When our Zoom call is connected Sophie Allison is smiling. In fact, she smiles throughout the entirety of our interview. The songwriter – who records under the name Soccer Mommy – is a picture of optimism, a figure of positive energy. New album ‘Sometimes, Forever’ is her third in five years, the kind of productivity that saw her early Bandcamp drops gain a devoted following. She seizes and idea, takes it to its furthermost point, then moves on, leaving astute, emotional, and intelligent indie bops in her wake.
Right now, she’s still basking in the glow of ‘Sometimes, Forever’. Musically bright yet lyrically dark, it’s her most rounded, nuanced effort yet; Daniel Lopatin steps in on production, filling the space afforded by Soccer Mommy’s writing with all manner of unusual textures and elements. At the time of our chat, she only has days to go before release – her favourite part of the whole process, seemingly.
“It’s awesome!” she exclaims. “Honestly, I mean, that that’s kind of the worst part about putting out an album is that you wait so long between writing the songs and when people can actually hear them. I’m just glad it’s out in the world for real now.”
Sipping from a Buffy the Vampire Slayer cup, there’s an endearing purity to the way Sophie views music. Take the choice of Daniel Lopatin as producer – an electronic outlier who has worked on colossal mainstream projects with The Weeknd, he’s got one of the most varied resumes in American music. He’s also a pretty daunting choice as guest producer on an indie pop record, Clash observes.
“I’ve been a big fan for a long time, personally,” she says. “So I was extremely excited about the idea of working with him.”
“I love getting to experiment and blend genres and mess around a lot. I wanted to be able to find a producer that is gonna be fun! And when we first started talking, it just instantly seemed like he had so many cool new ideas to bring to the table.”
One of the things that marks Soccer Mommy’s work to date is a desire to move forwards – from those early Bandcamp drops to her fully-fledged studio statements ‘Clean’ and ‘Color Theory’ her work is dominated by a clear thread of evolution. “I think I personally feel that with every record I’m trying to do better than last time when it comes to the writing, specifically; whether it’s the writing, lyrically, or the composing aspect. There’s always a drive for me personally to keep trying to get better and keep pushing myself,” she says. “But I also think it’s a natural growth. And it’s very inspiration-based – you’re inspired by the things you didn’t get to do previously.”
A perpetual enthusiast, Sophie Allison simply couldn’t wait to get back into the studio to focus on new Soccer Mommy songs. “From my perspective, I really enjoy recording. That part is really fun. It’s just fun to get to add these parts on the songs that are kind of strange and they weren’t what your brain would just typically imagine as you’re writing the song, but they ended up being your favourite parts.”
Musically, ‘Sometimes, Forever’ represents a break with her past, re-evaluating what Soccer Mommy stands for. Lyrically, it’s also a step forwards, with Sophie fully absorbing horror movie imagery into her work in a refreshing manner. “I love horror. I love Gothic fantasy. I’m a big fan of a gore. So I think that that could sometimes make it into songs. I also think I’m very intrigued by using lyrics to mix things like love and heartache and these like softer emotions with. like, violence… and blood and gore. I think it’s very interesting to compare that emotional ache and longing with literal pain.”
“I genuinely think when you’re talking about emotions or tender moments, or painful moments, I think that those are – in reality – very layered feelings. And it’s not just this one thing, it’s not just beauty, it’s not just ugliness,” she says. “So I think that I personally find it gives a more detailed and layered and realistic view of a lot of things in life to kind of represent both the dark and the light aspects that come with it.”
The relationship between artist and producer is obviously one of the driving aspects of the new record, and it seems that Daniel Lopatin instantly became a key component of the Soccer Mommy ensemble. “Honestly, the first day in the studio together we were doing ‘Bones’ and I was like, this is gonna be great,” she exclaims. “Day Two was ‘Unholy Affliction’ and that was when we started to get fired up. Dan created this sequencer part that went all the way through it. It’s something I had imagined we could do, but I didn’t realise it could be taken to that extreme. I couldn’t quite imagine the small details that would be needed for us to get there.”
“He’s a really down to Earth guy,” she says. “He’s excited about music, and we’d be there bouncing ideas off each other. We were all throwing stuff out there. But he’s also great at just capturing the sound of the band.”
Horror naturally made it into the studio. Requiring some downtime, Sophie was placed in charge of picking something to watch together – and naturally, she leaned on her passion for the gothic. “I’m pretty sure we did watch Vampire Diaries, yeah! There was a TV above the monitor, so that happened!”
Out now, ‘Sometimes, Forever’ is an excellent listen. Detailed and intricate, it’s also immediate and open, with Sophie Allison placing her feelings on the line. The colours and tones of her work may have altered, but the heart and essence remains the same. With the world opening up once more, Soccer Mommy is ready to made it on her own terms. “I feel rejuvenated,” she says. “Especially after playing that first run of shows. It’s amazing. We’re getting to play these songs for people who have never heard them before.”
‘Sometimes, Forever’ is out now.
Words: Robin Murray
Photo Credit: Sophie Hur