“I don’t know if any of it really helped me”
Soccer Mommy chats songwriting as a way of navigating personal issues
Sophie Allison, otherwise known as Soccer Mommy, sort of emerged from nowhere. Having only uploaded her first demo to Bandcamp a couple of years ago, Allison quickly earned a reputation for her lo-fi brand of indie-rock.
Before Allison returns to Australia for a performance at Falls Festival, we caught up to chat about her touring schedule, building anxiety, and songwriting as a tool of navigating personal issues.
HAPPY: Last time you were in Australia, it was for Splendour In The Grass. You flew in for the one gig and flew straight back out… which seems pretty intense. Is this representative of the touring schedule you’ve been working with?
SOPHIE: Yes, but I would also like to say that that trip was extremely relaxing. We played one show, but we flew in for like five days. It was right in the middle of an American tour, so we flew straight to Australia where it was beautiful and warm, and we had three off days on the beach. Then we played the show, then we flew back to the tour. We’ve done a lot of travel like that, and it is definitely intense. But that was actually an extremely relaxing tour.
HAPPY: Is it uncommon these days for you to receive a beach break like that?
SOPHIE: Yeah, it’s not something that never happens. It happens every once in a while, but it’s not an every-tour type thing. We don’t normally get multiple off-days in a row that aren’t travel-days. I do like getting to sit at the hotel, and go to the beach, and play tennis, and lounge around.
HAPPY: Do you feel like you normally get a chance to take these places in that you’re travelling to? Or do you get pulled around too quickly?
SOPHIE: It really depends. A lot of the time you just go in and go out. When I’m travelling, I hate doing touristy stuff. I’ll obviously go visit a beautiful park or something because it’s pretty. I don’t know, I like to get the vibe of a city. I like to feel what it feels like to live there – to know the city. When we do get to do that, I think it’s really great. It’s awesome. But there are definitely days where you roll in, stay at the venue the whole time, and leave.
HAPPY: Going back to earlier this year, when you released Clean, you said that you were paranoid about your sudden success. Now that we’re a few months removed, how are you feeling about everything?
SOPHIE: I’m still paranoid. But I think that’s a separate issue… I think I just have paranoia. If anything, this has all made the anxiety worse and the paranoia worse. I dunno, it’s just hard when you’re always on tour. Your day-to-day experience is of being this artist… like that’s who you are. It starts to feel like you’re not a real person. But it’s also really amazing. You get to do what you love every day, you get to travel. When you’re not stressing out, it’s really great. You get to do what you love and travel the world.
HAPPY: Clean does tackle a lot of personal issues. Do you feel like you view the album differently now that it’s been out in the world for a while?
SOPHIE: I think that a lot of the songs are less relevant to my life, but I still like them a lot. There are definitely ones that stand out to me way more than they did when I first wrote them because of the emotion that came from them. It’s something that I’m realising now affected more than I knew at the time. Then there are other songs that feel a bit further away from my life. There are definitely some that feel closer to me now than others. But I still love all the songs.
HAPPY: Back when you first released the album, when a lot of the topics were more immediate in your life, was it ever daunting releasing the tracks into the public?
SOPHIE: No, not really. It’s less intimate releasing an album to a wide audience than just releasing it on Bandcamp or something. I dunno, the more daunting thing was worrying about whether or not people would like it. But it wasn’t nerve-wracking when I was about to release it. It felt like I wanted it to be out, and I wanted to see what people thought of it.
HAPPY: You have expressed previously that you used to be hesitant to release music because you thought people wouldn’t think it was good. Was there a certain point where you said: “no, this is definitely good“?
SOPHIE: Yeah, I don’t know. Sometimes I still think it’s pure shit. It just depends what kind of mood I’m in. I just decided that I wanted to do this, so I might as well give it a try.
HAPPY: The album has running theme throughout it of Who I Am Vs. Who I Want To Be… for me, listening to the album, this journey comes to a head with Scorpio Rising.
HAPPY: It feels like the point in the album where you come to terms with being yourself. So, when you were writing these songs, were they a tool for you in navigating these issues, or were they reflecting on issues that you faced earlier?
SOPHIE: I think it’s different for every song. I think some of them were reckoning, and some were more reflective. I think Scorpio Rising was a reckoning. It was about the things that were happening around me. But a song like Wildflowers was definitely a reflection on things that had happened in the past. That has to do with when I wrote the songs too, and I wrote them over a long period of time. Some were written much earlier and some were written much later.
HAPPY: Do you feel that writing a song like Scorpio Rising helped you navigate that?
SOPHIE: Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know if it helped me or just solidified my thoughts into words. I don’t know if any of it really helped me necessarily.
Catch Soccer Mommy live in Australia this summer:
Friday 28 December – Monday 31 December –Falls Festival Lorne, Victoria (18+ event)
Saturday 29 December – Monday 31 December – Falls Festival Marion Bay, Tasmania (all ages event)
Monday 31 December – Wednesday 2 January – Falls Festival Byron Bay, New South Wales (18+ event)
Wednesday 2 January – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Saturday 5 January – Sunday 6 January – Fremantle, Western Australia (18+ event)
Monday 7 January – Howler, Melbourne
More info here.
Interview by Bill Robinson
Illustration Nada Hayek