On songwriting, second albums and saying how she really feels.
T-shirt SHORE LEAVE by URBAN OUTFITTERS and trousers ARTIST’S OWN.
“I guess it’s kind of bittersweet.” Sophie Allison tells me when I ask her to describe the feeling behind her new album, Collection. “It’s kind of like between being warm and upbeat, sad and happy, just kind of like a bittersweet feeling I guess.”
Better known under the pseudonym Soccer Mommy – her Twitter name which she used for her first release and stuck before she realised the success she would become – last week saw the release of Sophie’s stunning sophomore album to universal praise.
Originally building a following on Bandcamp, Sophie moved from bedroom recordings to studio sessions for her latest record, proving once again what an exciting artist she is. Eight songs taken from her back catalogue were recorded in January and as the lo-fi guitar chords build and her delicate, yet stirring, vocals glide over the melodies, Sophie’s songwriting dives into feelings that we’ve all had – love and heartache – all delivered up in utterly captivating tracks.
Sitting down with the New York via Nashville songwriter before the soundcheck of her gig last week at London’s The Islington (and her first ever trip to Nando’s), I ask her her thoughts on performing songs which delve into these emotions. “It’s just cathartic, I think.” She muses, “Just kind of a release of things I want to say but don’t usually say.”
And I’m sure I’m not the only one who is extremely glad that she decided to say them.
When did you first start playing music?
I started playing guitar when I was five, so like fifteen years ago. I just started taking guitar lessons and kind of never stopped there.
Was there a moment when you were like “I wanna do this forever”?
I mean, I wanted to do it when I was young, since I was a kid, but I didn’t think that I would actually do it. I guess I kind of really wanted to start doing it like right before I went to college.
Oh yeah, you’re at NYU right?
Yeah I am. I don’t think I’m going back next year though. I’m taking a break to focus on music.
Do you have anything specific music you listen to to get inspiration?
I guess I listen to a lot of indie rock to get inspiration for my music, but I really listen to all genres pretty much. Just because I kind of like everything.
Do you have a favourite band or anyone you’re enjoying listening to at the moment?
I got really into that new Big Pink record. I like [Father John] Misty a lot. I like Liz Phair a lot, I’ve been listening to her loads. Those are some of the big ones I’ve been listening to a lot lately.
You started off by recording a lot of music in your bedroom. What was the reason for that?
I just did it because I didn’t have a studio and I didn’t want to pay for one for songs that, when I was first making [music], I didn’t have anyone listening to! I just did it because it was easy and I was interested in learning how to record stuff. Now I usually do a studio, just for the last record [2016’s For Young Hearts] and this one. Before that, it was just recorded by me because I wasn’t professional so I wasn’t gonna pay a bunch of money to rent a studio out.
“[Collection is] everything that I’m thinking that I don’t say to people.”
How are you feeling about Collection coming out?
Yeah, I’m pumped! Totally. Not that nervous because I’ve released a lot of the songs before so it’s not like they’re brand new [ones] that no one’s ever heard.
What was the inspiration for the album?
It’s kind of pieced together. The new songs kind of have a different direction than the old ones. Some of them I wrote in my first semester of college, well most of them [and] some of them even before that actually, some of them were when I’d not gone to college yet. It was kind of built off, like, more insecurity, and I feel like I’ve grown a little bit and matured a little bit in the newer songs for sure.
Your songwriting is often quite personal. Is there a reason you gravitate towards these subject matters?
Well, I don’t really confront a lot of things, I’m not very confrontational. I don’t really tell people when I’m feeling a certain way a lot of the time. It kind of helps me to express that and get it out and I think that’s why it comes out as more personal, you know? It’s everything that I’m thinking that I don’t say to people.
How would you say it’s different to your previous album [For Young Hearts]?
I would say it’s a little bit more brighter. The songs are a little bit more upbeat and catchy, whereas some of the old ones were a little bit sadder. It’s better recorded and the songs themselves are a little bit more just peppy compared to the old ones. A little less dark.
What do you want people to take away from it?
I guess I just want people to connect with it and, especially for younger people, to get something out of it with their own personal growth. Because I think I reflect on a lot of my mistakes and feelings of not feeling like worth it to other people. So I hope that helps other people.