Soccer Mommy on How Nashville, Mitski & Taylor Swift Influenced Her Sound

Soccer Mommy
Ebru Yildiz

Soccer Mommy

It’s no secret that Nashville has been brewing a ton of DIY musicians for years (Bully, Diarrhea Planet, JEFF The Brotherhood), but the newest rising star in the community is Sophie Allison. The 20-year-old indie-pop singer-songwriter has been splitting her time between Nashville and New York, studying music business at NYU.

Quietly uploading her music to Bandcamp from 2015 on, Soccer Mommy has garnered a fan base within the DIY community. With her nostalgic pop sensibility, Soccer Mommy makes her songs feel intimate as she explores lost love, crushes and growing up. Earlier this month, Soccer Mommy released her mini album Collection, which is ideal for fans of Jay Som, Mitski and Waxahatchee.

Allison filled us in on her love for Taylor Swift, how Bandcamp helped her rise to success and how the Nashville music scene influenced her.

How did you come up with the name Soccer Mommy for your project?

I don’t remember. It was my Twitter name -- not my @handle, but my name for a while. I thought it would be funny and cutesy. I was going to go by my name on my Twitter, Soph Arela.

How did people first start recognizing your music?

It happened from Bandcamp -- that and my friends from home that were in the music scene would say to check out my post on Facebook. For six months, no one was really listening to it. It probably wasn’t until December 2015 or January of 2016 people started listening to it at a bigger capacity, but it was really due to Bandcamp.

What artists have you been influenced by? What were you listening to when you made Collection?

A lot of music that’s my favorite doesn’t sound like the music I write. I love Mitski -- she’s one of my favorite artists. I listen to Jeff Buckley, The Smiths, The Strokes and indie rock, but I wouldn’t say that I sound like it that much. Some people say it reminds them of Taylor Swift, which would make sense because I listened to a lot of Taylor Swift as a child secretly for a while. That probably influenced my songwriting style at least a little bit. Mitski is an influence to me as a writer.

What do you think about Taylor Swift putting her music on Spotify?

I was so happy. My boyfriend showed me that Stereogum thing that said it was coming back on because I’m a Spotify user and not an Apple Music user. I own a lot of her music on iTunes, but I’ll remember a deep cut off of Fearless and I’ll be like oh man I want to listen to it because I don’t have Apple Music. Now I have it all.

What are some of the themes you sing about?

I would say relationships that start right, not toxic, but people who don’t fit for you. I think that’s what “Out Worn” is about: it’s about men who have been in very close relationships with me in a friendship way or a relationship way that haven’t been right for my self-esteem or personality. Not that they’ve done anything toxic or abusive to me, but not in their faults, but in the way that people mesh together isn’t always right. That can kind of cause personal issues when you don’t mesh with someone very well. It’s where my own flaws are made to shine because of the way we are as people. It’s about feeling like someone doesn’t have the capacity to care for you like you need emotionally. Regardless of whether or not they love you, it’s just not the right kind of love that a person needs sometimes. That’s something I’ve experienced in my life.

What’s your process like for songwriting?

I always feel like I start with a chorus first. I think I’m much more of a guitar-songwriter than a singer. I start with chords and then test out melodies rather than improvising over it. Lyrically and melodically I try to see what works well together. Usually the melody comes to me and the lyrics come to me a little after I workshop it.

Who would you love to tour with in the future?

I’d love to tour with Mitski. I’d love to be able to see her play every night. That would be an amazing tour because I would get to see her play a lot. Slowdive would be really crazy. I love Jay Som, and that would be really cool. Bully would be really cool, and she’s also from Nashville.

How do you think Bandcamp helped you launch your career?

I didn’t know it would at all. I didn’t think about that when I was first making stuff. I didn’t like Soundcloud that much because it was so track-based. Even if you’re just starting out it looks nice and professional. It looks like you’re uploading actual albums instead of demos. That’s what I was doing at my house recording during the summer. It was a way for me to not just write on the guitar and that be the end of it. It was a chance for me to fully realize the songs by using different instruments. For a long time I posted them on my Tumblr or my Twitter if I was feeling outgoing. Some people would tell me that they liked it and it was a nice way to put my music out there. Then it gained a little bit of traction. I would have people I didn’t know like it. Eventually it got big enough where it got attention from people. Bandcamp unknowingly gave me a nice start to music, so that was pretty cool.

How have Nashville and New York influenced your music?

I think they both have. I listen to a lot of Nashville local music, which for the most part is punk and grunge music but also alt-country stuff down here. I think it’s more about being around Nashville musicians growing up because I’ve been playing since I was five years old. Being here has pushed me in the direction of doing music. It also pushed me to try that scene in New York when I went to school, which helped me get to where I am today. I draw more influence from New York style.

How did you go about choosing songs for Collection?

I just knew instantly which songs were the best from Bedroom or Bandcamp. I pretty much went off of what our live set was in Nashville and picked a few filler songs and then I had two new songs I liked, which were “Out Worn” or “Allison.” It was a progression of the stuff I do live and the new stuff I’m going to be doing. After Collection, I’m working on a new album this summer. It’s a lot different than the music I’ve been doing -- more in the direction of “Out Worn” and “Allison.” It’s a little bit less pop-sounding, but it’s bedroom pop, indie rock. It’ll be a little bit of a darker album, tone-wise, but similar to what I’ve been doing.