Discerning how Soccer Mommy’s third full-length album – Sometimes, Forever – came to be should feel like a mammoth task, but it isn’t. Our talk at first turns to jet lag, part and parcel of the jet-setting rockstar experience, then, the singer’s palpable excitement for festival season and a list of record store dates she’s playing across the UK.
Over Zoom, the singer (real name Sophie Regina Allison) is as nonchalant and chilled as her dreamy tunes reveal her to be, flitting between rooms as she casually doles out the inner workings of her mind and references the spooky literature that inspired songs like Following Eyes. With the sunny optimism of 2019’s Colour Theory still hidden here somewhere, most notably in With U’s magical one-liners that slip out asunder layers of luscious guitars, or the stirring ride through the clouds Still conjures up with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a notebook, the Nashville-born singer’s latest project washes it down with shot after shot of angsty experiments conducted alongside Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin.
“I feel like there wasn’t any specific inspiration I can trace, but I know certain things always affect my mood and my writing,” she later tells us of the switch, fully aware that this dark cloud constantly flashes with contradiction. These emotive responses aren’t always timely, but that in itself speaks to the unpredictability of the human condition, something Soccer Mommy knows far too well. Sometimes, Forever is a reminder of such imperfections, that times of turmoil will ebb and flow and the cards will fall where they may, slotting themselves back into the deck as they gear up to tackle it all again.
Photography by Sophier Hur
BS: How did the album begin taking shape?
SM: I always do all the writing on my own, I feel like no one gets to really witness it much except for me. Every time I try to tell people this I go back and forth on the date, but when I started writing these songs it was definitely the end of Summer 2019. That just seems so strange, because usually, I start writing an album a little closer to when the current one is coming out. Still was the first one. And after that, I’m pretty sure Darkness Forever was the next I completed. When I started [the album] I was just meandering around, writing whatever I was feeling excited about. I think having a little bit of time off from touring, which I thought I was going to be going back to, was really good for exploring exciting ideas.
Usually when we’re touring and I’m writing, I’m still inspired but I just kind of demo something really quick, throw it in a folder and start messing with it pretty much. Now, it was like I could do what I used to do back when I was first making music in my room – sit with the song and mess around with it. Even if it’s just kind of crappy, but try to get the vibe a little, work some parts out and have fun. That made it really inspiring and got me really excited about writing and trying to not just write a song, but also figure out some ideas for it on top of that. Even just demoing something, and not putting drums and all this stuff on it, messing around can give you a lot of ideas for what you want to do in the studio.
“I can very easily be feeling one certain way and become completely swallowed up by it…”
BS: What came next?
SM: We started talking about producers when I had seven songs, and I was just waiting to finish it off and for inspiration to strike. By that point, I was already thinking about what I wanted to do with the record. And I knew whatever songs I wrote would be able to fall in with that. We talked to the label and they sent over a list of producers, and Dan (Oneohtrix Point Never) was on it. I’m a big fan, so I was like, “Oh my God, that’d be insane!” – but that also seems… insane. I doubted he would be available or interested. And then he was both! We get a phone call, started texting a lot of ideas, and it was already just feeling very in sync. Everybody in the band was really excited and it was great, right off the bat. Everything I wanted to do, he had the same ideas and really understood. I loved that he was equally focused on getting these really good live takes, and this super-specific feeling at the core of the music. And then, you know, doing weird shit and adding all this weird stuff on top.
BS: I’m really interested in the deliberate ambiguity of the name – Sometimes, Forever – it’s like an antipode.
SM: I wanted to do that because I felt like the album has a lot of these kinds of opposite ideas going back and forth. In my life, but also in the writing of songs, I can very easily be feeling one certain way and become completely swallowed up by it. I’ve always felt this way, it’s all I ever feel and it’s very absolute. I wanted to toy with the idea of having these things that are absolute and conflicting, like sadness or love or lows and highs in your life. All that kind of stuff. It can for all of existence, but they’re not always there. It’s not always and forever, it’s more like… sometimes.
Photography by Sophier Hur
“I wanted the chorus of [Feel it All the Time] to [share] what it feels like for me driving my truck on a beautiful day, that wave of relief from being able to let go, and wanting to drive forever.”
BS: When you were in the writing stage, was there any material that was really speaking to you and your creative process?
SM: I feel like there wasn’t any specific inspiration I can trace, but I know certain things always affect my mood and my writing. Like when I wrote Still, it was a very hot and humid summer – it was disgusting. I was definitely not in a good place and that didn’t help, it just makes you want to sleep all the time. So things like that affect me in the same way that a beautiful day can. In a song like Feel it All the Time, there’s this whole metaphor about an old truck that’s still going on and on, and you’re just so broken down. I wanted the chorus of it to [share] what it feels like for me driving my truck on a beautiful day, that wave of relief from being able to let go, and wanting to drive forever.
I also read a lot of horror, so that probably gets in there a lot. Around the time I wrote Following Eyes I was reading Frankenstein and a lot of HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. I wanted to capture this ghostly [feeling] that has the sense of terror in it, but in this very romantic nature when it comes to the language, painting a picture that’s not actually scary or horrifying but far more eerie and haunting. I was also really inspired and excited about how the band had been feeling. With the production, I wanted it to sound like what we’re gonna play live. I didn’t want to be chopping it up or overdubbing a bunch of parts.
BS: Shotgun is such an amazing, triumphantly dreamy song. Why did you feel that had to be the first track release?
SM: This album obviously has a lot of stuff that’s a little different than what I’ve been doing, and Shotgun is a perfect moment where it’s very much in the vein of what I’ve kind of always done. It’s very catchy and repetitive and just fun and exciting, a singly type song that was going to get stuck in your head a little bit, but also had the new production. We didn’t want to release Unholy Affliction first and have people be like, “What is this album?”
BS: In comparison to Colour Theory, the feel of this album is almost like a dark cloud, but within that, there are all these juxtapositions of lightness.
SM: When we were in the studio, we were really wanting to play with that contrast. When I’m writing, it always takes me to be halfway through to really realise what my brain is obsessed with. And then I can understand and try to focus in on more themes I’ve subconsciously been wanting to write about. Obviously, there are a lot of contrasts, but I think they can be very summed up just by light and dark, you know? Whether it’s happiness and sadness, love and evil, hope and hopelessness, we wanted to play with this sense of magical energy that could be angelic – and then horrifying.
“You just can’t put too much value on the stuff that’s not what you love to do.”
BS: How do you feel that translated visually for you?
SM: First, with the album cover, I came up with this idea of doing cell diagrams. I wanted it to be something washy and pretty, but also kind of ugly if you were to really look at it. [laughs] I have the trypophobia thing, so for me, I could only watch the Unholy Affliction lyric video once. It was perfect – I was like, “It’s terrifying, like, literally terrifying me.” Also, the idea of doing cells came from… it’s this origin of what we all are, this everlasting thing within us. It felt really poignant.
I didn’t bring too much into the Shotgun video, we wanted it to be fun and cool, but also break this sense of reality. Within the bedroom there was this edginess (it sounds so stupid, it wasn’t that edgy), with the candelabras and some horror books I’ve read. And with the Bones video, the director, Alex, and I texted back and forth about this light and dark thing in a dungeon. It’d be kind of devoid of colour, and then at the end we’d have this really colourful floral thing going on, just the opposite of the dungeon energy.
BS: On Don’t Ask Me you list a number of things you’ve stopped doing, from tasting and searching, to baking, shaking and a few other things. What are you up to these days?
SM: Well, occasionally I return to those things. I think, for me, it’s about more of an eternal struggle, longing for something you don’t have, like excitement, needing danger or to just be on the go, rather than a complete attitude change in life. The song is very much about having these prolonged times of relief and almost enjoying it and wanting to let go, but knowing it’s going to come back to you. In my moments of relief, it’s very nice. I can just hang with friends, not have to be stressed, be at home, read and try to go outside…
BS: You recently told Quinn Moreland you don’t like doing anything related to being an artist except playing music. I was curious to know how you’ve managed to navigate that as you’ve experienced more and more success?
SM: It’s just like any job. It’s very easy when you first get started to take things like press and photoshoots [seriously] – they’re a big deal and you wanna do well in them – but I think that eventually, you just have to realise you can’t expect to every picture of you to look good. You can’t read every interview and expect to love it. We all have things we don’t like about ourselves or times when we think we sound stupid or something, so you just can’t put too much value on the stuff that’s not what you love to do. It’s just another part of the job, you have to focus more on the value of making music.
Soccer Mommy’s new album Sometimes, Forever is out now via Loma Vista Recordings.