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Soccer Mommy doesn't want to be your idol

Nashville bedroom-popster Sophie Allison doesn’t remember much about how she came to be known as Soccer Mommy, but somehow the former Twitter handle felt right. 

Pitchfork snidely referred to the name as “decidedly uncool” in their review of Allison’s studio debut Clean, though it’d be difficult to imagine the artist under the self-seriousness of her own name. Allison is almost 21 years old, and has suddenly found herself stacked on the pointy end of nearly every major publication’s best of the year list, including the New York Times. Since releasing Clean in March, Allison has dovetailed across the world with her brand of country-tinged indie, and is about to land in Australia for the second time in six months for the Falls Festival circuit. She admits a degree of whiplash from the unrelenting pace of success, though doesn’t take the chance to complain.

“It’s more intense now than it was, obviously,” Allison deadpans.

The singer-songwriter is a signatory for the Bandcamp generation; first uploading music from her bedroom to the site in 2015, mainly to entertain aspirations in a music town as established as Nashville. 2017 saw Allison break free from her bedroom-pop shackles, upgrading to a full-band sound with Collection, signing to Fat Possum (The Black Keys’ first label) and scoring a US tour slot with Mitski.

“I wasn’t playing shows when I was first posting it, I didn’t think anyone was taking it seriously. It took at least a year for me to even feel like I was considered a local artist,” Allison explains. “I think the [Bandcamp] feedback definitely helped – seeing people enjoy it made me feel more empowered to do it.”

Nashville carries a lot of connotation for any kind of musician – the town’s gate-keeping country music overlords tend to overshadow the thriving underground that Allison came out of.

“I grew up around lots of folk, singer-songwriter type stuff of course, but I think Nashville has another scene going on – indie, punk, garage, psych, emo,” Allison says. “They’re not all obvious influences, but I definitely like music that evokes a lot of emotion.”

Both comments help to piece together Allison’s singular brand of indie-pop – an attitude equal parts venom and honey, funnelled through the lyrical frames of country and emo. On Clean’s ‘Scorpio Rising’, Allison wistfully remembers being “in your car with the backseat southern summer,” having “ignored all the missed calls from your mother” and it’s hard to encapsulate her better than that; an inward rumination on the Southern teenage experience.

The imagery in Allison’s life has obviously changed a lot since moving from Nashville to New York to study music business, before dropping out and touring the world. Though there might be a technical reality disconnect with sweltering Southern summers while living in tour transit, Allison thinks it hasn’t altered the songs’ emotive quality.

“It’s not that I can’t relate to those things. They’re just not stuff that I experience on a daily basis anymore. They don’t feel like these huge moments of grandeur,” she says. “It will be different now. The songs will have different focuses – I’ve started writing, and it definitely seems more like personal stuff that I’ve dealt with my whole life, but less in a sense of how it affects my actions, back home hanging out with friends and more in an internal reflection way.”

An unforeseen result of Allison’s personal songwriting has been indie idolatry, something she isn’t entirely comfortable with.

“It does make it weird when I meet fans who, not just look up to me, but are starstruck – I’m a person that chills around, who goes shopping, goes out to eat, I’m no different to them. It can create a sense of delusion for someone who isn’t very strong-minded,” she worries. “I just think it can be extremely dehumanising. That’s kind of why I don’t idolise people –  because they’re just people who are really good at their craft.”  

Soccer Mommy plays Falls Festival Lorne on Sunday December 30, with tickets available through Ticketmaster. She’ll also hit Melbourne with a sideshow at Howler on Monday January 7, and you can find tickets via Moshtix.