In high school, Sophie Allison tried to write happy songs, but that didn't really work out for her.
"I could think of a lyric or a chorus, but not a whole song. I'm not inspired by happiness and I don't think most people are happy all the time anyway," said the 20-year-old singer and guitarist now known as Soccer Mommy and on her way back to Houston to open for Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks on July 26 at White Oak Music Hall.
In fact, the songs she writes now as on her most recent album Clean, she says, are for herself. "Yeah, it's for me. I think it's cause I never know how to write for anyone else. It's hard to figure out what others like, and it won't seem genuine if you do that anyway. I also use it for my own personal way to express stuff. I never saw anyone ever caring about it when I began, so that and having low expectations is why it's written for me."
Allison started playing guitar from a very early age, wrote songs in high school, and dropped out of New York University to focus on being a touring artist. She got her start posting her songs on Bandcamp and it was there that Fat Possum Records approached her.
After dropping a cassette with Queens-based label Orchid Tapes and gaining some traction, Soccer Mommy started to show up on lists of up and coming artists to watch. Usually when that occurs, labels come out of the woodwork with interest toward artists. By Allison's account, Fat Possum Records did this in a different way.
"They hit me up randomly through Bandcamp. They came out to a show, and at the time I didn't realize all that came with it, getting into record cycles and all that. I thought it would be like Orchid, just on a bigger scale. They had wanted me to make a collection of my tracks on Bandcamp, and to make an album which I chose to do. And that's where we are now."
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That album, Clean in many ways harkens to the sounds of early Liz Phair mixed with the guitar notations of bands like Seam and Silkworm. "I think this is what I always wanted my music to sound like," she says. "But I never spent weeks at a time on a song and I didn't have the production budget for it. I had shitty equipment and once I was happy with a song I just moved on. There's always been a pop side to my music while still being rock and being emotional. I was listening to lots of stuff, sixties music and old pop. Ambient music like Will Basinski and Aphex Twin, and I think that came through on the record. Also stuff like Liz Phair and Elliott Smith."
The last time Soccer Mommy was in Houston, she opened for Phoebe Bridgers on a night that was filled with way too many talkative attendees. We were curious if this has become common or if it's just our city who can't behave at shows. "Some cities are talkative, smaller towns don't know who we are. When we're headlining the show, there's not much talking. I don't think it's regular but it's not uncommon either. Sometimes when there's talking, it eases me cause I figure I can relax cause they aren't paying attention anyway," says Allison.
According to Allison, her performance doesn't change much whether she's headlining or in a supporting role. "There's no big difference between the headlining set and the opening sets minus a couple of songs. Our headlining set is a lot of new songs. We start with a couple of old ones then head to the new ones. There's soft and emotional ones, slow ones that get emotional, and then we finish big. I want it to be a party and to be fun for everyone as well."
You can stream Soccer Mommys entire catalog on Bandcamp or purchase Clean on multiple formats there and through Fat Possum Records. Soccer Mommy will return to Houston on Thursday, July 26 at White Oak Music Hall. The all ages show will be a support set for Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. Doors at 8 p.m.; tickets $22.