Sophie Allison is from Nashville. She spent her youth in the Music City throughout the ‘00s and ‘10s as a scene once known solely for its country music grew into a scene rich in punk and garage rock. She released her first record as Soccer Mommy when she was still a teenager, heading off to school in New York City. Now, she readies her highly anticipated LP Clean as she heads out to open for Phoebe Bridgers. After that tour, she’ll headline her own.
Before the tour stops in Birmingham for a sold out date at Syndicate Lounge, she spoke about writing songs at an early age and growing up within the Nashville rock scene.
Your first record was released around the time you were 18, which means you must have begun writing original material at a young age. What inspired you to begin writing original material at such a young age?
I’ve been writing since I was five. I’ve always written music. A lot of people in the Nashville music scene are really young, and I went to an arts high school; people were in bands and playing gigs around town—mostly punk and garage rock type things
Seeing that happen around me made me realize that you can do it—you don’t have to wait to go get signed by a label. You don’t have to just do it that way. I was intimidated by it for a long time, but at some point, I was like, “I can just do this for myself if I want to.” So I did it. And it grew out of nothing. It was crazy.
So was it largely the scene around you that provided that inspiration? Or something else?
The scene around Nashville and getting into DIY-type music—stuff like Mitski and Frankie Cosmos and stuff like that—made me realize that I could make music that meant a lot to me and be able to have an audience for it.
Were you already performing originals in front of people when you were in high school?
I wasn’t doing a lot of it, but I would take random, occasional gigs that I would get to play at a coffee shop. I had a little project with a friend where we would play his songs and I would sing on them, then we’d play some of my songs, too, and he’d sing on them. We did a couple of those gigs, which was fun.
I had experience playing out. I was also in the swing band at my school and a guitar quartet. So I had experience playing music, but I didn’t really do a full project of my own until later in high school.
How did you connect with Phoebe Bridgers for this tour?
It was an agency thing; I had never met her until our first show
And when it wraps, you’ll head out on your own tour.
Yep! First one. We did four dates in November, but it wasn’t a full tour. Sort of a soft start to the headlining game.
Clean will be release on Mississippi label Fat Possum. How did you hook up with those guys?
They just found me through Band Camp, the old fashioned way. [Clean] will be out March 2. This is the first big one.
On your Facebook, you describe your music as “chill, but kinda sad.” When did music become chill? What happened to loud guitars?
Oh, I have loud guitars. You’ll see that in the live show.
I think it’s more—when I was first doing it, I had more drum samples on it. It was very slow and ambient guitar stuff. I think it has this warm, kind of calmness to it. There’s some anxiety built into the music, a little bit, because I have terrible anxiety; there’s a warmth in it, and I think that carries over into Clean.
There can be a calm, beautiful part of a song and it can go into this really noisy wall of guitars. But even that is still calming. It’s slowcore. It’s still calming [laughs]. It’s hard, but it’s still chilling you out.
Does label support allow you a better opportunity to expand that sound into something bigger like you describe?
Totally. There’s a huge difference in the production quality between Collection and Clean. It’s so much bigger and so much more intense. It’s much more like an experience when you listen to the full album, where Collection was just a collection of songs. It’s kind of how we played them live—just went into the studio and laid down the tracks with a friend. It sounds great, but Clean has this whole production behind it. It makes it a lot bigger and a lot more intense, I think.