“I don’t want to be your fucking dog,” sings Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison on “Your Dog,” a highlight from her new album Clean. Over knotty, distorted guitars and churning bass, Allison is equal turns confrontational and vulnerable. “I want a love that lets me breathe/I’ve been choking on your leash.” It’s a mission statement, a reclamation of power, a rewriting of all indie rock’s rules.
Soccer Mommy is the project of twenty-year-old Sophie Allison, a Nashville native. She cut her teeth in her local DIY scene, going to shows and hanging out with other musicians, though she kept her own songwriting secret. “I’ve played music since I was six,” says Allison, “and I always wrote songs just for myself. I did it for fun, posting songs on Tumblr, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud. I didn’t think anyone would notice.”
Having spent most of her younger years up North, Bentham channels a maturity and life ethic that's wise beyond her age, a result of having partially raised herself. Her parents worked away from home a lot (her dad is an engineer, her mum a primary school teacher), so it was often up to Bentham and her three older brothers to fend for themselves. “I think it made me grow up a lot faster than I would have,” she says. Lending an air of fate too, the experience of being brought closer to elder siblings switched her onto their musical obsessions. The likes of French electro duo Justice and Ed Banger artist Uffie haven't exactly informed Bentham's own oeuvre, but being exposed to those sounds early on made her acutely aware of a world outside of commercial pop music. She picked up a guitar early, even attempted banjo at one stage, and started taking singing lessons at the age of 15. That's when her teacher encouraged her to start writing songs and gigging at nearby pubs and open mic nights.
“I was writing a lot of Paolo Nutini inspired cheesy acoustic stuff,” she laughs, embarrassed now. At the time, most females with an acoustic guitar were singing similar tunes, it was the norm but it was also a means to an end. “Everything I wrote I hated. It was so frustrating trying to find one distinguished sound I could have as my own. But I just kept doing it, kept writing.” A huge fan at the time of Yo La Tengo, Fleet Foxes, Kevin Morby and Bon Iver, she continued to mine her own creative voice to try and develop something similarly ground-breaking. Eventually her first taste of success – a song called 'Oliver' – was a turn in the road. That tune brought her the sonic direction she was working towards. Her first proper show was at local legendary rock venue The Cluny back in Newcastle. By chance, the sound guy that night also did sound for successful performer James Bay and a connection sparked with Communion, the label part-owned by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons. She played a showcase evening for them as soon as she moved to London, where she's lived now for three years.