Last week, Soccer Mommy announced a new record, Sometimes, Forever. Produced by Oneohtrix Point Never, the LP is the follow-up to 2020’s Color Theory and came with a typically evocative new single, “Shotgun.” However, the Color Theory era isn’t over quite yet. Lordess Foudre and Christopher Leckie, the art directors responsible for the album’s deluxe packaging, are up for a Grammy Award this weekend in the category of Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package.
Neither were expecting the nod. In fact, Foudre says when the nominations came out, she was in a place with “absolutely ghastly internet” and so her phone had dodgy service. She saw that Soccer Mommy had received a nomination — but didn’t realize right away it was for her own work. “I was telling people, ‘Congratulations!’ and then, an hour later, they were like, ‘No, it’s Chris and you.’” Leckie happened to be at home watching the nominations reveal, but he too was also surprised. “It’s very exciting, but also shocking, because you don’t expect it. It’s such a wonderful thing, and it’s so nice to be recognized by your peers as well in that way.”
The Color Theory deluxe packaging is indeed Grammy-worthy. On the front is the dreamy photo of Soccer Mommy’s Sophia Allison found on the regular version of the album, along with the band’s name in a similarly space-age font. However, the package design is meant to resemble a Trapper Keeper, the school binder popular in the ’80s and ’90s. Open up the binder and you’ll find a pouch with Soccer Mommy-branded pencils, a ruler, stickers and an eraser; flexi-discs in a rainbow of colors featuring song demos; lyrics handwritten on notebook paper; and Color Theory itself on translucent pale blue vinyl, tucked into a pouch in the back. For any kid who grew up loving school supplies, it’s a perfect blast of nostalgia.
— soccer mommy (@sopharela) November 24, 2021
“We really wanted to do something fun and retro for the deluxe Color Theory set,” Allison says. “Everyone had a lot of cool ideas to choose from for different inserts and parts [and it ended] up looking really cool together.”
Foudre — who was hired to work on the Soccer Mommy single and album artwork during the Color Theory era (“It’s sort of creating the entire world that all the products would swim in”) — says “nostalgia” was the vibe she and Allison hit upon when dreaming up the idea for this packaging, the idea of rediscovering something from a previous era.
“Sophie made it easy,” Foudre says. “She’s great at writing lyrics and is a fantastic musician. [And] she speaks very evocatively. When I talked to her, it was very easy for me, on an emotional level — [ideas] easily popped into my mind after talking to her.”
A brainstorming session with Soccer Mommy’s label, Loma Vista Recordings, was even more fruitful. “We were thinking of different ways to convey that [nostalgic] feeling, not just through the artwork, but through the packaging. And so the Trapper Keeper was something that hit me like a lightning bolt,” Foudre says, referencing as other touchstones the colorful ’80s stickers produced by Lisa Frank. “Because when you think about coming of age, [your mind] automatically [goes] to school. And so that was something that popped in my mind. They were all for it.”
Foudre initially wasn’t sure if her ideas were physically feasible to even produce, but Leckie said the production side of things was a breeze. “There weren’t a huge amount of hurdles,” he explains. “There are technical things that were different about it, like the custom dyes for the Flexidisc pieces. They are custom shapes that fit into the binder. [But] we’d done some stickers already for the standard version, so that was included in there. And then everything else was totally organic — [like] the writing, the doodling of the lyrics and stuff. We knew we wanted it to feel like you’d been at school taking notes. That was the idea. And it came together quite organically.”
Leckie is also currently working on the Sometimes, Forever artwork, although fans shouldn’t expect a redux of the binder when the album is released in June. “When you start a project again, even if you’ve worked with the artist many times, you want to start with a blank slate and never want to come in and do something similar,” he says. “I never want to do the same idea twice. I want to tease out something you’ve never seen before.” This idea is often in sync with where the artist is going next, he adds. “Every time you get a new thing, you have to approach it with whatever the person’s trying to say the next time around,” he says. “Obviously they’re not trying to regurgitate anything on their end anything. They have a new idea of what they’re trying to communicate.”
Leckie too can’t say enough good things about Allison, and her role in helping the deluxe Color Theory packaging come alive. “She knows exactly what she wants to do,” he says. “And when artists come in and have such great vision, you’re there to help them execute that and make it be as good as it can be. And have fun, too. If you’re not having fun, it’s no good — especially with something like this, in terms of the nostalgia and everything. If you’re not having fun making it, how are you going to make anybody else have fun experiencing on the other end?”
Win or lose at the Grammys, Foudre is certainly proud of the packaging and the collaborative process that brought it to life. “Even though I came up with the Trapper Keeper idea, the whole thing came from them,” she says. “Yes, we did that thing. But if not for Sophie, none of it would have happened.”