Written by Travis Shosa
When Melbourne, Florida’s Sofia Poppert released her single “Wither” under the Funeral Homes name in 2018, it revealed a corner of a portrait. Just a corner: her EP, April Showers Bring May Flowers, soon followed and appeared to give further credence to the perception of Poppert’s role as a reclusive dealer in pastel lethargy, blending dream pop and slowcore as though they were soupy watercolors that formed pale, beautiful paintings on shaky easels in a dimly lit room. But when Funeral Homes’ first full-length album Lavender House came at the tail-end of 2019, it shattered any preconceived notions one might have had. It was the work of someone sifting through the myriad facets of the self, swapping sounds and songwriting modes as if they were wardrobe ensembles: searching for the perfect outfit to wear when she was ready to break out of a shell.
Two years later, Blue Heaven—her upcoming album on Lonely Ghost—represents the emergence that Lavender House predicted. A more focused effort, it is, at times, carried by a propulsive energy that once felt out of reach, bursting with a vibrancy to match the gorgeous pink and red flora that backdrops Matthew Wickman’s photography. At others, it is calm yet quietly abuzz with textures that add definition to a life more fulfilled. It aligns with a move to a new city in Jacksonville, a new love, and a new sense of identity. Blue Heaven is the sound of new possibilities and beginnings, and I was thrilled to have Sofia Poppert answer some questions about her relationship with music, the processes and themes that fueled Blue Heaven’s creation, and more.
Travis Shosa: “Hey Sofia! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. You’re actually the first interview in our site’s brief existence, so I appreciate you helping me mark the occasion. How’re things?”
Sofia Poppert/Funeral Homes: “Hi! Thank you so much for having me, I’m glad to be the first! I’m doing good, life’s been pretty crazy the last six months since my fiancé and I moved to Jacksonville but I couldn’t be happier.”
Shosa: “For the uninitiated, how would you describe the Funeral Homes project?”
Poppert: “Funeral Homes is a vessel for self exploration and understanding for me. I tend to ignore my emotions to an unhealthy extent but music allows me to tap into my feelings again and really sit and analyze them.”
Shosa: “Your debut album Lavender House was certainly an adventurous effort. Not content to sit with one mood or mode for long. Over seven tracks, you hopped between country, emo, dream pop, and even lo-fi death metal on Superdestroyer collaboration “DRK.” Who and what are some of the influences that inspired you to be pulled in so many directions artistically?”
Poppert: “I grew up on so many different kinds of music. My dad and I would listen to anything from Pavement and The Smiths to Morbid Angel and Rise Against together in the car. He definitely influenced my music taste in a big way, which is just as diverse today. That album came together from exploring what I wanted Funeral Homes to really be. I had just gotten my own recording equipment and most of those songs started out as the first demos I properly recorded at home.”
Shosa: “With your new album, Blue Heaven, you take a more focused approach, exploring shoegaze: a genre you mention falling back in love with in 2020. Was there anything in particular you can point to that caused your appreciation to return to the extent that you’d go all in on the sound?”
Poppert: “Honestly, getting into My Bloody Valentine. I know that sounds like sooo typical shoegaze but it’s true. I never gave them much of a listen besides “Only Shallow” before, but I dove into Loveless during the pandemic and something just clicked. That’s when I started incorporating the whole glide guitar/whammy bar thing that Kevin Shields pioneered into my music. I just really loved how noisy that album is while still retaining its ethereal quality and I knew immediately that was the vibe I wanted for my music going forward.”
Shosa: “While Blue Heaven was recorded in only a couple days, it was written over the course of two years. How would you describe Blue Heaven thematically and how has your life over that period of time informed those themes?”
Poppert: “My life has changed a lot in the last two years. I met my now fiancé in the beginning of 2020, much of the album is about them and our relationship. I owe a lot to where I am in life now to them honestly. I also came out as trans in 2019, so that has been a huge part of my life too. Those are the two topics the album deals with most, love and self-discovery.”
Shosa: “How has the recording process changed between Lavender House and Blue Heaven?“
Poppert: “I recorded Lavender House by myself in my room and I feel like it has that homemade quality and charm to it, but after spending so long putting Blue Heaven together, I knew it needed a proper recording that I could truly be content with, so I reached out to my friend Griffin Marthe. This was my first experience recording in a “studio” environment but I had a really great time and couldn’t be happier with the results.”
Shosa: “The lead single, “Double Vision,” was released yesterday. What about that song did you feel made it the best introduction to Blue Heaven?“
Poppert: “I had originally wanted a different song to be the single, but–when we were recording “Double Vision”–I remember after we finished tracking guitars, Griffin just stopped and looked at me and was like “this is the song” [laughs]. I think it’s a great taste of what’s to come in Blue Heaven. It’s the shortest song but it also packs the most punch.”
Shosa: “Aside from “Double Vision,” is there another song from the album that you’re especially excited for people to hear? If so, why?”
Poppert: “I initially wanted “Fairy Ring” to be the single! Technically that’s the first song I wrote for the album, although it was just the loop that plays at the end. That song just feels magical to me though. I’m really excited for people to hear new versions of “777,” “Before You Leave,” and “By My Side” (now called “Starlit”) as well!”
Shosa: “Lavender House, Blue Heaven… I’m noticing the early signs of a pattern emerging. Can we look forward to more color + location records in the future? Perhaps a Yellow Submarine covers album?”
Poppert: “I was wondering if anyone would pick up on that! I also noticed when they’re abbreviated, the second letter is always h just like if you abbreviated Funeral Homes, and I think that’s kinda neat too. I named the album before I had written a lot of the songs, but afterwards I realized I unintentionally started a pattern that I intend on keeping.”
Shosa: “Funeral Homes has been a one-person bedroom project up until recently, when you hooked up with drummer Jake Rodriguez this past summer. Does this mean Floridians can look forward to catching Funeral Homes at their local venues in the near future?”
Poppert: “Yes! We’ve been practicing like crazy to get ready for shows, potentially some later this year but next year for sure!”
Shosa: “If you could re-score the OST to any film yourself, what would it be?”
Poppert: “I’m a big Twin Peaks fan, so Fire Walk With Me is my first thought. The world of Twin Peaks is surreal enough but I feel like the dreamy atmosphere of my music would pair well!”
Shosa: “Who are three artists or bands you feel don’t receive the attention they deserve, and why?”
Poppert: “Horse Jumper of Love is one of my favorite bands ever and I will not stop until they take over the world. Learning their songs is what got me into alternate tunings. Infinity Girl (RIP) is one of my favorite shoegaze bands ever and I feel like they’re criminally underrated. Their last album is perfect in my opinion, especially the closing track. Memento. is a metalcore band Griffin who recorded the album plays guitar in and they rip. Super nice people and amazing musicians who write great music.”
Shosa: “Anything else you’d like to say before signing off?”
Poppert: “Thank you so much for talking with me!”
Blue Heaven releases next Friday, November 11. It coincides with a remix EP of Funeral Homes’ past and new material titled Version III: Death House, courtesy of Lonely Ghost labelmate (leave) nelson b.
Travis Shosa is the founder and editor-in-chief of Stamens/Pistils/Parties. Formerly the runner of COUNTERZINE, he has bylines at Pitchfork, The Alternative, and Post-Trash among others.