Celebrating SOPHIE

Tributes have been pouring in to commemorate the life and career of SOPHIE, following a tragic accident in the early hours of Saturday morning (30th of January). The news was confirmed in a statement from labels Transgressive and Future Sound, writing: “True to her spirituality she had climbed up to watch the full moon and accidentally slipped and fell. She will always be here with us.”

Fellow musicians, those that have had the privilege of working alongside SOPHIE and beyond, have taken to Twitter to express their respect, admiration and condolences. 

The 34 year-old musician and producer’s legacy is hard to pin down, as SOPHIE constantly worked to break and redefine boundaries of genre and sound. Starting as a faceless, almost formless entity, the distinctive musical style lacked this same anonymity as the DJ emerged from the European club scene to release the PRODUCT ep in 2015. Tracks like ‘BIPP’ and ‘LEMONADE’ reveal a sleek hybrid state of clunky, industrial techno beats and pitched up pop vocals. SOPHIE was, undeniably, one of the founding figures of the hyperactive, future-driven PC Music genre that has since exploded from the fringes of the internet into popular culture.

These faceless years are further defined by her refusal to accept the confines of what underground and mainstream music are permitted to be. With an impressive back-catalogue that boasts production with major names including Madonna, Vince Staples, and Charli XCX, the genre-bending sound pushed the margins of what popular music can achieve, the musician was staking a claim in its revolution. Speaking in 2019, Charli XCX claimed: “There are very few artists who make me feel something up my core and make me wanna cry. Justice and Uffie made me feel something when I was 14, and I didn’t really have that feeling again until I met Sophie. I felt this rush of: Fuck, this is the coolest shit I have ever heard.”

In 2017 SOPHIE dropped the lead single and video for what would become a Grammy nominated debut album, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES. The track, titled ‘It’s Okay to Cry’, was a stark statement of vulnerability, introducing the artist in a whole new light. More stripped back than previous work, it holds the same intensity, simply remodelled. As a whole, the album is an ode to excess, a journey through a world of SOPHIE’s own creation, filled with blinding ecstasy and fear. Unlike ‘It’s Okay to Cry’tracks like ‘Ponyboy’ ooze unashamed confidence and sexuality, proclaiming “Harness your toy / Just a little ponyboy / Well gimme that fast!” 

SOPHIE. Credit: Lea Colombo for i-D.

At the time, this first video felt like a direct address to fans. SOPHIE was staring the world directly in the eye and unveiling the mystique. It was the start of a new era, celebrating the musician’s physical and emotional presence, and, in turn, coming out as transgender. Whilst the music felt liberating creatively, this identity provided many with an effervescent feeling of visibility. Speaking openly to Paper Magazine in 2018, SOPHIE said: “Transness is taking control to bring your body more in line with your soul and spirit so the two aren’t fighting against each other and struggling to survive … It means you’re not a mother or a father – you’re an individual who’s looking at the world and feeling the world.” 

As expressed in ‘Immaterial’: “I could be anything I want / Anyhow, anywhere / Any place, anyone that I want”. SOPHIE was a force and a visionary, coupling wild ambition with unadulterated energy to create something truly new. The legacy not only lives on through the artist’s music, it is also felt in the community that has been brought so much raw joy in simply experiencing it. 

SOPHIE – It’s Okay to Cry (Official Video) via SOPHIE on YouTube.

Header image: SOPHIE. Credit: Press, via NME.