The world lost a revolutionary last Saturday morning.
SOPHIE, Scottish producer and transgender icon, passed away at the age of 34 in Athens, Greece. One of the most influential and innovative artists working today, SOPHIE left an indelible mark on the sound of current pop. SOPHIE frequently collaborated with PC Music mastermind A.G. Cook and hyperpop superstar Charli XCX, in addition to rapper Vince Staples, pop legend Madonna, and fellow avant–garde diva Arca. The diversity of SOPHIE's resume is a testament to the artist's sheer talent.
A peerless visionary, SOPHIE created spaces for queer joy and rebellion with textures unheard of before. With the release of the 2013 single "BIPP," SOPHIE quickly gained a reputation for melding avant–garde sound design and pop sensibilities into a unique concoction characterized by latex squeaks, metallic pings, high–pitched voices, and deep bass. Back then, SOPHIE presented anonymously. Press was scarce, but when photos did appear, they were of brightly colored slides or the name "SOPHIE" stylized in an alien font. No one had any idea what SOPHIE looked like, much less how the artist created such otherworldly sounds. The allure around the person behind this strange, uncanny music pushed the artist from underground acclaim to genuine stardom.
After releasing the polarizing compilation album Product in 2015, SOPHIE appeared fully formed in the cover art of the boundary–breaking debut, 2017's OIL OF EVERY PEARL'S UN–INSIDES. Notable not only for its unconventional pop production, the album introduced SOPHIE as a tour–de–force of larger–than–life proportions. Indeed, it solidified the artist's reputation as one of the most visible trans artists in the industry. As the years went on, everyone waited to see what SOPHIE would do next.
In a shocking turn of events, leaving millions of fans aghast, SOPHIE fell from a three–story apartment building at 4 a.m on Jan. 30 while photographing the moon. In an instant, the story became as mythic as Elvis Presley's passing. Social media lit up with pictures of the full moon from that night, gently illuminating a cragged Parthenon. Fans dubbed it SOPHIE's moon.
When I heard the news early that morning while getting ready for work, I sat in disbelief. An overwhelming sense of grief flooded me. SOPHIE was an artist whom I had looked up to as a queer role model since my high school days in the closet. Now, the artist is gone, with just two albums released. And, it appeared, given SOPHIE's recent spew of remixes, that the artist was gearing up for a new era.
All I could think about on the way to work was SOPHIE's legacy, and how unfinished it was. The sophomore album I had dreamed up in my head would never be, especially given SOPHIE's public reticence. SOPHIE once said something along the lines of preferring to communicate through music and music alone. While I was at my job, SOPHIE's death consumed my thoughts, hindering my interactions with customers and my co–workers. I needed a space to cry and I knew the bathroom, with its limited space, would not provide it. So I held in the tears for a few more hours until I came back home and listened to SOPHIE's final release in tribute. The opening song nearly broke me, like a message from the afterlife. I still cannot accept the fact that an artist who dreamed so much of the future will now be without it. SOPHIE gave us a whole new world. Now it is our duty to bring it to fruition.