SOPHIE, a pioneer in the hyperpop space who captivated listeners with an avant-garde style mixing and matching pop and EDM, passed away early this year at the age of 34.
Though SOPHIE’s music will live on and continue to inspire future musicians, the loss of the artist will undoubtedly be felt in the pop community for years to come.
SOPHIE was first introduced to electronic music at the age of 7, and quickly became fascinated with the genre, declaring an intention to become an electronic music producer at the age of 9. At 10 years old, SOPHIE attended an EDM concert for the first time, something that would become a regular occurrence in SOPHIE’s formative years. SOPHIE first displayed work to the world in the early 2000s after joining the multi-media performance group Motherland. In 2013 SOPHIE began releasing music on streaming platforms, gaining media attention after the release of “Bipp,” the artist’s second single. The track, which featured a bubbly and kinetic beat paired with high pitched vocals, was beyond well-received from critics, notably placing 17th on Pitchfork’s end of the year list.
The following year, “Lemonade” was released, a song full of SOPHIE’s signature synthesized texture, accented with upbeat and almost robotic vocals. The single, which prominently featured a consumerist aesthetic, would fittingly be used in a McDonald’s commercial. In late 2014 SOPHIE found a group of like-minded artists in the London-based PC Music collective, collaborating with the likes of A.G. Cook, Charli XCX, and even Madonna, who propelled SOPHIE’s production style into the mainstream.
Despite all of the aforementioned success, SOPHIE’s face or unaltered voice were never featured; the artist remained largely behind the scenes until 2017 and the release of “It’s Okay to Cry.” The song, along with its accompanying music video, was a means for SOPHIE to come out as a transgender woman, through lyrics connecting to the topic of identity. In interviews following the release of the song, SOPHIE talks about how embracing a trans identity was an opportunity to subvert the expectations and forces that control the lives of many trans people.
“It’s Okay to Cry,” alongside its concomitant album, Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, stayed true to the artist’s maximalist-pop style, while the inclusion of SOPHIE’s physical presence in the spotlight gave the album a more personal and vulnerable feel. After receiving high praise from critics, the album was nominated for a Grammy in 2019, making it undoubtedly SOPHIE’s magnum opus, which the artist will sadly never have an opportunity to top.