Music

SOPHIE: 1986-2021: The Legacy Left Behind

Written By Phoebe Bowers, Image Courtesy of StayGolden PR

Always the same and never the same Day by day, life after life Without my legs or my hair Without my genes or my blood With no name and with no type of story Where do I live?
Tell me, where do I exist?
We’re just… Im-ma-ma-material, immaterial.

If you don’t know who SOPHIE was you definitely have heard the icons work; your favourite pop artist most likely stands because of SOPHIE. Seminal, ethereal, eclectic, surreal, jarring, beautiful, boundary-pushing, in one word: SOPHIE. The Glasgow born artist and producer died on 30/01/2021 in a tragic accident at the age of 34. Although countless people are heartbroken by SOPHIE’s untimely death, the icon’s legacy will undoubtedly live on. I wholeheartedly believe generations to come will ask us about the infancy of the musician’s career. For me personally SOPHIE’s collection of works have been a soundtrack to my early twenties.

In an interview with Paper magazine in 2018 SOPHIE defined being transgender as “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.” If we look retrospectively at SOPHIE’s life, this definition seems perfectly apt. From a young age SOPHIE adopted spaces that were liminal, being the child of divorced parents and experiencing a duality of parenting styles, SOPHIE was often very isolated, but out of this came musical brilliance encapsulated by the rave scene and electronic music. In an interview published in the feminist newsletter Lenny Letter, SOPHIE detailed how an infatuation with family collections of cassette tapes urged the natural-born artist to make the declaration that one day SOPHIE would be an electronic music producer. SOPHIE had a musical debut in a band called ‘Motherland’, yet upon signing with the record label PC Music, SOPHIE’s career truly skyrocketed. SOPHIE alongside friend and founder A.G. Cook areseen as two of the primary faces behind PC Music and the transcendent artists they have produced include musical icons such as Charli xcx, Hannah Diamond, Kim Petras, and Slayyyter to name a few. PC Music and by extension its sub-genre, hyperpop are both now seen distinctively (that would not have otherwise existed if it was not due to the duo’s stroke of genius and indescribable sound).

It should be noted that SOPHIE’s career was not a walk in the park. The 2014 dance track ‘Hey QT’ co-produced by SOPHIE was deemed ‘a puckish, disrespectful stunt, an act of crude ribbing of pop-music tropes by people who knew nothing about the intentions and origins of that music by deliberate design’ (Vulture, 2021). Moreover the breathtaking and visually stunning ‘It’s Okay to Cry’ music video (one of my favourites) released in 2017, put a face to the name SOPHIE, it received hateful and transphobic backlash. It may appear that SOPHIE was an individual beyond our contemporary binaries, which I think that is simply untrue. We needed SOPHIE now. SOPHIE’s deliberations on gender and identity whether that was vocally, sonically, or visually expanded our minds as well as the conversations we are having and continue to have in the future. Over the course of 2020 in lockdown there was the rise or popularisation of audios being used by other hyperpop artists on TikTok and other forms of social media that are not affiliated with the PC Music label, such as ‘Stupid Horse’ by 100 gecs or ‘Daisy’ and ‘STUPID’ by Ashnikko. Both are original artists in their own right, but their sound undoubtedly exists because of the likes of SOPHIE. Most electronic artists that you love can be traced back to the producer .

SOPHIE has and always will be a star. Fans and colleagues of SOPHIE have called for NASA to name planet TOI-1338 b ‘SOPHIE’ As testament to the musicians iconography. This planet is ‘circumbinary’, meaning it orbits around two stars, which beautifully mimics the legacy of the performer. Additionally this planet seems destined to be for no one else, as it is uncannily coloured in the very same pastel colours as SOPHIE’s Grammy nominated album ‘Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides.’ It seems destined to be ‘planet SOPHIE’.

Recommended SOPHIE listening is the studio album which is universally acclaimed (Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides) and singles ‘BIPP’, ‘VYZEE’ and the ‘Vroom Vroom’ E.P. by Charli xcx (produced by SOPHIE).

For a cohesive playlist, check out Quench’s Spotify here.
Read more about SOPHIE’s impact here.

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