SOPHIE Dead At 34
SOPHIE, the pioneering and influential Scottish electronic producer, is dead. A representative confirms to Pitchfork that SOPHIE accidentally fell from a rooftop at 4AM in Athens, Greece, where she’s been living. A statement from the record labels Future Classic and Transgressive reads, “Tragically our beautiful Sophie passed away this morning after a terrible accident. 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. The family thank everyone for their love and support and request privacy at this devastating time.”
SOPHIE grew up in Glasgow, where her father introduced her to electronic music at a young age and even took her along to raves before age 10, about which time she decided she wanted to become a producer. She soon began DJing weddings and parties. Upon growing up, she played in the band Motherland for a few years before shifting focus to solo music under the name SOPHIE. Her debut single “Nothing More To Say” arrived in 2013. Its follow-up, the clattering, tuneful, weightless “Bipp,” became an underground sensation and attracted critical acclaim. XLR8R named it the #1 track of 2013, praising SOPHIE for “moving into a corner of the electronic spectrum that was not only unoccupied, but off the map entirely.”
SOPHIE began to work closely with artists from the PC Music label. In 2014, she and PC Music founder A. G. Cook launched QT, a performance art project in which US artist Hayden Dunham acted as a fictional pop star whose sole single “Hey QT” doubled as an ad for an energy drink. (They even manufactured and sold the drink.) The same year, SOPHIE’s avant-garde production work continued in the form of singles “Lemonade” and “Hard,” which continued her pursuit of unusual rhythms and textures and helped to further define the style now known as hyperpop.
Her 2015 debut album PRODUCT compiled her string of acclaimed singles plus new material. It was available for purchase as a sex toy among other formats. From there, SOPHIE began increasingly working with figures in or around the pop mainstream, including Charli XCX, whose Vroom Vroom EP and subsequent mixtapes Number 1 Angel and Pop 2 established her as one of the most forward-looking artists in pop. There were collabs with artists ranging from Madonna to Vince Staples to Let’s Eat Grandma to Cashmere Cat and Camila Cabello. The influence of her shapeshifting, genre-obliterating approach worked its way across the music world, sometimes in surprising places.
With October 2017’s “It’s Okay To Cry,” SOPHIE used her own voice on a track for the first time and came out as a transgender woman. The track was the lead single from her 2018 album Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, which saw her translating her avant-garde electronic style into left-of-center pop music while also exploring ambient instrumentals. Album highlight “Immaterial” notably played on Madonna’s “Material Girl” from a trans perspective: “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?” The album was nominated for a Grammy, making SOPHIE one of a small handful of trans artists to be nominated.
In recent years SOPHIE has spoken about a number of upcoming projects, including several full-length albums and a remix LP. The first officially sanctioned edit of one of her tracks, Autechre’s remix of “Bipp,” was released on a 7″ with an old unused original called “UNISIL” just yesterday. Below, revisit some of her best-loved music.