Written by George Mann
In a statement released over the weekend, SOPHIE’s family announced the devastating news that she is no longer with us, writing:
“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.”
Growing up, SOPHIE’s mother was her main parental figure creating a warmth in her house that often felt missing throughout her childhood, which she spent mainly alone. Her father was colder and often more distant, only really connecting with her through festivals and raves. Born on 17 September 1986, in Glasgow, Sophie discovered electronic music at the age of seven whilst she was rifling through her father’s and stepbrother’s rave cassettes. She was immediately hooked. Experiencing a childhood plagued with alienation, she found an escape in music and would often offset her most powerful and profound memories with songs. SOPHIE felt that electronic music transported her to a new dimension.
She was obsessed with Sci-Fi, aliens and found that the celestial sounds of artists like Kraftwerk merged with that. Her father would always point out that the majority of people are obsessed with nostalgia when it comes to music but that the future of music was electronic. This led to SOPHIE and her father attending her first rave together at the age of 10, this would quickly become a regular bonding activity and her father would play the rave cassettes on the car journey, emphasising the importance of the genre.
Her mother also played an important part in her musical development as she introduced SOPHIE to disco, which may not initially seem integral to her music, but was actually incredibly influential. SOPHIE said in an interview for LENNY Letters that, “A lot of the stuff I’ve done takes the attitude of disco but tries to bring the sound world forward” and that, “we’re in a different world now. I’m trying to imagine music that’s positive, liberating, weird, dark and could be in the current day.”SOPHIE enrolled in art school at age 18 to study sculpture where she found herself drawn to artists like Matthew Barney, whose film series The Cremaster Cycle, helped her explore trans worldly body aesthetics. Although she never fully explained why, SOPHIE eventually left art school for Berlin where she joined a mixed medium performance group called Motherland. It was here that SOPHIE felt able to showcase her music for the first time alongside her band mates.
After touring with the group, SOPHIE moved back to the UK where she carried on working on her music. In 2013, she released her debut single Nothing More to Say on the UK house label Huntleys + Palmers which subsequently led to her playing at a beach party at OFFSónar later that year, where a completely unknown SOPHIE absolutely smashed it with a live set of fully formed hits. SOPHIE then went on to cause a sensation in her now infamous 2014 boiler room show, where she hired a drag queen to impersonate her whilst she stood off stage disguised as security. It was her next single, LEMONADE, that would introduce her to the wider music scene and would also go on to feature in a 2015 McDonalds advert.
In 2015, following a successful collaboration with PC music fundamentalist A. G. Cook, SOPHIE was able to snag a collaboration with Madonna and co-produced her summer hit B*tch I’m Madonna. Although SOPHIE preferred not to use gendered pronouns, in 2017, she released her single It’s Okay to Cry, the lead single from her debut album, Oil of Every Pearls Un-Insides. The accompanying video was seen as SOPHIE reintroducing herself as a transgender woman and the song deals with questions of identity and coming to terms with one’s true self. Her debut album was released in June 2018 and went on to be nominated for best dance / electronic album at the 2019 Grammy awards.
The influence that SOPHIE has / had is evident in the outpouring of personal accounts from fans and other artists over social media since the news of her passing broke. The feeling is surreal. I can’t say I ever had the opportunity to see SOPHIE live but I know many people that have been comforted and influenced by the artist’s music.
Our hearts remain scattered, thank you SOPHIE. We shall look to the moon and think of you.