Sophie, influential avant-pop music producer, dies at 34
Sophie died early Saturday morning in Athens, Greece, where she had been living, following a sudden accident. Her record label Transgressive confirmed the news in a statement, 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. The family thank everyone for their love and support and request privacy at this devastating time."
Born and raised in Glasgow, Sophie became enamored with music at an early age. In a 2018 interview with Lenny Letter, she recalled her father "taking me to raves when I was very young" and listening to cassette tapes of electronic music, which soon inspired her to begin making her own music.
"I would be on my own a lot of the time, doing music. It was an escapism thing," she remembered. "I used to say to everyone, even at 13, 14 years old, 'When I get home from school, I'm just going to lock myself in my room until I've made an album.'"
Sophie rose quickly through the pop music scene, beginning with the release of her singles "Bipp" and "Lemonade" in 2013 and 2014. Both caught the attention of music critics and anticipated the sound of the next several years of experimental pop. Shortly thereafter, Sophie was drafted to work on Madonna's 2015 single "Bitch I'm Madonna," and began a longstanding collaboration with Charli XCX, helping the singer shift toward an electronic pop sound.
"I think all pop music should be about who can make the loudest, brightest thing," Sophie told Rolling Stone in 2015. "I'm interested in [using] current technology, current images and people, to make the brightest, most intense engaging thing."
Sophie retained an air of anonymity throughout this period of her career, refusing to be photographed and maintaining an intense privacy. However, she appeared and sang for the first time on the single "It's Okay to Cry" and its music video in 2017, and came out as a trans woman soon afterward.
Discussing her identity with Paper magazine in 2018, Sophie said, "For me, transness is 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. On this earth, it's that you can get closer to how you feel your true essence is without the societal pressures of having to fulfill certain traditional roles based on gender."
In 2018, Sophie released her only studio album, Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album.
Sophie released the single "UNISIL" through her YouTube channel on Thursday, and a posthumous release of further music may follow. In June, producer BloodPop recalled collaborating with Sophie during sessions for Lady Gaga's Chromatica, saying the songs she worked on didn't make the album, but that "we still plan to finish those songs and present something special within the Chromatica universe."
Following the news of Sophie's death, many in the music community paid tribute to the producer, mourning her passing on social media. "The world has lost an angel. A true visionary and icon of our generation," Sam Smith wrote on Twitter. "Your light will continue to inspire so many for generations to come."
"Sophie was a stellar producer, a visionary, a reference," wrote Christine and the Queens. "She rebelled against the narrow, normative society by being an absolute triumph, both as an artist and as a woman. I can't believe she is gone. We need to honor and respect her memory and legacy. Cherish the pioneers."
Added Jack Antonoff, "The loss of Sophie is huge. She's been at the forefront for a long time and we see her influence in every corner of music. If you're not aware of what she has done then today is the day to listen to all her brilliant work. You'll hear an artist who arrived before everyone else."