Michael Forward

SOPHIE: A Eulogy

SOPHIE’s passing is a tragedy. There are few musicians in the world right now who could unite a community and inspire hope like SOPHIE. For many, SOPHIE was the pioneer of some of the most interesting sounds and developments in modern pop music, having created a wholly original style that serves as the foundation for the rising hyperpop genre. She was also a trans icon who brought reassurance and inspiration to her massive LGBT fanbase. In her short time as a musician, SOPHIE has already created a legacy that will never be forgotten.

SOPHIE very quickly made a mark on pop music with the early solo record “BIPP” in 2013, which showcased the Scottish producer’s signature liquid-metal textures, avant-garde beats and bubbly pop vocals and melodies. The following compilation album, Product (2015), was like looking into the future of pop music; SOPHIE’s made-from-scratch sounds and instruments painted a picture of a fantastical world where pop, dystopia, and enchantment seamlessly intermingle and play off each other.

As well as an impressive solo debut, SOPHIE also helped kickstart the PC Music label by producing QT’s “Hey QT” along with the label’s founder, A.G. Cook. PC Music would go on to be the defining sound of underground pop in the late 2010s, with its focus on hyper-exaggerated pop elements, slick production and visuals, and homemade celebrity spreading far beyond the limited number of artists signed to the label. Communities of people who championed this music started to form, as SOPHIE and PC Music continued to create new, interesting, and artful pop music that challenged existing notions of what pop could be.

In particular, Charli XCX’s revival with the SOPHIE-produced Vroom Vroom (2016) EP marked a turning point for the producer and PC Music as a movement, granting the sound a greater visibility than ever before. The influence of SOPHIE’s abrasive production style on Charli’s career can still be felt today, with 2020’s how i’m feeling now showing clear similarities in songs like “pink diamond” and “claws”. It’s hard to think of a single song that sits in the PC Music-hyperpop space that doesn’t owe something to SOPHIE.

In 2018, SOPHIE finally revealed her voice and image with the enchanting single “It’s Okay To Cry”. It was at this time that SOPHIE  came out as a transgender woman. The subsequent album, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES (2018), was a stunning and beautiful exploration of various issues surrounding personal identity that developed an intimacy between SOPHIE and her listeners, while continuing to develop her already unique sound. Following the success of this new album and her reputation in the community, SOPHIE went on to produce singles for pop mega-stars like Madonna and Lady Gaga. For those of us in the community, SOPHIE was like the figurehead of a new pop revolution, and many LGBT listeners looked up to SOPHIE as a light of inspiration.

Beloved and respected by her fans, colleagues, and friends, SOPHIE’s passing is a tragedy. While SOPHIE did not owe anyone new music, there was the feeling that she could have totally transformed the world if she wanted to. With that said, SOPHIE’s impact on pop music can already be felt and will inspire for years to come. To SOPHIE’s many fans who struggle with their identity, her music is both a reassuring arm around the shoulder and the inspiration to mould yourself into whatever you desire. A true legend and icon has been lost today. May SOPHIE rest in peace.