The young trans producer was one of the music industry’s best-kept secrets.
By Marissa Lee.
It was a tough day for many when news of SOPHIE’s sudden passing broke this past weekend. In a heart-wrenching statement on Saturday morning, SOPHIE’s management announced that the music producer had passed away following an incident that took place in Athens, where she was living at the time. “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,” the statement read.
There are many factors in the young producer’s life that enhance the sense of loss surrounding her death, including her lasting impact on the music industry. The Scottish-born, L.A.-based rapper was audacious in everything she did, from her proud existence as a trans artist and icon to her work as a producer for other artists, and her own musical endeavours. She had built up an impressive CV, producing music for the likes of Rihanna, Vince Staples, Madonna, and Nicki Minaj, and received a Grammy nomination for her 2018 debut album, Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides.
Accolades aside, SOPHIE’s own sound was arguably her biggest accomplishment. Her projects resemble highly-saturated and pixelated soundscapes that pioneered the genre known as hyperpop and paved the way for similar sonic aesthetics. Her singles such as “Lemonade” and “Hard” transformed her from unknown DJ to underground EDM darling, and landed her on the paths of many of today’s top artists.
In musical review, there’s often a sort of reverence expressed when referring to hyperpop; although the genre’s sound is brash and austere, it is also very highly-respected, similar to SOPHIE herself. Music journals and listeners alike have likened it to an amalgamation of other genres such as K-Pop, J-Pop, bubblegum pop, and Eurodance, however SOPHIE employed her own methods to accomplish her sound. Likening the construction of a track to building a sculpture out of different materials, she used production equipment to create sounds resembling latex, balloons, bubbles, metal, plastic, and elastic.
The signature hyperpop SOPHIE sound was plucked from underground obscurity and subsequently enlisted to a number of artists’ work, including rapper Vince Staples’ Big Fish Theory album in which SOPHIE’s bubbly and neon sound can be heard on tracks such as “745” and “Yeah Right.” Staples expressed his sadness over the loss of the producer in a series of tweets in the hours following her death. Other artists such as Rihanna and FKA twigs expressed their reverence for the producer as well.
While still young, SOPHIE had a lot to show for her talents, the majority of which was conveyed through her underground musical style and the enhancement she offered to the work of many other artists. Although secretive of her personal life, it’s easy to see that the producer’s mission was to make art first; all the rest followed. Thanks to SOPHIE, the world now knows the intricacies of the hyperpop sound and has been offered indelible work by its creator.