On the night of 31st January, as I was scrolling mindlessly through twitter, I came across a tweet from one of my mutual followers that changed the course of my night, for the worse. The tweet read, “Devastated to hear about the loss of SOPHIE. I thank you for helping me become who I am today, and who I might be tomorrow” attached with a picture of the phenomenal pop producer, SOPHIE Xeon. These rumours were later confirmed by SOPHIE’s UK record label, Transgressive, that released a statement regarding the 34-year-old artist’s tragic death in Greece. The statement read, “True to her spirituality, SOPHIE had climbed to watch the full moon and slipped and fell.”
Rather than talking about emotions, naming them and laying things out for the listener, SOPHIE’s music was obsessed with the power of emotions, as can be seen in her singles “Bipp“, “Like we never say “Goodbye“, and “It’s Okay to Cry“. SOPHIE’s heavy fixation on the power of giving yourself permission to feel with full intensity, without any inhibitions is a constant reassurance to all LGBT+ teenagers who grew up questioning their validity, in places where disruption of the cisgender-heterosexual norm is almost always met with backlash. SOPHIE’s music not only provided some solace in a world where growing up closeted is nothing short of hell, but was also full of hope for a future world that was representative of everything progressive — the kind of world you would want to live in.
SOPHIE’s unapologetic attitude towards her music and herself has not only been influential and life changing for the pop music industry, but also for her fans. From the very beginning of her musical journey, SOPHIE adamantly refused to put her face on her work, or even create social media accounts in a world and industry that relies so much on social media — she claimed that she wanted her music speak to for her instead, and thus served as an inspiration for fans worldwide by showing them that it is not necessary to adhere to the rules that the world has set up for them, in order to live in it. But, this did not let SOPHIE shy away from reclaiming her voice and space as a transwoman, undeterred by the long list of critics and journalists who were constantly over analyzing her work and misreading it, some going as far as misgendering her.
SOPHIE was always a huge advocate of transparency and authenticity, both through her music and her words. Electronic music is often considered inauthentic or inferior to music that is more vocal in nature, however SOPHIE believed that “authenticity” is an individual and evolving process. In an interview with Sasha Geffin early on in her career, she said, “A lot of people are interested in recreating an idea of the past, like the post-punk era or something, and would view this kind of recreation as less authentic…I think being completely authentic about the time you live in is something that I would view as a career-long objective — to find out what is authentically this moment.” Music was her way of asserting her true identity and expression. It was a reciprocation of how she experienced the world around her.
In a world where the LGBT+ community, especially transgender and non-binary people, are expected to provide evidence and justification for their identity all the time, SOPHIE’s music comes as an escape, creating an environment of experimentation and innovation that is like a playground for gender expression and identity.
Calling SOPHIE a revolutionary genius is not an overstatement because she was light years ahead of her peers when it came to creativity and vision. She influenced an entire generation, both as an artist and as a person by reconstructing pop music and reimagining a worldview that places innovation at its core.
SOPHIE’s loss is enormous for the music industry, but it is an even bigger loss for her family, friends and fans, whose lives SOPHIE coloured with compassion above everything else. They will live up to her legacy and keep honoring what was so close to her heart.
Image Credits: SOPHIE, YouTube
Madhulika Agarwal is a third year English and Media Studies major who is interested in literature by children and for children. When she is not lamenting over her tiktok career that ended before it could start, she likes learning about animals and reading books with good art in them.
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