SOPHIE, The Artistic Visionary And Activist

At 4 a.m. on January 30th in Athens, Greece, artist, DJ, and experimental pop producer SOPHIE died at the untimely age of 34, following an accident.

The influential Scottish-born producer who shaped electronic music into bold and original avant-garde pop, was trying to access a vantage point to view the full moon, from where SOPHIE accidently slipped and fell.

A Radical Futurist

SOPHIE has proved repeatedly that music has the ability to speak our truth. The artist, who preferred not to use gendered or nonbinary pronouns, embodied the message that if we are true to ourselves, only then can we hope to live a meaningful life.

SOPHIE believed the idea that one’s path in life does not have to move on a predictive track and that identity is fluid. This fluidity is key to understanding the artist’s work. The producer’s catalogue consists of a string of hits produced for other artists, many collaborations, singles and one album.

The music combined creative pop instincts, experimental musical ideas, bold production, and a persona of someone mischievous, guileless, and very intelligent. SOPHIE’S body of work was essentially hopeful, and vulnerable, and showed us a glimpse into a better future.

SOPHIE was developing a new tonal language. In a 2012 interview with a well-known magazine, SOPHIE described that this music should offer “the same sort of high-thrill three-minute ride as a theme park roller coaster. Where it spins you upside down, dips you in water, flashes strobe lights at you, takes you on a slow incline to the peak, and then drops you vertically down a smokey tunnel, then stops with a jerk, and your hair is all messed up, and some people feel sick, and others are laughing—then you buy a key ring.”

For A Better Tomorrow

When asked by a paper in 2018 about the difference between the artist’s own experience as a trans woman and the world’s grappling with the subject of gender, SOPHIE said; “It’s tradition. If you’re straight from the factory, your life should have a certain look and come with a certain short list of factors that you have to fulfill in your own way. But because of the body that you’re born into, it’s your obligation to satisfy as many of those as possible and that defines being successful.” 

In the following years, the artist abandoned invisibility and anonymity, appearing in person for the vibrant, revealing video for ‘It’s Okay to Cry’, which introduced the world to SOPHIE’s face and voice. Officially coming out as trans, SOPHIE faced accusations of appropriating womanhood.

The amusing oddity about life is living constantly with its inescapable finitude. The only escape being life’s everyday distractions. SOPHIE’s sudden death is once again a reminder; Life is far too short to be spent conforming to another person’s idea of living.

By: Anjana Sathyanarayan