It’s hard to surmise a musician as defining as SOPHIE. I have thought about how one could possibly put her work into words, but I think it’s best said by a tweet posted just a few hours after news of her passing:
Not to be melodramatic but she invented a future when a future felt fake
— ben (@ben_awareness) January 30, 2021
Though to someone unaware of SOPHIE and the pop landscape in which she operated, this tweet may seem “melodramatic”. But to those aware of, and likely in love with her work, this tweet made perfect sense. Pop music has found itself lost in the wave of nostalgia that has gripped every corner of entertainment for the better have of the last half-decade, diving back into the disco, synths, and classic rock sounds of the 70s and 80s. but while her peers looked backward, SOPHIE left them behind and drove forward.
SOPHIE carved a path towards a future for the sound of pop when her peers couldn’t even fathom a way through. SOPHIE was – and will continue to be – the future of pop music. The influence of her production work can be heard in every corner of pop; from artists like Charli XCX who followed her into the obscure futuristic landscape that she had carefully curated to those who remain in the mainstream plucking pieces of extremism to add an edge to their sound. But the distinct sound SOPHIE so meticulously crafted was not about edge or extremism, but instead, it was about not being afraid of being the loudest, brightest and boldest version of herself.
In an industry so defined by its labels and its genres and its structures, SOPHIE freed herself of all boundaries, upending pop music by challenging gender, feminity, and the human identity, questioning the very structures our world was built upon and doing so over loud, unapologetic pop music that throbbed with more life than most could muster in a lifetime. Every inch of the musical landscape SOPHIE built was wide and spacious, warm and welcoming, offering a warm home to anyone who could see the brilliance of her vision. Her music was playful yet serious, bright yet consequential. Her music is simply unforgettable, as is she.
It’s hard to surmise a musician as defining as SOPHIE; a genius, a visionary, a trans icon. Those are all true and yet they are all understatements. SOPHIE’s sound and influence will always be felt everywhere in the industry. SOPHIE’s presence will always be there, echoing in the back of every pop song you ever hear. She tore down walls and barriers to creativity and for her community, giving chances to stars that would never have seen the night sky without her. SOPHIE was a lot of things, but most of all she was truly alive, which is more than so many of us can say about ourselves. She lived every moment unapologetically as her truest self and invited all of us to do the same in her bright, poptastic world where everything was a question and there was no right answer. SOPHIE was, and always will be, the future of pop music, and that’s still an understatement.