Remembering SOPHIE: Trans Icon and Pioneer of Hyperpop

Remembering SOPHIE: Trans Icon and Pioneer of Hyperpop

SOPHIE, a Scottish singer-songwriter, who garnered attention for her electric dance-pop style of music and her trans activism, has passed away at 34.

Her publicity company, Modern Matters, announced that she climbed up to the roof of her home in Athens, Greece to see the full moon when she  accidentally slipped and fell. She later died.

Sophie Xeon, who produced music under the name SOPHIE, leaves behind lasting impacts in the music world and the LGBTQ+ community.

SOPHIE was known for her unique sound and trans identity, and will be remembered for how she affected the way people think about music and gender.

SOPHIE: The Original Pioneer of Hyperpop

According to Pitchfork, “It’s hard to imagine hyperpop existing in its current form without SOPHIE.” From a musical standpoint, her involvement in the advancement of a unique genre of music cannot be understated. 

SOPHIE emerged in the early 2010s when she reached the European club circuit, according to Pitchfork. Her first release “Nothing More to Say,” came in 2013, and in 2015, she released a series of 8 singles. One of these, “Bipp,” was an instant sensation and put SOPHIE on the map as per The Ringer.

Since “Bipp,” questions about SOPHIE’s identity have abounded, though she largely stayed anonymous. SOPHIE’s own doing mostly maintained that anonymity, even as she became more popular and well-known.

SOPHIE’s Trans Identity

SOPHIE stayed out of the spotlight, going so far as to use a voice distorter during interviews and other performers during live performances, even as her fame continued to grow. She produced songs with Charli XCX and PC Music, and collaborated with Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar on “Yeah Right.”

SOPHIE received criticism for her elusive identity. In an interview with The Guardian from 2015, Grimes said, “It’s really fucked up to call yourself Sophie and pretend you’re a girl when you’re a male producer [and] there are so few female producers.”

SOPHIE was also included in a “feminine appropriation” list of male artists and misgendered frequently, including on the red carpet at the Grammys in 2019, when she was nominated for best electronic/dance album.

Two years after the Grimes comment, SOPHIE released “It’s Okay to Cry.” It’s a deeply personal track; she sings in second person but is talking to and about herself. She sings, “I can see the truth through all the lies / And even after all this time / Just know you’ve got nothing to hide / It’s okay to cry.”

The Ringer called “It’s Okay” a “proper introduction.” Though SOPHIE was years into her career, the release of this song was a turning point for her. In a 2019 interview with DJMag, SOPHIE talked about the track, saying, “Initially I was quite all right with letting the music speak for itself, but then the problem is, people start filling in the gaps for you.” 

SOPHIE: A Musical Trans Icon

She has been described as a trans icon, challenging people around the world to reckon with the concepts of gender and identity. She represented what the future of gender (or lack thereof) could look like. 

In a 2018 interview with Paper, Sophie said, “For me, transness is taking control to bring your body more in line with your soul and spirit so the two aren’t fighting against each other and struggling to survive.”

She added that part of being a trans individual is going through a journey to discover yourself, and once you reach a certain place, you gain an ability to look at people with openness, as opposed to judgement.

As the world learned of SOPHIE’s passing, tributes came in from around the music and LGBTQ+ world.

On Twitter, FKA twigs called SOPHIE “a star of our generation.” On Instagram, HAIM posted an image of SOPHIE with the caption “you changed music forever. you were always the biggest light to be around. always inspired by you. we love u 💙.

The statement from her publicist said, “SOPHIE was a pioneer of a new sound, one of the most influential artists in the last decade. Not only for ingenious production and creativity but also for the message and visibility that was achieved. An icon of liberation.”