Sophie, the visionary Grammy-nominated Scottish pop musician and producer, has died in Athens, Greece, at the age of 34, her management confirmed earlier this morning. “True to her spirituality she had climbed up to watch the full moon and accidentally slipped and fell,” read the statement on behalf of Transgressive Records. “She will always be here with us.”
Renowned for her radically inventive, genre-bending take on pop that influenced both the worlds of underground dance music and the mainstream, Sophie began her career on the London club circuit in the early 2010s following the release of her first single “Nothing More To Say.” Her 2015 compilation PRODUCT brought her wider attention for its skewed take on pop featuring metallic, textural synths and sugary-sweet, heavily processed vocals, as did her ongoing collaborations with the agenda-setting UK pop collective PC Music, most notably in the one-off single “Hey QT” which featured the tongue-in-cheek, highly manufactured pop star QT as its face.
Throughout this period, Sophie remained intentionally anonymous: but with the release of her single “It’s Okay To Cry” in 2017, the musician stepped into the spotlight, appearing prominently in the music video and providing her own vocals. At the same time, she came out as transgender, making her one of the most prominent trans voices in pop. “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,” Sophie said in a 2018 interview with Paper magazine. “It means you’re not a mother or a father – you’re an individual who’s looking at the world and feeling the world. And it’s somehow more human and universal, I feel.”
In 2018, she released her debut album, Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, to widespread critical acclaim. Merging the high-energy abrasive hyperpop of her earlier work with moments of eerie, heartfelt balladry, the record was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Dance/Electronic Album category and topped the lists at many publications as one of the best albums of the year. More recently, it was ranked by Pitchfork as one of the greatest albums of the 2010s. Alongside the high praise for her album, Sophie was also a celebrated live performer, known for the raucous nature of her shows, which evolved to include dance routines and laser shows, while also providing a safe and inclusive space for her loyal queer following.
Her boundary-breaking take on the genre saw her work extensively with the similarly provocative pop maverick Charli XCX, and even caught the attention of Madonna, with whom she co-wrote the singer’s 2015 track “Bitch I’m Madonna.” Meanwhile, Sophie’s chameleonic style, which encompassed everything from glamorous vintage beaded gowns to futuristic femmebot latex, quickly saw her become a fashion muse too, most memorably with the music video for “It’s Okay To Cry” appearing as the backdrop to Nicolas Ghesquière’s spring/summer 2020 collection for Louis Vuitton.
Most recently, Sophie had been living in Athens, Greece, where she died at home on Saturday morning. “At this time respect and privacy for the family is our priority,” her management also added. “We would also ask for respect for SOPHIE’s fanbase, and to treat the private nature of this news with sensitivity.”
Tributes have poured in from luminaries of the music world including Nile Rodgers, Christine and the Queens, and Sam Smith, with many from the LGBTQIA+ community also sharing her significance as one of the most visible trans performers working in music over the past years. As the model and activist Munroe Bergdorf wrote on Twitter: “Our community has lost an icon, a pioneer and a visionary bright light.”
This article was originally published on Vogue.com