Culture Trips

Sophie, acclaimed avant-pop producer, dies aged 34 | Electronic music

Sophie, the Grammy-nominated Scottish musician whose high-intensity electronic productions pushed the boundaries of 21st-century pop, has died aged 34.

Sophie’s management confirmed to the Guardian that the artist died around 4am at home in Athens, “following a sudden accident. At this time respect and privacy for the family is our priority. We would also ask for respect for her fanbase, and to treat the private nature of this news with sensitivity.”

The statement said the producer 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.”

Sophie’s UK label Transgressive added: “True to her spirituality she had climbed up to watch the full moon and accidentally slipped and fell. She will always be here with us.”

Sophie Xeon was born and raised in Glasgow, and released debut single Nothing More to Say in 2013. Sophie broke through to a wider audience with another release that year, Bipp, and a subsequent run of acclaimed singles were compiled in 2015 on Product.

2018 saw the release of debut album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, which was nominated for a Grammy for best dance/electronic album and was one of the year’s best-reviewed releases in any genre. The Guardian wrote: “Sophie has crafted a genuinely original sound and uses it to visit extremes of terror, sadness and pleasure.”

The freshness of the productions, informed by pop and trance but with abrasive industrial flourishes, led Sophie to be courted by Madonna, and to co-write her 2015 single Bitch I’m Madonna. Sophie also collaborated with rapper Vince Staples, indie duo Let’s Eat Grandma, pop singers Charli XCX and Kim Petras, and more.

Sophie was transgender, and discussed gender identity in a 2018 interview with Paper magazine, saying: “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 … It means you’re not a mother or a father – you’re an individual who’s looking at the world and feeling the world.” Sophie’s team said that pronouns should not be used when describing the artist.

Among those paying tribute was Christine and the Queens, who said Sophie was “a stellar producer, a visionary, a reference. She rebelled against the narrow, normative society by being an absolute triumph, both as an artist and as a woman. I can’t believe she is gone. We need to honour and respect her memory and legacy. Cherish the pioneers.”

Model and activist Munroe Bergdorf said she was “heartbroken”, adding: “Our community has lost an icon, a pioneer and a visionary bright light.” Sam Smith wrote: “The world has lost an angel. A true visionary and icon of our generation. Your light will continue to inspire so many for generations to come.”

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