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It’s hard to overstate SOPHIE’s influence on 21st-century pop. Pioneer, visionary, and an icon in music and beyond, the DJ, producer, and artist was as lauded by pop’s underground as its most mainstream artists—and the Glaswegian’s touch can be felt on almost everything in between. This is music that, somehow, channelled both the avant garde and a kind of blistering directness. Right from the start of the early 2010s, when SOPHIE emerged as a mystery-shrouded affiliate of experimental pop label PC Music, songs resisted musical boundaries. Rushing, hyperkinetic moments of ecstasy (“Immaterial”), glinting, metallic percussion (“Hard”), syncopated soda-bubble trap (“Lemonade”); whether through alien, synthesized effects or distorted snatches of robotic vocal, this former art school student brought a sculptor’s sensibility to candy-painted pop. But that didn’t mean subtlety and traditional musicianship weren’t present. 2018’s debut album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides broadened the scope, hurtling from the whispered torch song theatrics of “It’s Okay To Cry” to the smashed-glass, R&B gear-switches that give “Faceshopping” its urgent, convulsive energy. SOPHIE died January 30, 2021, at age 34.

Glasgow, Scotland
September 17, 1985

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