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Virtuoso

Who is SOPHIE?

Known as the producer behind famous names such as Charli XCX and Madonna, musician SOPHIE has used 2018 as the year to reinvent herself. Melchi Anyinsah-Bondzie discusses how SOPHIE is now a musical force to be reckoned with, and her growing importance within marginalised cultures

SOPHIE performing at Elsewhere in February 2018 (Image: Cmjamesphoto [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons)

SOPHIE Xeon, or simply SOPHIE, is the musical medicine you need in your life. Her music is bold, poppy, culturally relevant and just fricking fun. If you really feel the need to put her sound into a box, it could be well described as a cross between pop and electronica. Yet it is so much more.

SOPHIE is special in more ways than one. Not only is she a super producer, but she is also a transwoman.

I was first introduced to SOPHIE while living in Paris. I had gotten into a nasty accident and was bedbound for a few weeks, so YouTube became my good-good sister. I don’t often check the suggested videos, but I saw a very pink thumbnail – I like pretty things. It was a music video for an infectiously cute song called Hey QT and all I saw in the comments was the name SOPHIE and something called PC Music.

“Imagine The Sims, IMVU, and SecondLife hooked up for a robotic threesome – that’s PC Music at the surface”

From that video, to another and then another – I was sold. I became a fan and dedicated the next to few days to listening to a genre called PC Music, spearheaded by a London based collective of the same name. The genre is hard to describe, to listen to it is to semi-understand. It’s immersive, it’s as visual as it is audible. Imagine The Sims, IMVU and SecondLife hooked up for a robotic threesome – that’s PC Music at the surface.

Glasgow-born producer SOPHIE is certainly not new to the industry. She’s worked with many artists who are signed to the PC Music label such as Hannah Diamond and GFOTY as well its head honchos Danny L Harle and A. G. Cook. Since then, she’s moved on to wider horizons working with the likes of Madonna, Charlie XCX, Vince Staples and has even been rumoured to be working with Rihanna and Lady Gaga.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BkRB-inlmEA/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

In June 2018, SOPHIE released her debut studio album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides. It’s an album that really takes you on a journey, it’s the kind of album where you can slap on a pair of headphones, turn off the lights, close your eyes and let yourself be transported. From the melodic whisperings of It’s Okay to Cry to the heavy bass BDSM nuances of Ponyboy to the euphoric musings of Is It Cold in the Water?, it’s an album that’s different in its approach, yet somehow very current and mainstream. The track Immaterial is somewhat of a ‘coming-out’ song, a track that celebrates our differences it’s both joyous in its sound and lyrics. 

“It’s the kind of album where you can slap on a pair of headphones, turn off the lights, and let yourself be transported”

Since her debut album, she’s performed all over the world presenting shows filled with latex, sex, live singing and dancing.

This SOPHIE is a far cry from the DJ/Producer who was hardly seen in-front of the decks. SOPHIE in 2018 is visible, unapologetically holding up a huge middle-finger to the normalcies of a very white, male cis-hetero saturated genre.

SOPHIE’s first ever TV interview took place in October 2018

In a sense, SOPHIE and those like her are bringing in a new age of electronic music. An age that belongs to the original pioneers of electronic music – queer and trans people, who were mainly black and latin. SOPHIE is not a woman of colour, but she is one of those who represent a largely marginalised community.

Transwomen have been and continue to be subjected to ridicule in the mainstream, while everyday transwomen are continually murdered with very little to no justice. This year, over 20 transwomen of colour were killed, and those were only some of the cases that were reported.

Alongside women like American actress Laverne Cox and British activist Munroe Bergdorf, SOPHIE is also living her best life. She’s showing the world who she is and having a great time doing so. And, with a much-deserved Grammy nomination under her belt, SOPHIE is one reason why our trans sisters are winning.

Featured image credit: SOPHIE by Charlotte Wales


Melchi Anyinsah-Bondzie