© 2021 KALW
KALW Public Media / 91.7 FM Bay Area
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Remembering SOPHIE, Electronic Pop Musician

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

In the song "Immaterial," the electronic pop musician SOPHIE wrote what you might call a mission statement.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IMMATERIAL")

SOPHIE: (Singing) Immaterial, immaterial, immaterial boys, immaterial girls.

CHANG: We're immaterial. Our bodies follow our souls, SOPHIE said. SOPHIE's music was often about the possibilities within ourselves, a point of view informed by being transgender.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Fans who cherished those possibilities are now mourning. SOPHIE died on Saturday at age 34 in Athens, Greece, in an accident while trying to see the full moon.

SASHA GEFFEN: It was through her that I first started thinking about the creation of new sound as accompanying creation of new reality, new material circumstances, new interpersonal potential.

KELLY: That is Sasha Geffen. Geffen has written about SOPHIE's music extensively and says the way SOPHIE captured sounds could feel intensely physical.

GEFFEN: When you're listening, there's this experience of kind of having these objects, like, whirl around the sound field. There's a pair of rubber gloves getting snapped over here, and there's, like, a chain banging into the side of a meat locker over here. I mean, none of this was sampling. It was all synthesis.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOPHIE SONG, "HARD")

CHANG: That is the 2015 song "Hard." That inventive sound creation was once all we knew of SOPHIE, who remained anonymous until 2017.

KELLY: In that obscurity, SOPHIE trickled out track after track. There was SOPHIE's breakout, "BIPP."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIPP")

SOPHIE: (Singing) I can make you feel, I can make you feel.

KELLY: And there was also all the music SOPHIE produced for other artists, like the rapper Vince Staples...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YEAH RIGHT")

VINCE STAPLES: (Rapping) Boy, yeah, right. Yeah, right. Yeah, right.

KELLY: ...Pop artist Charli XCX...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VROOM VROOM")

CHARLI XCX: (Singing) Let's ride.

KELLY: ...And Madonna.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BITCH I'M MADONNA")

MADONNA: (Singing) I just want to have fun tonight.

CHANG: Sasha Geffen says SOPHIE was a futurist, inspired by our fluidity as people, by science fiction and by the otherworldly.

GEFFEN: Something that sticks in my memories - SOPHIE talking about how the movie "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory" made a big impression, I think, when she was a kid, which you can hear in the bubbles, in the way everything's carbonated in SOPHIE's music.

CHANG: The pioneering electronic artist SOPHIE was 34 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.