Last Saturday on Feb. 1, 2021, the Grammy-nominated artist, DJ, and producer Sophie Zeon, known as SOPHIE, tragically passed away in Athens, Greece. SOPHIE was known by many in the music industry as a visionary, who was in the process of revolutionizing the pop genre with her inventive avant-garde postmodern electronic dance music.
SOPHIE’s cause of death was initially vaguely described as a “sudden accident,” and was later revealed in a statement by her labels Future Classic and Transgressive: “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.” This statement has arisen quite a bit of discussion amongst SOPHIE’s fans, who can’t help but comment on the eerie and mysterious thought of the artist passing so tragically under a full moon.
SOPHIE’s song “Immaterial” from her Grammy-nominated album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides has been getting reposted all over social media, which sings out to the “immaterial girls” and “immaterial boys.” The song seems to have gained an even deeper meaning after SOPHIE’s passing, as almost a reassurance to her fans with the lyrics, “And no matter where I go/ You’ll always be here in my heart.”
At only 34 years of age, SOPHIE already had a lot under her belt. Her Grammy nomination in 2018 for Dance/Electronic Album of the Year seemed to be nearly just the beginning for her. In her interview on the Grammy’s red carpet, she said, “Hopefully this means people will be more aware of what I do and allow me to continue what I’m doing on a broader scale. I am grateful for that opportunity and grateful to be able to represent my fans here, I know it means a lot to them.”
SOPHIE got involved in the music industry at a very young age, growing up in Scotland going to electronic raves and shows with her father, and listening to disco music with her mother. Once she started getting into producing and DJ’ing herself, she actually remained anonymous for several years. She got very popular in the European club scene and began producing for many popular artists such as Madonna, Charli XCX, Kim Petras, Vince Staples and shaped the sound of the PC Music label all while her identity remained a mystery to her fans. She went to some interesting measures to cover her identity for a while, using a voice changing machine for a radio interview and once even having a drag queen “pose” as the DJ for her show while she was disguised as a security guard side stage.
It was in 2017 when SOPHIE released the music video for “It’s Okay to Cry” that she revealed her true identity, finally showing her face and using her own voice in her music. The song focused on being a trans woman and became an amazing statement about owning herself, her identity, and her “transness.” This song and the album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides caused SOPHIE to become a huge inspiration for the trans community. In an interview with PAPER magazine, she stated, “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. On this earth, it's that you can get closer to how you feel your true essence is without the societal pressures of having to fulfill certain traditional roles based on gender.”
It seems to be the consensus that although it seems SOPHIE was just getting started on her journey as an artist, she also had already done so much to revolutionize the music industry. Many artists, fans, and critics have said that SOPHIE brought something entirely new to music, creating an avant-garde pop sound like no other. She has become an icon and influence in the trans community like no other and has paved the way for trans musicians ahead of her to come. Her impact on the music industry and the trans community will not ever be forgotten. SOPHIE was and still is the future of pop music.
In a statement on Instagram, Charli XCX, a long time friend and collaborator of SOPHIE’s, wrote: “It’s really hard for me to sum up the special connection I felt with such an amazing person who completely changed my life. There are so many memories, so many small details, so many different views, and incredible feelings and stories. It’s impossible to summarize the journey I went on with Sophie… I can’t explain how I feel and I can’t encapsulate what a unique person she was.”