On Jan. 30, 34-year-old Grammy-nominated electronic-pop artist and producer SOPHIE died in a tragic fall while trying to get a view of the full moon in Athens, Greece, CNN reported.
I was in denial when I first heard the news of her passing. I didn’t want it to be real.
SOPHIE truly broke down barriers in the electronic/dance-pop genre by being a beautiful, openly transgender woman and a prominent transgender rights activist. Her album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, which I listened to while writing this piece, was such an artistic masterpiece that it earned her a Grammy nomination for best dance or electronic album at the 61st annual Grammy Awards.
Although electronic is not my preferred genre, I can distinctly remember the first time I heard her album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides in August 2018.
I was on my way home from school and desperately needed music to drown out the noise of the people on the bus. As I struggled to find something to listen to, “Faceshopping” was the next song on my randomized Pandora feed.
At first, I was hesitant because it was not something I would typically listen to, but as it played, the song began to grow on me. Eventually, it was my go-to “walking home song.” There was something about hearing the lyrics “my face is the front of shop” that gave me an extra burst of confidence on my walk home. Thanks to SOPHIE, nothing made me happier than moving forward to the rhythm of the music, basking in the Atlanta sun.
I never tried exploring different genres of music outside of whatever my mom played in the car before that fateful day because I didn’t know where to start. SOPHIE gave me the nudge I needed not only to listen to hyper-pop but to face my problems head on.
At the same time, in 2018, I was coming to terms with my father’s death while also doing my best to navigate high school. I felt alone and useless. It was as if I didn’t belong anywhere.
My need for constant validation of my self worth from my school, family and peers put me into a dark and depressive state, and it felt like I couldn’t go anywhere but further down the rabbit hole.
SOPHIE’s album helped me block out the excruciating background noise in my life, not only from people on the bus, but also from my inner thoughts coming to the forefront. The music became something I would actively search for when I felt myself slipping away and losing my sense of reality.
When I had nowhere left to turn, I listened to SOPHIE as a coping mechanism and a form of therapy.
The song “It’s Okay to Cry” reminded me it’s more than okay to cry. I had an emotional break at the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, but SOPHIE became my saving grace while I tried to piece myself back together.
I originally gravitated toward SOPHIE because of her relationship with her father and how she spoke about him in interviews. In an interview with Lenny Letter, a weekly feminist newsletter, in 2018, she said her father was the one who introduced her to dance music. She credited him and his instincts for her first project. I envied their relationship because it was something I wished to have with my own father, something he could have introduced me to that would have shaped how I am today.
But I do credit him for my stubbornness and reluctance to back down from anyone or anything. SOPHIE allowed me to reflect on my relationship with my father and discover that he taught me to be headstrong and perseverant.
Rest in peace to the artist who helped me walk home confidently from the bus stop after a hard day at school and to the woman who helped me through the death of my father.
Rest in power, SOPHIE.