Sophie has died. A Scottish artist best known for blurring the lines between underground dance music, electronic, and a sort of hyper-kinetic mutation on the structures of pop, Sophie’s music—including a single studio album, 2018's Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides—re-shaped the landscape of dance music over the last decade, pushing genre to its limits in order to innovate new ways to reach (and sometimes challenge) audiences. Sophie died in an accident early this morning in Greece, according to a Tweet released by label Future Classic. The artist (who, according to a statement released by a representative to Pitchfork this morning, preferred not to use gendered or nonbinary pronouns) was 34.
Initially a mysterious figure in the world of dance music, Sophie came to prominence in the early 2010s, releasing singles like “Bipp” and “Lemonade,” and catching critics’ attentions with a playful, abrasive style that built compelling pop hooks out of electronic chirps and sound effects. (These singles were later compiled into the 8-song Product.) Among other things, this sudden rise in attention kicked off a career as a producer and writer, with Sophie working behind the scenes over the years with artists like Vince Staples, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and especially Charli XCX, pushing their music into more adventurous and experimental phases. Sophie’s own vocals didn’t appear on a track until 2017, with the release of “It’s Okay To Cry”—the video of which also showed Sophie’s face to the public for the first time.
2018 saw the release of Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Inside, a critically acclaimed thesis statement for the Sophie ethos: Pop music built from un-poppy sounds, creating an end product that allowed discomfort and joy to build in the listener in equal parts. Hailed by critics (we named it one of the best pop albums of 2018), Oil earned Sophie a Grammy nomination, for Best Dance/Electronic album. It also only built anticipation for whatever one of pop music’s most inventive artists was going to create next; an anticipation that will now, tragically, go unfulfilled.
Sophie’s death was reported earlier this morning.