by Aidan McGinty / Staff Reporter
On Jan. 30, a representative confirmed that futurist producer and Grammy nominee SOPHIE had died after a tragic accident in Athens, Greece. SOPHIE was known for her work with artists such as Vince Staples, Charli XCX, and Shygirl, as well as her many hit solo tracks like “Vyzee,” “Faceshopping” and “Ponyboy.” Aside from her music, she was considered an outspoken transgender woman and voice for transgender liberation.
Colleagues from around the world took to the internet to express their sadness. Vince Staples (@vincestaples), who worked with SOPHIE on his second studio album, reflected on his memories of her, tweeting: “Sophie was different you ain’t never seen somebody in the studio smoking a cigarette in a leather bubble jacket just making beats not saying one word.” Producer Jack Antonoff (@jackantonoff) tweeted about the huge impact that SOPHIE’s music has made. “The loss of Sophie is huge. She’s been at the forefront for a long time and we see her influence in every corner of music,” and “it is rare that we get to live at the same time as an artist so truly singular. if it’s the actual sound of her work which is the definition of new, or the feeling behind it … it was legendary during her life and will continue to be after.”
SOPHIE’s fans were also quick to turn to social media to express their sadness, causing her to be a trending topic on twitter for the entirety of Jan. 30.
“What initially drew me to become a fan was the unique sounds she created, I feel like I can actually feel the different sounds and textures when I listen to her music,” said Andrew Roth, 23-year-old Roosevelt alumna and SOPHIE enthusiast. “This was the first celebrity death that really rocked me, and it was hard. This person that meant so much to me and influenced the way I think about life is gone, and it took me a few days to not be thinking about her all day.”
To many people within the LGBTQ+ spectrum, the loss of such a prominent icon leaves a lasting mark. Sophomore sociology major Lillian Davis describes her experience with SOPHIE’s music as someone who is LGBTQ+: “SOPHIE is a queer icon, I don’t think straight people know who she is, and if they do they don’t usually listen to her music.”
Roosevelt professor of women and gender studies Marjorie Jolles described the importance of LGBTQ+ people in the limelight. “When a person who represents an identity that has been historically maligned, oppressed, or deformed in the public imagination becomes a celebrity, that can be deeply powerful and meaningful to those who share that identity.”
SOPHIE was a large presence in the transgender community – she was quoted in an interview with Paper magazine: “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.”
Professor Jolles described the importance of celebrities in self-acceptance. “Celebrities have the power to move their fans, emotionally. So if a celebrity exudes joy and pride and humanity in their queerness, that can move their fans to share and mirror similar feelings.”
Davis encouraged all SOPHIE fans to keep listening. “I think in later years people will realize she was before her time. Her fans should be proud of the treasure they found and keep dancing.”