At the end of January the world was dealt a shocking blow as the news broke of SOPHIE’s tragic passing. An icon, a visionary, an innovator, had been taken too soon.
It’s difficult to explain the impact that the Glasgow-born producer and musician had on music. Her singular take on pop, which saw her morph electronic music into something completely fresh and unheard of, pushed boundaries like never before. From her early Huntleys and Palmers and Numbers releases and the innovative sonics of ‘Lemonade’, to acclaimed outings on Tim Dellow and Toby Langley’s Transgressive Records, SOPHIE left an indelible mark on the world of pop music: what she created could never be replicated.
Not only that, her visibility as a trans woman within the mainstream music industry shattered preconceptions and gave others the confidence to truly be themselves. This is true for Cape Town-based producer and DJ River Moon. Thanks to SOPHIE’s influence, the self-proclaimed ‘Rave Princess’ found the courage to take the leap into a music industry that’s historically devalued trans people and their contributions.
We invited River to share how SOPHIE helped shape them as a person and a producer on what would have been her 35th birthday. Alongside an interview, they pay homage to her impact with a mix of their favourite SOPHIE productions and tracks inspired by her idiosyncratic sound.
Why does SOPHIE mean so much to you?
SOPHIE was part of the legion of trans woman and transfeminine artists that made me feel brave enough to step into an industry that doesn’t value us at all. Seeing a trans woman be this influential, not only in her own world of electronic music, but also in the mainstream… that pushes me.
what made a SOPHIE record so unique?
She did something no one else could do. There was so much emotion in the mechanical and hyperreal sounds of her music. We always joke and call her style of music “pots and pans” but she really pioneered that and started it. And what set her apart from everyone else who followed after her was the emotion. Every sound, every drum hit, every synth, everything had feeling to it. It didn’t feel calculated or mechanical.
When did you first hear SOPHIE’s music and what impact did it have on you?
I think the Mcdonalds commercial was the first but I didn’t know who the artist was. The first SOPHIE song I heard was ‘hey qt by qt’. I rinsed that shit the year it came out. The music video was nuts. The fake soda commercial? Genius. I found it so fab at the time but I didn’t really connect until ‘Oil of Every Pearls Unside’ came out. As soon as I heard ‘Its Okay to Cry’ I was in love. I knew this bitch was special. And ‘Ponyboy’ coming right after that!!! It’s like she was like okay bitch stop crying it’s time to pop some pussy.
What’s your most sacred SOPHIE record and why?
‘Immaterial’. Before SOPHIE’s death that song was an affirmation for me and one of the few songs that would always put me in the best mood. I can be anything I want. After her death it took me forever to listen to it again. I remember the day she died I played the album and it was ‘Immaterial’ I had to skip because it was making me more sad than happy. I ended this set with that song because of how much it still means to me.
Any standout memories from dropping a sophie track in a set?
I dropped ‘Not Okay Alone’ mix in a set on halloween 2019 and the club went nuts.
How did you approach this mix? what did you want it to say about SOPHIE and her music?
Just my favorite SOPHIE, SOPHIE-influenced and some of my favorite songs at the moment in one. I have some exclusive blends in there too.
What would you say is SOPHIE’s biggest legacy on music?
Changing the face and sound of pop music forever.