With the devastating death of SOPHIE, a DJ and producer who managed to change the face of both pop and electronic music, Mark Davis contributes 10 essential SOPHIE tracks, demonstrating her varied range of production.
SOPHIE was an artist that meant so much to both the mainstream and underground electronic music scenes and a lot to her fans personally, including myself. Her devastating death last Saturday in Athens saw an outcry from the music world, with tributes to her from a diverse range of artists from Rihanna to Charli XCX to Shygirl, Nina Kraviz and Skream, whom she all worked with closely in her career. Today, I am going to list some essential SOPHIE tracks from the iconic producer’s career, I have compiled this list to honour her musical legacy and to show readers her dynamic range of production from the pop world to remixes to releases on well known underground labels and of some of her more personal solo work.
Analemma – Plunging Asymptote (2019)
To start us off, this one comes from an alias of SOPHIE’s called ‘Analemma’. Analemma was a duo formed consisting of SOPHIE and American DJ and Producer Juliana Huxtable for the ‘locus error ‘compilation on Nina Kraviz’s Trip label. In terms of SOPHIE’s overall production, this demonstrated a much more underground sound to some of her previous works. Plunging Asympotote provided us with an early trance inspired banger unusual for SOPHIE but still with her distinct sound which is instantly recognisable. When this one came out it really fascinated me with the fact that SOPHIE could seamlessly blend between scenes going as far as working with Pop icons like Madonna to casually releasing on a compilation with underground techno heavyweights such as PTU, Nina Kraviz and Ryan James Ford, who also featured on the album.
Lunice – Drop Down ft Le1f & SOPHIE (2017)
This one I feel is an underrated collaboration with Canadian Producer Lunice and American Rapper Le1f. This track shows a side to SOPHIE’s music that can extend to even Hip Hop production, the collaboration with Lunice, a producer who gained a stellar reputation in Hip Hop production comes together perfectly with SOPHIE and provides us with a banger also reminiscent of US Dance Music Genres such as Jersey Club Music and Footwork.
Sonikku ft Liz – Sweat (SOPHIE Remix) (2020)
SOPHIE was highly renowned for her remixes. This track was originally a mellow dance-pop track from UK House Music Producer Sonikku with US Pop Star Liz in anticipation of his debut album ‘Joyful Death’. SOPHIE totally transforms this track into an electro house banger with vocal samples from John Tejada’s classic track ‘Sweat (On the Walls)’ and fulfils a dream of Sonikku’s to work with an idol of his.
Charli XCX – Vroom Vroom (SOPHIE produced) (2016)
Some have said that pop music has never been the same since Charli XCX and SOPHIE dropped Vroom Vroom. The world was not ready for this collaboration which took Pop into the 21st Century, without SOPHIE it is unknown if Charli XCX would have ever completely flipped her career from a mainstream pop girl to an underground pop superstar. This one and ongoing Charli XCX releases since have not seen huge mainstream chart successes as her productions seem to be too forward thinking and experimental for the mainstream as she exclusively collaborates with forward thinking experimental producers such as Danny L Harle and A.G. Cook. The new Charli XCX sound is all down to SOPHIE and her introduction to experimental music and London based label PC Music.
SFire – SFire6 (2016)
This one is a collab between Detroit’s Jeffrey SFire and SOPHIE. Jeffrey, a well known Italio and Chicago House DJ released this production in 2016. This is one of her lesser known works, also showing her dynamic range of sounds she could infiltrate as a producer with a dance floor ready banger which brings a nostalgic era of dance music listeners, many of which haven’t even experienced.
SOPHIE – Ponyboy (2017)
Ponyboy is a single from SOPHIE’s debut album ‘Oil of Every Pearls Un-Insides’, which actually means “I love every persons insides” when said in SOPHIE’s Glasgow accent. Ponyboy goes extremely hard as a Pop track with both the pulsating aggressive beats and suggestive lyrics. It’s release was accompanied with a video of SOPHIE on a strobe lit stage with the perfect choreography for the track, she also provided us with an iconic moment of her inhaling her JUUL and then stomping it out as if it were a cigarette, a perfect display of her witty humour.
SOPHIE – Push Emission (Whore Moans) (2019)
I could not have compiled this list together without including a track from SOPHIE’s remix album of her debut album “Oil Of Every Pearls Un-Insides”. Her remix album transformed the album’s experimental pop tracks into captivating techno and house tracks. ‘Push Emission (Whore Moans)’ gives us a hypnotic experimental acid techno banger with samples taken from Ponyboy to produce rave ready euphoria.
SOPHIE – BIPP (2013)
BIPP is a timeless classic from SOPHIE. This one really took everything off for her, originally released as a single on Jackmaster’s Glasgow based label ‘Numbers’, and then later as part of her debut LP ‘Product’, it featured high pitched vocals and a bubbly pop baseline that no one could quite categorise at the time. This was the first time SOPHIE really played with themes of identity too, as no one could quite figure out who the anonymous DJ and Producer was and speculation was rife online. This track also recently got a re-release on Numbers literally just two weeks ago but with the remix treatment from English Electronic Duo Autechre, the only artists that SOPHIE wanted to remix her music and a B Side of a previously unreleased track ‘Unisil’.
SOPHIE – Nothing More To Say (2013)
Nothing more to say was SOPHIE’s debut release on Glasgow based Label ‘Huntleys & Palmers’ back in 2013 and it kicked off a huge career and legacy with her early distinct disco house sound that we would see again and again in many future productions. Nothing More To Say was released with another track called EEEHHH and features classic energetic house vocal chops. The track later got a Jackmaster Dub on his ‘Numbers’ too, kicking off her string of releases on the fellow Glaswegians label.
SOPHIE – Its Okay to Cry (2013)
Finally, I wouldn’t be able to finish this up without paying homage to ‘Its Okay To Cry’. This track was the first single from her debut album and featured SOPHIE’s own vocals and debuted with a music video in 2017, she fearlessly presented herself as a Trans Woman after years of being a somewhat anonymous producer who’s identity was the question of many. This “coming out” to the world then lead to a string of live performances from SOPHIE following her debut album release where she was proud to be owning the stage in a stark contract to her previous performances shyly behind the decks, DJing with a sheet covering the stage or hiring performance artists to pretend to DJ for her while she was controlling the music backstage, as was the case in her 2014 Boiler Room Set. The video features herself topless singing her track to the world against a backdrop of cloudy blue skies. The symbolism from this performance and the lyrics themselves inspired a whole generation of people interested in Pop and Electronic Music to be themselves no matter what their identity was and to own their craft. The music video is an emotional watch now and serves as a perfect memory to the producer.
The death of SOPHIE has devastated many but the impact she had on the both the mainstream and underground music industries will never be forgotten. As a Trans Woman, she inspired so many people of LGBTQ+ identities to be themselves and not fear pursuing music. Her recent collaborations included a release with Jimmy Edgar, Arca, and remixes for Babynymph & Bayli and for Abyss X too. In July 2020 she streamed a AV Liveset for Heav3n, a queer LA based collective and it consisted of 100% unreleased material, this one is a hard watch now as the music is so beautifully produced alongside the visuals.
Lastly, it is amazing to see so many tributes payed to her from many within the music industry including huge celebrities. Despite this, I think it important to bring some notice to her partner, Evita Manji who she was hoping to spend the rest of her life with. Evita is a hard dance DJ and Producer and recently released a stellar debut EP and a recent mix for the Boiler Room Hard Dance Mix Series.
Lastly, I just want to say Rest in Peace to SOPHIE. Thank you for inspiring me and many others to really get deep into Electronic Music and thank you for changing lives with your music. You will be truly missed.