SOPHIE, a loose associate of the PC music crew and producer for pop stars like Charli XCX and Madonna, has been secretive since their 2013 debut. Single covers/profile pictures featured bizarre plastic playground equipment. Early DJ sets were performed by a drag queen stand in. Interviews were mostly done via email, and SOPHIE conducted a rare BBC Radio 1 interview with the help of a voice changer. Faced with a lack of information and based on a couple sightings, critics presumed Sophie was male. Now she’s returned from a 2-year hiatus and thrown the curtain back with the first music video.
Alone the song “It’s Okay to Cry” is somewhat forgettable, but the video is transfixing. “Just know you’ve got nothing to hide” SOPHIE sings in front of a shifting cloudscape. She sparkles with charisma, a minor surprise given how camera shy she’s been. The gag is during the second chorus where she coyly flashes her nipple bearing the telltale signs hormone therapy-induced growth, shattering everyone’s concept of her as a cis male hiding behind a female persona. The coming out moment (whether as a transgender woman or simply a gender non-conforming person is still unclear) was cemented by the video’s press release featuring the pronoun ‘she’ sprinkled throughout. The same day, SOPHIE went on record for Interview saying “All I’ve ever wanted to be seen as or referred to as is SOPHIE, and I stand by that in the same way.”
This canny reveal is a long time in the making. Sophie has been presenting as feminine during live performances and photos with Charli XCX. Even before these appearances, fans have suspected something was up. Past articles critiquing the assumed idea that SOPHIE was “colonizing womanhood” by were met with people pointing out that the producer has never claimed to be a man at all (regardless, it doesn’t make the feminity of Sophie’s music any less disruptive to the dudebro EDM world even if a cis male is behind it).
can I point out that I don't think sophie has ever publicly disclosed a gender identity http://t.co/zhvsv9YyzW
— some gravesites (@sashageffen) December 31, 2014
SOPHIE’s willingness to bare it all for the video is reflected in the song as well. Her voice, while still processed, is in it’s natural pitch. It’s a departure from the chipmunk squeals in early SOPHIE songs. Fellow electronic artist Macy Rodman (a trans woman) describes a similar trajectory, manipulating her voice into more traditional “feminine” sound on her first ep HELP before exploring her voice’s natural timbre on her album The Lake. SOPHIE has done similar ballads with her past song “Never Said Goodbye” but this new song doesn’t even try to be a banger, focusing instead on the catharsis of a good by drawing out the twinkly ballad for over 3 minutes before finally erupting. By that time she’s bearing her breasts and lipsyncing her heart out in a purple-tinged thunderstorm. As the song ends she seductively licks her finger and puckers her lips for the camera. All the music industry drama aside, the video stands on it’s own as a masterstroke. It’s thrilling to watch someone public flaunt themselves after staying secluded for so long. I can’t wait to see what else SOPHIE has in store.
Watch “It’s Ok to Cry” by SOPHIE above and purchase tickets for her live Los Angeles debut.