The Poetry Project

Sophie Remembrance

Conrad Tao

At Brooklyn’s Good Room in 2017, Sophie started her set with “L.O.V.E.,” extending the track’s opening dentist office drill far past its recorded length. Over the venue’s sound system, the ground shook, the heavy bass altering your vision, the sound felt in your gut. I will never forget that room, full of freaks and queers and heads, all of us losing our minds to the furious, noisy buzz.

There’s a minimalism to Sophie’s music. Every gesture is carved out, powerful silence on either side of each bouncing squelch clang drill and squish, the precision a conduit to vast internal landscapes made up of textures of desire and dreaming.

Sophie’s minimalism highlights both the sounds she sculpted — metallic ooze, rave stabs, prickly slime, all in piercing HD — and her deep fealty to the core imperative of dance music: the tunes bump. The music aims to make you move, and on the gorgeous occasions where it is beatless, it aims to move you. It plays you, the listening body, ASMR sonics running up and down your skin. The ecstatic and the brutal intermingle, rubbing up against each other until we hear the lyricism in industrial clatter and the yearning complexity in pop euphoria. Sophie unites the seemingly opposite into a singular expression of wanting to feel together, wanting to realize and share the interior, wanting to let go, “Come on, touch me
Set my spirit free
Oh, test me
Do you feel what I feel?
Do you see what I see?
Oh, reduce me to nothingness
Yes, yes”

For those of us who dream of feeling everything, Sophie’s music offers the possibility of facing reality and finding pleasure

  • out of necessity
  • at the porous boundary between being and losing yourself
  • in the unknown
  • through a magical view.

I was in Dallas in 2013 for the premiere of a new work and I remember listening to "Bipp" on a loop; the Dallas piece wasn’t fully formed, I knew it wasn’t entirely there, you know? I was struggling. Meanwhile, "Bipp" on a loop, over and over again. It was clear I needed to get deeper, to give in, to listen, “you gotta be crazy thinking you can resist this / yes, you know, yeah you know you can’t help yourself,” just dancing up and down the street trying not to think about how stressful rehearsals were, giving into the plasticine beat, so hot and I couldn’t tell you why.

Love love love love love is all I can think of — that love could somehow be cheeky, fucked-up, heart-baring, funny, felt in the bittersweet gaps of our lives, found in our questioning moments, expressed in bursts of collective joy where the possibility of a whole new world might peek through. Sophie’s music was sincere without subscribing to earnestness as an aesthetic. Everyone back in 2013 saying it must have just been a piss-take missed the point, and we knew it. It was love.

Sophie Remembrances