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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at San Francisco chapter.

When we think of pop music, we often think of something that mainstream; tangible and popular. While that is for the most part true; pop, just as with other genres, has radically shifted over the last decade. In 2013, a producer from London named A.G. Cook started a label called PC Music. He had found a few carefully selected artists from places such as SoundCloud, where he himself consistently uploaded numerous mixes and original songs – ones that played around with electronic and surreal takes on pop music, often times having accompanying visuals that had bright colors and textures. It was a mixture of 90’s club hits, but with synths and a lot of bubblegum bass – think EDM, if it was a performance art piece. Those directly working with PC Music often all worked together and would both collectively and individually do what they could to push the boundaries of what they were creating. SOPHIE, one of the founding members, was another artist who truly pioneered and mastered this artform. Constantly experimenting with things such as laser harps and avant-garde producing that meshed soft feminine vocals with brash robotic and electronic beats, she effortlessly took something traditionally “pretty,” and put it against something a bit more unexpected.

A few successful album releases over the years had gained SOPHIE a small but loyal cult following. In 2017, she released a new single from the album that would eventually be known as “Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides.” This was a groundbreaking move, as this was the first time we not only got to see her up close and personal, but also, we got to hear her real voice – not someone else’s vocals, or altered beyond recognition. This was the real SOPHIE. “It’s Okay to Cry”, the first song on the album, was her coming out as a transgender woman for the first time to the world. She had spent years quietly observing and working in the background, being recognizable only through her production – and now, she burst onto the screen before a background of rainbows and galaxies, telling us that we are valid, and we are loved, no matter who you are or what you identify as. Through working with major artists with the likes of Madonna and Vince Staples, SOPHIE’s own message was one of self-acceptance and being authentically yourself, something she also discusses in her track “Immaterial” (a cheeky nod to Madonna’s “Material Girl”).

Eventually, SOPHIE and A.G. Cook had brought on another artist, Charli XCX, to collaborate on some projects – to this day, I would argue that this move catapulted PC Music to the exposure it needed. Charli had at the time, had a few hits on the radio with features on songs like “Fancy” with Iggy Azalea, and “I Love It” with Icona Pop. She also already had a record under her belt with “True Romance,” a solid body of work that could be labeled as “emo pop.” It was raw, edgy, and just what we needed with the Tumblr era at the time. Her label had started to push her to become more mainstream, which resulted in the following album, “Sucker,” which came out around the time that she also had released “Boom Clap” in 2014. This was sonically more of what you would expect to hear on the radio, but still with a bit of a Charli twist – it was 80’s and 90’s inspired rock/pop, glamorizing fame and fortune of being a pop star. In the end, it wasn’t true to Charli and her vision. Coming together with SOPHIE, they transformed her look and her sound through the release of the now cult classic, “Vroom Vroom.” After that, though Charli remained somewhat underground with all the albums that followed, her image and her following grew – this is in part to her countless collaborations, having worked with artists such as Brooke Candy, Kim Petras, Cupcakke, Troye Sivan, Umru, Diplo, Caroline Polachek, Lizzo, 100 Gecs, Rita Ora, Carly Rae Jepsen, Rina Sawayama, Bebe Rexha, to name just a few. Thanks to her, this genre (which was very rarely seen before up until recent years) has become more the norm in the world of pop music, even going as far as sometimes going viral on TikTok – it was called “hyperpop,” a term used to loosely describe the microgenre that used typical base of pop combined with the nostalgia of the 2000’s and the internet culture of that time. The entire PC Music family had successfully managed to bring together many people who had previously not felt like they had a community and place to be a part of. On January 30th, 2021, SOPHIE tragically fell to her death from her rooftop in Greece, trying to get a better view of the full moon. To her loyal fan-base and beyond, she is now forever immortalized as an otherworldly goddess, shining down on us eternally through the moonlight – her energy just as pure and vibrant, just as it was when she was behind the DJ booth – flaming red hair, sunglasses, cigarette and all.

After SOPHIE’s passing, Rolling Stone put out an article titled “SOPHIE’s Gone, and It’s Okay To Cry,” where the author brilliantly describes the atmosphere of her shows being “[a room] full of young pop idealists covered in sweat, glitter, and optimism.” Personally, I could not have said it better myself – I have never experienced this sheer level of love and pure joy at a concert. There is nothing quite like singing, crying, and dancing with those who, as the article states, are on the same wavelength as you. About a month into the pandemic, Charli invited some of her most loyal following to join her via live streams and zoom calls (yours truly included!) to gain an up-close and personal look at what it takes to make an album from scratch – only this time, it would be done completely within the confinements of her home, and it was to be done in about 6 weeks time. We were invited to submit artwork and video footage for videos and album covers, play around with remixes and even help to contribute to some of the lyrics. What followed was a beautiful albeit short moment in time encapsulated in one album (adequately titled “How I’m Feeling Now”), and it is a memory that I will cherish forever. As for hyperpop? True to form, many who are credited with inventing the genre, are now breaking away and rejecting being put in that box, ever-evolving into even further sub-genres such as “digicore,” and I am personally very much looking forward to seeing where it will go next.

Vera Maksymiuk

San Francisco '24

English major who is passionate about poetry, literature, pop culture, art, fashion, music, world news and politics :)