Points of view

Sophie: music for octopuses

07.02.2019 | By PAOLO BOCCHI

“Sophie is the new voice from Los Angeles. Sophie is a producer, singer and deejay.
Sophie is something utterly new. To approach Sophie’s art, a human brain is not enough: it takes an octopus one. My word as a cephalopod.”

Sophie is a door wide open into the upcoming future.
The tunes, rhythms and scenarios that shape up before you as you start to listen
come from an elsewhere that Sophie has been exploring and setting into music since ever;
an elsewhere that she knows, but we don’t, as – to us – it’s still “the future yet to come”.
When Sophie thinks of a piano tune she wants to include in a track,
she thinks of a piano played on the Moon, in zero gravity. When Sophie decides to set a rhythm, she does it with a “3001: A Space Odyssey” version of Autechre in mind. When Sophie sings, she mesmerizes.
To listen to her music, dance to her beats, watch her videos
and attend her live shows, it takes – without doubt – an octopus brain.

 

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“The expansion of a family of genes that regulate the short-distance interaction between neurons has shaped the development of the octopus’s nervous system, giving this cephalopod an unparalleled intelligence among invertebrates” 

Sophie, born Samuel Long on September 17, 1986, in Glasgow, Scotland, is a music producer, singer and deejay. She has produced songs for Madonna, Charli XCX, Vince Staples
and Kendrick Lamar. About her identity as a trans woman, she likes to say that it would have never been possible without the collapse of the traditional family model and the related control structures. Sophie says that she loves her anatomy as comprised of both male and female body parts. Her pop music is “pop, futured”.

“The octopus is a unique animal, as its physiology and behavior are – in many aspects – more closely related to those of the vertebrates than to those of the other invertebrates. What impresses the most is the complexity of its brain, which makes the octopus the most intelligent genus among the invertebrates, with highly advanced problem solving and learning abilities”

 

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Sophie’s newly released record is titled “Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides”. Listening to it requires uncanny abilities. Sophie says she is inspired by myths like Madonna, Bowie and Prince. The result, however, is way more complex and itching than the works of such famous influencers.

Overall, Sophie’s music is definitely not an easy listen. In her video Ponyboy we get a glimpse of that: tough rhythms, sirens, a taste of Berlin asphalt in the 80s, three girls dancing on their knees, multiple moans, sexy afterparty poses. The one that should be watched next is Faceshopping, probably Sophie’s most disturbing and successful clip and track so far. The must-see video triad is complete with It’s ok to Cry, the first clip where Sophie chose to show her face and body with no filters, ever. A video and track that looks and sounds romantically delicate; a caress.

“Essentially, the octopus has a normal invertebrate genome that has just been totally rearranged, as if its genes had been put into a blender and mixed. This points to genes being placed in new genomic environments with distinct regulatory elements”

Sophie now lives in Los Angeles. Time after time, she lights up the valleys of the City of Angels with freestyle DJ sets, which she uses to test out pieces for future live sets. The nights of California’s Angels are often blasted by the abrupt sounds of Sophie’s “songs-in-process”: tough rhythms, savage use of synths, maximum volume, voices now alarmed, now magically in love. Various figures are known to hang around her: David LaChapelle, Pee Girl, Eric Wrenn, Jay-Z: today and day-after-tomorrow blend together, not only in terms of music, in L.A.

“Although mammals and birds are widely regarded as the smartest creatures on earth, it has lately become clear that a very distant branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus” – Peter Godfrey-Smith