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Who was Sophie Xeon, the Grammy-nominated musician who has died aged 34?

The world mourns iconic pop/dance musician and transgender icon Sophie, who has died after a "sudden accident" in the Greek capital of Athens.

The world mourns iconic pop/dance musician and transgender icon Sophie, who has died after a "sudden accident" in the Greek capital of Athens.
Daniel BoczarskiRedferns

Glasgow-born artist Sophie has died aged 34 after a “sudden accident” in Athens, it has been confirmed. The Grammy-nominated musician was hailed as a pop pioneer and was a transgender icon who spoke extensively about struggles with gender identity.

A statement released by Sophie’s record label Transgressive described the artist as: “a pioneer of a new sound, one of the most influential artists in the last decade. Not only for ingenious production and creativity but also for the message and visibility that was achieved. An icon of liberation.”

Sophie, a musical trailblazer

Sophie Xeon, born 1968, began releasing music in the mid-noughties anonymously and grew into one of the most iconic and influential pop artists of the last decade. The 2013 single Nothing More to Say was the first official release but it was Bipp, released later that year, which first brought recognition outside of native Glasgow.

A series of acclaimed singles were re-released in 2015’s Product, before debut album Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides came out in 2018. The ground-breaking production saw it nominated for best dance/electronic album and garnered almost unanimously positive reviews. The Guardian wrote: “Sophie has crafted a genuinely original sound and uses it to visit extremes of terror, sadness and pleasure.”

Sophie worked with the likes of Madonna, Vince Staples, and Charli XCX and is regarded as a hugely influential figure in both 21st-century pop music and LGBTQ culture. The transgender artist’s musical expression often encapsulated issues surrounding identity, non-conformity and reinvention.

She died aged 34 in Athens, Greece. Official reports state that she slipped while attempted to find a better view of a full moon that was visible from the Greek capitol.

Her label, Transgressive, said of the tragic accident: "True to her spirituality she had climbed up to watch the full moon and slipped and fell… She will always be here with us."

Tributes pour in for Sophie, “a visionary”

During a creative career cut tragically short Sophie left an enormous mark on fellow musicians and the culture as a whole. In the hours following the news fellow musicians and former collaborators paid their respects to a figure who influenced so many.

Chic frontman and musical legend Nile Rodgers described her as “innovative” and “dynamic” in a personal statement, and called her one of the most “warm persons I had the pleasure of working with”.

French pop act Héloïse Letissier, who performs as Christine and the Queens, praised Sophie’s cultural influence and strides made in fields of gender and sexuality. Héloïse described the late musician as “a stellar producer, a visionary, a reference”.

Sophie was awarded the Innovator gong by the Association of Independent Music in 2018 and used it as an opportunity to promote trans rights to an even larger audience.

The producer reemphasised the importance of "creating a more diverse, inspiring and meaningful future for us and the generations whose lives our decisions affect and help shape