What SOPHIE Meant

Thank you for being here. I love you.”

If you’ve seen SOPHIE perform live, you know what it’s like: You’re surrounded by a crush of people, many of whom are wearing some of the most outrageous clothes you’ve ever seen, many of whom are dressed normally, all of whom are there for her. Your feet hurt; you’ve been standing for a few hours. You’re thirsty. You’re a little tired. You don’t know when she’s going to appear, only that she will. But first she’s going to make you wait. She’ll let you get a bit restless. So that when she finally does step onto the stage and take her place behind the hulking DJ deck, a pillar of a woman wrapped in black latex or rose-blush silk, crown of red hair blazing away above you, you will be fully primed for the disorienting joy she is about to unleash.

You are covered in sweat, both your own and everyone else’s, yet the hair on your arms stands up.

Her music is unmistakable. The low rumbling omen of her bass, a chassis upon which the rest operates. Kick drums that boom through your chest and rattle in your mouth. Percussion so warped and cyborgian it doesn’t make sense to classify any given element as a clap” or snare” or hi hat”; you must instead describe what these elements do to you, whether they sting or awaken or lift. Synthesizers that slither and burp like robot ancestors in a primordial hot tub, the auditory imprint of textures–biological, mechanical, who knows–from another dimension. No creature or object in our world could have created such sounds. But when you’re listening to a SOPHIE song you’re not in our world. You’re in her world.

Up on stage, she’s not looking at you. She’s wearing sunglasses, perhaps, or she’s just too occupied with her work. She holds a drink with a tiny straw in one hand, a vape or a cigarette in the other. She blows lofty wisps out over the writhing crowd below. Backlit by strobe lights, you can see nothing of her face but the cut of her cheekbones.

You are not moving so much as you are being moved. By her music, by the people around you, by the feeling that if you stood still you would–like a building with a rigid foundation meeting an earthquake–be destroyed completely. It occurs to you that destruction might be the point: your ears are ringing, and your whole body is being buffeted by other bodies, and if you were thirsty before your throat is now ragged. But somehow this doesn’t feel like destruction. Or at least, if it is destruction, it’s not a kind that is incompatible with living.

She is telling you: Adrift in the trash and plastic of this suffocating planet, with the future looming over you like a curse, you can still create beauty. You can become beauty. You can unmake and remake yourself into whatever shape you choose. You can do so endlessly, over and over until all the boundaries between you and the one you love collapse. You can be the one you love. You already are.

At some point the music stops. The crowd roars with whatever breath they have left. She looks at you, all of you, the veil of aloofness gone, and she smiles. A little shy. Bewilderingly modest. She puts her lips to the microphone. Thank you for being here,” she says. I love you.” And she means it.

Up next Wiggler Check #001 Hope you’re all having a cool and normal Saturday. Here is the first installment of a new post series I’ll be doing (hopefully) every two weeks—a So it turns out Substack sucks Hi. This is the last post I am ever going to write on Substack, barring unforeseen circumstances. Not because I am going to quit writing this
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