Sophie Performs Surreal Plastic Surgery in a New Video for "Faceshopping"
We talked to the musician about her new song, and she told us that pop music can change the world!
Still from Faceshopping.
In her new video, pop musician Sophie is melting. A 3D rendering of her face balloons, as if inflated by a gust of air, then sags; it is sliced into cross-sections; becomes top-heavy and twists into a Photobooth-filter whorl. The song’s heavy techno beat, airy vocals, and surreal imagery build a world that’s alien and immediately catchy, a combination Sophie is particularly good at pulling off. It’s brightly sinister: strobe lights give a dissociative sense to collaged images of tubes of makeup, squids, the word “Real” rendered in Coca Cola’s font, and skin dewy with drops of water. She pops the final “p” in “shop” like bubblegum, and the grinding beat sounds like the machinery of a medical lab passed through a synth.
“The song evolved from various things I was thinking around the ways that images are used in the current climate, both for good and bad, and intersecting with gender and beauty ideals,” Sophie said in a phone interview on Thursday. “I was thinking about flesh, gloopy balls of flesh, and so that’s related to plastic surgery as well and silicone implants…. I wanted to create those feelings of flesh as something impersonal, a material to be played with like anything else. And it’s up to you where your soul or spiritual being intersects with that flesh.”
There are references to plastic surgery, but the video makes some non-cosmetic edits: Sophie’s digital facsimile first appears with glossy, bee-stung lips, her eyes wide; but soon, it warps, inflates, splits, passing through impossible states of matter in quick succession. At one point, it slumps into the rough shape of a blobfish and scuttles into the corner of the frame. “Materials like that always fascinated me: the melting of plastics, and changing states in any form,” Sophie said, mentioning polymorph plastic as a favorite. “Ultimately, it’s about fantasy and imagination, I suppose. A lot of children’s stories about magic are about fantasizing…. Being able to simulate those things in software and in the physical word is quite empowering and quite magical.”
“I wholeheartedly believe in the power and potential of pop music to change the world.”
The song blends beauty anthem, body horror, and the dissociative rhythm of a brainwashing video; faces are commodities, screens, sites of power. “I think that music allows you to do something more nuanced and contradictory than language does. I certainly feel that way in life,” the musician said. “Some days you want to show yourself, and other days, you don’t.”
For Sophie, who has a background as a producer in the PC Music scene, pop is a useful vehicle to express these contradictions: “It’s basically boundaryless, it can be anything at all.” She added that the genre’s wide appeal is a benefit. “Pop music is the least elitist form of music to be making. it’s not shrouded in pretension like a lot of underground musics are. And I find that the kind of people who listen to it—young audiences, teenagers, and even younger children—that are interacting with it are the most important audience to be communicating with.”
“I’m working towards creating a type of music that can satisfy all of the things I want to achieve: challenging things and presenting different perspectives in a way that is playing with the music industry at large,” she said. “I wholeheartedly believe in the power and potential of pop music to change the world.”