You know the song. It’s the one with that deliciously catchy guitar riff and lyrics spoken in Portuguese, like a chant. It’s the song you think of when you fantasize about dancing the night away at a balmy beach club in Ibiza. It was the backing track to an Apple Watch commercial and designer Simon Miller’s NYFW Spring 2016 show. Heck, if you could pick the soundtrack to your life, this would probably be it.
But who are the people behind it?
Meet Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, more commonly known as Sofi Tukker. The duo quite literally danced their way into New York a little over a year ago, and have been making magic in the form of dance music ever since. The song I’m talking about is called ‘Drinkee’, and it’s the opening track to their newly released EP, Soft Animals.
I can tell Sophie and Tucker are polar opposites from the moment our Skype call connects. A Boston native, Tucker has bleach-blonde hair and looks like the type of guy you’d expect to find behind a turntable, casually raising the roof. Meanwhile, Sophie exudes a calming sense of wisdom, the type you can only find in an avid yoga-doer who’s lived in at least five different countries to date.
The two met while studying at Brown University, Rhode Island. Sophie was playing in a bossa nova band when Tucker approached her and asked if he could remix her music.
“Her music was beautiful, but painstakingly slow!” Tucker tells me. “When we started, she knew nothing about house music and I knew nothing about Portuguese or acoustic music... and I still don’t,” he says, laughing.
“But that’s not the point,” Sophie chimes in. “The fact we each pursue our different musical interests lifts the band up. And when we hit that sweet spot and meet at that weird place in the middle,” she says, “that place is Sofi Tukker.”
Perhaps that’s the reason Sofi Tukker have hit it off like they have. They don’t sound like every other dance duo out there. Their music has a global feel, it’s like an international language you don’t need to be able to read to understand.
“We just performed at a bunch of festivals in Europe, and Latvia was probably our favourite place to play,” says Tucker.
“Yeah, everyone in Latvia knew the lyrics to our songs!” laughs Sophie. “Which we thought was crazy because geographically, it was the farthest place from New York that we performed. We love that we can perform to an audience anywhere in the world, and it instantly feels like a community.”
I have no doubt that attending a Sofi Tukker show would have you feeling part of the club. They defy the traditional set-up of dance music shows and prefer to spend their time teaching choreography to the crowd, so everyone can ‘move together’. “We want our music to be inclusive,” explains Sophie.
When they’re not playing sold out shows, they’re getting distracted by the energy of New York, dancing from nightclub to nightclub, often to discover the resident DJ remixing one of their songs.
“When that happens, it’s kind of surreal. I just stand back in the corner and watch,” laughs Tucker. I think to myself: ‘Is it going off ? Is it popping? Are people dancing out there?’”
“This one time we were in a restaurant and our song came on, and the people on the table next to us held out their phones and started to Shazam it,” says Sophie. “We were like, ‘is this really happening?’”
It’s happening. And it’s happening fast. Sofi Tukker are constantly working on new stuff, and as they finish each other’s sentences, they assure me they’re not about to rest on their laurels.
“The EP is a good introduction to our brains, but our new stuff is even cooler,” boasts Tucker. “Like, Sophie screams in a track. Sophie’s never screamed before in her life!”
Apparently, if we want to see them play Down Under, we need to let them know. So Spotify their EP and follow them on SoundCloud – we might just get a show.
This interview was originally published in Fashion Journal 160. You can read it here.