Actively touring the world for the past several years, SOFI TUKKER has earned a solid reputation as one of the most innovative and popular acts in modern dance music. Composed of Tucker Halpern and Sophie Hawley-Weld, in just a few short years the duo already earned two Grammy nominations, one for their debut single "Drinkee" and the other for their album Treehouse. Best known for their incredibly energetic live sets, eclectic musical style, and vibrant costumes, the duo has attained Gold or Platinum status on every continent except Antarctica and performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
I recently had the chance to catch up with the duo at a private event for KCRW in Santa Monica, CA on the night before the release of their latest EP DANCING ON THE PEOPLE (out now on Ultra Records). A collection of songs in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, the EP expands the ingenious duo's global and inclusive vision of dance music. Full of adventurous ideas and exuberant joy, DANCING ON THE PEOPLE is the perfect fusion of robust flavors, groovy beats, and catchy lyrics. Read this interview to learn more about SOFI TUKKER as they talk plans for their R.I.P. Shame World Tour, spirituality, influences, and more.
SB: So you guys have been on a tremendous climb to the top over the last two years with Grammy nominations and working with the likes of Benny Benassi and Nervo. What has this experience been like for you?
Sophie: It’s been really fun. We’ve gotten to wake up and make music every day, connect with people, and make friends.
Tucker: I wish every day (laughs).
Sophie: Most days I mean - it’s the best. Obviously we have a lot of other things we get to do. We love what we do. We love life. We’re really grateful we get to do it. It’s been a dream.
Tucker: I totally agree. We love what we do and feel really lucky to be doing it. Music has connected us with people I was fans of when I was way too young to get into a club - it's been wild. It’s been great.
SB: So as two students at Brown, did you imagine it’d ever be like this?
Sophie: Definitely not. I didn’t know what life would look like and I didn’t have a clear career path. Tucker convinced me to move to New York my last week of college and I was like "actually I’m moving back to Brazil" and he ended up convincing me. I moved to New York and started making things happen. No way to predict this. It’s the best though. Sorry, that was very circuitous.
Tucker: I was thinking I was going to be playing basketball, hopefully, the NBA but likely in Europe. It’s like going to school all the time. Not only do we get to make music and perform and hone in on those skills but we get to become better public speakers and better socially and become CEOs of a business we’re trying to grow. It’s like having a start-up in a way. It’s like we’re getting to go to school in such a unique way. It’s like we’re getting the best education ever. That’s how I feel.
SB: Throughout the past few years, you’ve had the chance to collaborate with some amazing artists such as Benny Benassi and Nervo. Do you have any good stories to tell?
Sophie: Ooh. So we just collaborated with Bomba Estéreo (featured on DANCING ON THE PEOPLE) which is one of our favorite bands ever and we flew to Colombia to Costeño Beach to film the music video and we ended up getting to spend a week with them getting to spend quality time together. That experience was life-changing.
Tucker: That was a highlight of life.
Sophie: It was so special. Li from Bomba Estéreo lives in the middle of the jungle. She really lives it. Every single part of her life is just… We were greeted with fresh coconuts from the trees. She was wearing a long colorful dress and she gives each a long colorful just to put on just to fit into the environment and then we ride horses on the beach and Li and I do a couples massage. And we’re naked in the jungle. It doesn’t get much better than that. It felt so life. I don’t know if there’s a better way to say it than that. It was just perfect. It’s exactly who we would want them to be and it’s exactly who they are.
SB: Are there any artists you’ve worked with who have helped influence you as an artist?
Tucker: I think everyone we’ve worked, all of the artists we work with have influenced us. Not necessarily musically but when we first became friends with Nervo. At first, we had a weird relationship with social media with Facebook and Instagram. We wanted to be a band. We didn’t realize we also had to be professional Instagramers.
We got to know Nervo and the way they use social media to really let their fans in and really get to know them and fall in love with them separate from their music was kind of inspiring to us. I think things that separate from music effect and inspire us also. I think that was an interesting example.
Take Benny Benassi who you also mentioned, nicest guy in the history of the world and that is such a good lesson for us. To see someone who’s had thirty years of huge success and notoriety be the nicest guy in the room every single time is just inspiring and a lesson. I think even separate from music we always learn so much from people and then we’re always picking up stuff musically especially with how much we travel, especially with different cultures, dancing, and ways people play instruments. I think everything inspires us musically.
SB: In the past, you have referred to producing music as a spiritual experience, what does spirituality mean to you in your life?
Sophie: I feel like my answer to that is always changing. For me, spirituality has to do with the part of life that is the magic. To me, music is the most spiritual art form and travel is the most spiritual thing you can do so our life is very spiritual in that sense. Both spirituality and music make you think about things outside of yourself and make you not take random things for granted. And also I think it makes us live a little bit more in how things are and feel, rather than how they might be physically or intellectually.
SB: How is working and creating with your best friend a benefit and a challenge?
Tucker: I really think it’s just the best. We’re so brutally honest with each other. That’s why it works and it’s also kind of streamlined. We just both have to love it. And because we also respect each other’s creativity so much it just works. I really think it’s just a good thing.
SB: Where do you draw your influences to create your iconic fashion moments?
Sophie: From travel really. It’s really cool to go to a place and see what’s in fashion and style. There are so many different cuts and styles and colors that are popular in different places. That’s a part of travel that we really enjoy. We’re really inspired by everything.
Tucker: I get really inspired by colors. I love colors. Some combos of colors are so fun and brightness. A lot of people don’t get enough of that in a day.
SB: What advice do you have for other young talented artists looking to make it in the music industry?
Tucker: Make what you love, not what you think the world loves. Don’t think it needs to sound a specific way. Of course, get inspiration from your favorite artists. Your music doesn’t need to fit in. You just need to trust that other people will love it too if you really love it. A lot of people will make what’s trendy or popular and I don’t think that’s the move. That’s my advice for someone who’s just creating. Be authentic and stick to what you love all around.
Sophie: The self-destructive artist trope is B.S. You have to work really hard. There’s this idea that the more struggling and depressed you are and I don’t think that’s true. I think when you’re in love with life and yourself there’s some opportunity for creation there.
SB: What are you planning next?
Tucker: We go on tour around the United States. Then we’re doing Canada and Europe. Then Christmas family time and then we go on tour next year. We’re really excited about our new EP (out now) called Dancing on the People. I couldn’t be more hyped about it and this is our celebration for it. We got a case of the giggles here [Sophie giggles]. We have so much music coming out. This EP and then we have a full album. A lot of music, a lot of touring, and a lot of good stuff.
Listen to DANCING ON THE PEOPLE below.