When Sophie first met Tucker, she thought that his music was fun but sort of cheesy. When Tucker first met Sophie, he thought that her music was beautiful but slow. But who knew that when these two eventually came together as a musical duo, their styles would end up matching quite naturally. And after forming as a band in 2016, working together for long hours on planes and buses, releasing and performing hits like Drinkee and Awoo while touring the world and being nominated for two Grammy awards, Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern can finally say they are now friends...
Just kidding. The duo, better known as Sofi Tukker, have become the best creative partners for each other over the last few years. According to them, “both of our sounds and styles became elevated through the other person”, and in the process, they’ve had a lot of fun while having a worldwide impact with their music. Energetic, impulsive, charismatic, expressive; Sophie and Tucker are here to stay. With a packed schedule full of concerts and festivals until the end of summer (and beyond), we got a chance to speak with them about Portuguese poetry, complementing each other and growing together artistically, and their surprising dates for the Grammys – their parents.
When you two first met, it was mainly a musical partnership that naturally evolved over time into the genuine friendship that we see today. What were your initial reactions of each other like musically? And how did it go from the music to a friendship over time?
Tucker: When we first met, I thought what she was doing was beautiful but really slow.
Sophie: when we first met, I thought what he was doing was fun but kinda cheesy. The collaboration happened really naturally, and I think both of our sounds and styles became elevated through the other person.
Tucker: It was a while until we really hung out as friends. Really after we moved to New York together to form the band. And then, Sophie got injured and was in a wheelchair and we talked on Skype every day for four months. That’s really when we became close.
To those who don’t know your music, it’s usually a fusion of bossa nova and house style that has garnered hits like your Grammy-nominated song Drinkee and the remix of your song Energia with Brazilian singer Pabllo Vittar. Did you ever think this eclectic combination of musical styles could produce such hits that would resonate with people around the world?
Sophie: We always loved what we were making but we thought it was a super niche thing. We definitely didn't expect it to resonate in all the places that it has.
Tucker: We keep getting surprised by new countries popping up and resonating with our music! We’ve gotten the chance to travel the world because of it, something I definitely never expected.
Sort of related to the previous question, what does music mean to both of you? More specifically, how do you both relate to your respective styles of music?
Sophie: Music is everything! It is the most spiritual art form I think because it really communicates the most important energetic stuff that you can never put words to. Making music can be a form of processing and reflection or it can just be an escape. It can really serve so many purposes.
Tucker: For me, it's definitely mostly an escape. It takes me to places I want to be. I'm not a huge lyrics guy and the sounds are usually more important than the meaning for me.
Take us through your typical process when it comes to creating new music. Mainly, where do you produce this music since you both are on the road so much? When it comes to creating the lyrics and beats, who’s in charge of what, and is it ever exclusive to one person?
Tucker: We produce on the road all the time! In the back of buses, on planes, anywhere. We do everything super collaboratively.
Sophie: Tucker is usually at the computer and I'm usually writing or on the guitar but we are constantly giving each other feedback.
Some of your songs, like Drinkee and Johny, are based on poems by Brazilian authors. What importance do poetry and literature play in your music and in your lives in general?
Sophie: I love poetry and literature, and they've been a big part of my life for forever. It’s been really cool with the Portuguese, especially to collaborate with poets because I am not from Brazil and even though I speak Portuguese, it’s not my native tongue. So I have totally different and usually brand new associations with a lot of the words.
Just recently, your debut album Treehouse was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Dance/Electronic Album category. It must’ve felt great! Do you feel a nomination like this can mark a before-and-after moment in your career?
Tucker: It just happened so we’re not sure yet! It is a good way to round out that album though and to thank all the people that were a part of it.
Sophie: We are definitely ready to move on to the new music now! Couldn’t be more excited.
How do you prepare for a live show or concert? Any rituals or routines we can know about?
Sophie: I usually meditate for about an hour and a half before we go on. And then, Tuck and I warm up and do a little workout before we go on.
Tucker: Lots of hype up music, push-ups, activating our muscles. Our shows are pretty crazy so we have to prepare our bodies for it!
Last year, you launched your very own record label, Animal Talk, which is about supporting and unifying artists in a musical collective that nurtures their artistic growth. When did you know that you wanted to launch your own record label and what was your intention behind its founding?
Tucker: We have been meeting so many amazing and talented people since we started the band, and our intention is just to support them in any way we can.
Sophie: Community is probably the most important thing in the world to us. And the more we can use our platform to lift up the people we believe in and grow a community out of it, the better.
If you could pick a musical collaboration with an artist across any genre of music, who would that be?
Stromae! He is an icon. Everything about his artistry is brilliant.
Without thinking, name one quirk that you like, or even dislike, about one another.
Tucker: Sophie being late.
Sophie: Tucker being messy.
Looking back, 2018 was a big year for Sofi Tukker. What was your favorite moment of last year? What happened that made it so memorable?
Sophie: Honestly, the moment I am thinking of right now was just a month and a half ago. Our parents both flew out to be our dates to the Grammys and having them all here gathered together was so special.
Tucker: Starting Animal Talk parties is probably the most memorable. They've been such crazy shows and it really feels like a unique experience we can't wait to continue spreading!
How do you plan on keeping that momentum going for 2019? Is there any new music in the works that we should look out for?
So much new music. New videos. We have a whole new world about to unfold.
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