NYC-based acoustic house duo SOFI TUKKER — comprised of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern — first made waves with the release of their viral world music-tinged dance cut “Drinkee” last year. After earning a synch in an Apple Watch ad, and with the help of follow-up singles like “Matadora,” “Déjà Vu Affair” and “Hey Lion” — the buzzing pair have become one of the hotly tipped new acts this year, netting over 8 million Spotify streams to date since their debut.
Today, the New York-based pair arrive fully-formed with the release of their debut EP, Soft Animals.
Speaking with Billboard, they discuss their viral beginnings, global sound and inspirations and touring with M83.
It’s been a year since “Drinkee” was first released – did you ever foresee this kind of viral and global success for the track?
No! All we knew is that we loved it and we thought a small amount of people might think it was cool but maybe a little weird. We are blown away by the reception.
How do you think you’ve evolved as musical partners since you first started working together? Has touring solidified your bond even further?
Even from the first EP to the new songs that we’ve written and performed, we’ve grown so much. It feels as though the more shows we do, the more we grow as writers, performers, and people! We always joke that when we started the band we weren’t even friends. Through all the traveling, dreaming, creating, and working hard we have become besties.
You just dropped the video for “Drinkee” and it’s an especially visually unique/eye-popping treatment – how did you come up with the concept?
We came up with the concept collaboratively with the director, Sam Mason. We have a really insanely clear vision for our musical aesthetic and it was hard and scary for us to give up some creative control for the visual side of things (since we aren’t filmmakers). We are glad we got to work with Sam who let us be pretty annoying with our constant feedback on everything; he not only enacted our ideas but also made them better than we could have thought of! We shot the video in Brooklyn at the beginning of the summer. We were both nervous to be in front of the camera. It’s so different than being on stage. We ended up goofing off to loosen up and some of it even ended up in the video (see: Tucker’s sippy moments)
You guys were one of the most hotly tipped acts at SXSW this year – how has your live show evolved since your first shows, to now opening for acts like M83 and headlining your own shows?
The biggest evolution has probably been our banter and comfort on stage. It was really strange at first to address an audience; now, it feels natural and we feel like we can finally relax and be ourselves. The book tree has also really evolved… it has literally grown from a little book sprout into an 8 foot tree! At first it was built on a little cymbal stand and now it’s been fabricated and welded to our weird imaginations.
How did touring with M83 affect you – did you become friends/learn anything from them about tour life/how to survive on the road?
They are really the nicest people! Getting to watch them every night is really special. We stayed the entire show almost every night just because they are too good to leave.
Currently touring in Europe – since your sound is very global, how does it feel to see the different reactions to your music in foreign markets? Have you noticed any differences btw your fans in different countries vs. others?
Each country moves so differently! It’s so fun and fascinating to witness how audiences respond and show enthusiasm in different ways. We’ve been blown away by all the crowds so far — even countries with stereotypically stiff crowds have surprised us.
You debut EP drops today – how does it feel to put out your first official set of music, after playing the singles game for the past year?
It feels great! We are really excited to be making vinyls too. And we are eager to release even more!! Each song is like a little slice of us so the more we release, the more we feel like we are sharing who we really are (and figuring out who we are along the way!)
What was the inspiration for the title Soft Animals and how does it play into your music and the set?
It’s inspired by the Mary Oliver poem, “Wild Geese.” She says: “you do not have to be good. you do not have to walk on your knees through the desert repenting. you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves…” It has become a mantra for us. Rather than asking ourselves if something is “good” we ask ourselves if it makes the soft animal of our bodies love what they love. Our soft animals are feeling really nourished right now… we keep leaving shows feeling really connected and as though everyone was on the same wavelength, experiencing something together that we can’t really describe but is so magical and rare to experience with strangers!!
Catch SOFI TUKKER on tour through August (full dates below).
Upcoming Tour Dates:
July 9 – Zamardi, Hungary @ Balaton Sound Festival
July 15 – Salacgriva, Latvia @ Positivus Festival
July 20 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre (w/ Chairlift)*
July 21 – Boston, MA @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion (w/ Chairlift)
July 25 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant*
July 27 – Council Bluffs, IA @ Stir Cove*
July 28 – Chicago, IL @ The Vic Theatre* (SOLD OUT)
July 30 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right
August 19 – San Francisco, CA @ Popscene at Rickshaw Stop
August 20 – Los Angeles, CA @ Pershing Square (w/ Todd Rundgren) (FREE SHOW)