You’ve probably heard Sofi Tukker, even if you don’t quite recognise their name just yet. The NYC duo, with their stratospherically popular hit Drinkee, nabbed that elusive treasure every artist is frothing for in the 2010s – the viral indie hit.
It’s been churning on repeat on Triple J recently, and they’ve recently dropped their debut EP Soft Animals EP, which is full of the kind of infectious, Brazilian-influenced indie house beats you’ve undoubtedly tapped your feet too courtesy of Drinkee.
PEDESTRIAN.TV chatted to Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern about collaboration, Brazil and when the hell they’re gonna haul ass to Australia.
P.TV: Congrats on releasing your EP – obviously that’s amazing. What was the process like making that one?
S: We made these songs over a pretty long period of time… I mean, maybe not that long.
T: We were just figuring out how to make songs at that point. These were the first songs that we wrote together, and we were just figuring out how to *make* songs. Working out how to use the studio, wasting a lot of time working on songs we didn’t end up loving. We learned not to spend time on those ones. Once you know it’s not right, it’s not right.
P.TV: You’ve both obviously got your own distinct musical backgrounds. What’s it been like bringing those two worlds together?
S: Given we come from such different backgrounds, I think it’s an amazing surprise can make music that we both really love. I think it’s been surprisingly seamless working together, because although we have things that we like separately, we have an aesthetic that is… Sofi Tukker
T: It’s one of those things where, you know, two plus two equals six. We each had our own thing, and they were cool, but when you put ‘em together, it was like “Oh, this is really different and cool.”
What do you think each of you bring to the sound as individuals?
S: I bring some raw emotion and sensuality, and I bring some… weirdness. And some Brazilian Portuguese. And some poetry. Tucker, what do you bring to the table?
T: We should have done this the opposite way. I bring the… untz, untz untz.
P.TV: So Sophie brings the weirdness, the Brazilian influence, the sensuality… and you bring the backbeat. Is that what I’m hearing?
T: It’s a little more complicated than that! I bring the house music, the energy and the happiness. But at the same time she ends up bringing a lot of that, too. It ends up being that we don’t even know who does what, apart from Sofi bringing the lyrics. We really work together. I couldn’t even tell you who brought the main bassline on most of the songs.
P.TV: ’Drinkee’ was obviously a massive viral hit for you guys. What kind of expectations do you have going into making a more fully formed EP after that kind of hit? Was that hanging over your head?
T: Actually, we made the EP before all of that, so we didn’t expect that. Which was nice! We were never competing. Even the songs we’ve made since Drinkee became its own thing… we’ve never really felt controlled by it, or limited by it, or having to compete with it at all. It’s just another piece of who we are.
P.TV: What’s the touring life been like?
S: It’s been really fun. We’ve learned that we love being on the road, and we love getting to meet all these people and different artists. Tour life is certainly different than other lives we’ve led. We dove in, and it’s been really fucking fun.
P.TV: Do you have any… wild stories? Or even one wild story?
S: Do we have any wild stories? Tucker went to the casino and lost all his money.
T: We went to a casino in Iowa when were touring with M83, and I didn’t do to well. But hey. I still love those guys.
P.TV: The music video for ‘Drinkee’ has a really unique aesthetic, and so does Sofi Tukker. What was the experience like handing your aesthetic over to a director to interpret?
S: We worked really closely with him. So, it was sort of like – we had obviously never made a music video before, and it was pretty scary – putting trust into someone else’s hands. We tried to steer and inspire the way the video would look as much as we possibly could, with images. We talked a lot. It was amazing, because he took everything we gave him and went further with it.
T: We feel like through the process, he understands what means a lot to us. So we’re doing our next video with him.
P.TV: This might be more for Sofi, but can you tell us a little more about that distinct Brazilian influence your music has?
S: I am extremely obsessed with Portuguese. I spent six months living in Rio and learning the language and studying guitar. I think Brazilian Portuguese is one of the most beautiful languages, and it really lends itself to melody. I also kinda get freed for the need for meaning, and the concern for the words I’m saying, because it’s not my mother language. We collaborated with a Brazilian poet, who I met while studying Brazilian poetry at Brown. I just love the Brazilian relationship to music.
P.TV: What’s next for you guys?
S: We’re in the studio today, and tomorrow. We’re going on tour with St. Lucia in September and October around the US. I don’t know how far in advance you want this answer to go…
Thirty, forty years would be absolutely great.
T: I want some kids at some point. That’s really the fifteen year range. Maybe twenty.
Are we gonna see you in Australia sometime soon?
S: We’d love to come to Australia sometime.
P.TV: What about your live performances would you say is unique?
T: We have an instrument we made ourselves called the book tree… it’s like this 9-foot-tall… thing… made out of books and drum pads, and we put contact microphones inside the books. I play a lot of the parts – piano parts, drum parts, trumpet parts – all with the books. We play it together sometimes. That’s definitely different to what a lot of people are doing.
We bring a ton of energy, we love to do it, and we bring a lot of love to what we do. The joy we get from doing it is huge, and we hope some of that rubs off. It’s just a fun time.
Photo: Sofi Tukker.