Sofi Tukker on 'Soft Animals', The "Johny" Vid, And SXSW
Sofi Tukker isn’t your standard, indie pop, Brooklyn-based duo; consisting of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, the band’s intoxicating sound combines electronic-based stylings with Sophie’s ethereal vocals and jungle-pop motif for a sound that sets ’em apart. Last year, the pair released their Soft Animals EP featuring the GRAMMY nominated tune, “Drinkee”. And rendered live? A rambunctious dance party inevitably ensues, as was the case during their jaunt in Austin for the always-epic SXSW.
On the heels of a dope SXSW performance at The Main, we caught up with the dynamic duo to discuss the inner workings of the Sofi Tukker project, what it means to surround yourself with strong AF women, and how the new “Johny” video came to fruition. Peep the video below, and keep scrolling for the full interview.
How did you meet?
Sophie: We met at college. We were both playing at an art gallery. I was an acoustic, Bossa nova-inspired singer/songwriter and Tucker came early, saw my set…
Tucker: I was going to DJ the party.
Sophie: He was a house music DJ.
Tucker: Yeah, I was a house music DJ and I heard her stuff and it was amazing, but like so slow and boring and I was like, “Dang! This could be so tight if it was better.” (Laughs)
Well, that’s nice! (Laughs)
Sophie: We have different paces, so that’s why it works so well. He remixed my song on the spot and it was awesome. Basically since that day, we’ve worked together every day.
So, how many years now?
Sophie: That was like three years ago, but we didn’t actually start the band until like a year.
Really? Your dynamics make it seem like you’ve worked with each other forever.
Tucker: I didn’t know anything about her.
Sophie: Oh my God! You know everything about me! (Laughs)
And belated congrats on being nominated for a GRAMMY. That’s major.
Tucker: Yeah, it’s crazy.
I’m sure it was surreal when you received the news, right?
Tucker: We found out when everyone else found out. Yeah, we didn’t know. I didn’t know that was the day that GRAMMY nominations were coming out or anything. It was such a shock. We were at a video shoot. We were giddy all day.
How did the concept for the video for “Johny” come to fruition?
Sophie: It was actually the brainchild of a friend of ours, Bekka Gunther. She really concocted the whole idea, but we’re really excited to stand behind it and support her. We’ve done work to make it something that we both were really excited about. It’s exciting to us to have women be loud and unapologetic, bold and picking their wedgies and screaming and doing it together—celebrating each other. We thought the song was really fun.
Tucker: It just felt like it went really well with the song.
Sophie: It’s also in New York, in our neighborhood.
Tucker: Yeah, it’s right in our neighborhood in Williamsburg. We hadn’t really shown that side of us before. We have the whole jungle vibe going with a lot of our aesthetic which we love and works really well with our music and it’s very inspiring to our music, but it’s nice to show that side of things.
Dope. You mentioned it, but you are electronic-based with tribal vibes and so many different sounds that I appreciate. How did you guys develop your sound?
Tucker: The way we think about it is a Venn diagram. There’s two circles—our brain and influences we like, then there’s that little spot that overlaps and I think that’s where all our fun, weird stuff goes into that is totally what Sofi Tukker is. It’s constantly changing and evolving because our tastes are constantly changing and evolving and being influenced, traveling and stuff. That’s the best way we can describe it usually.
I like that analogy. Certain songs are in English while some are in Portuguese. What is the background? Where are you from?
Sophie: I was born in Germany, lived in Atlanta for a while, lived in Canada for a while [and] went to boarding school in Italy. My parents live in the Netherlands. They’re moving to Switzerland. I have an American passport, but I have an infatuation with Brazilian Portuguese. I just think it’s so sexy. I studied it in college and went to Brazil to study the language. I love the way it sounds. I love the poetry.
So cool. I always like to ask pairs what they admire about each other. So, what do you value about Tucker and vice versa?
Sophie: Oh man! So many things.
Tucker: Lay it on me!
Sophie: One thing that I really appreciate about him is his work ethic and his ability to bring me into that. It’s awesome. He’s a really hard worker and so passionate about what we’re doing and doesn’t let us cut corners or have any slack which I love. I appreciate how fun it is to work really hard. He’s also extremely compassionate. He’s a good friend. Sometimes he can be hard on people, but it’s only out of love.
So, your turn, Tucker!
Tucker: She’s taught me a lot. I’ve just grown up a lot because of Sophie and Justina [our manager]. There’s a lot of things I’ve become more sensitive to in a positive way that I should have always been more sensitive to maybe.
Tucker: Well, I’ve been an athlete my whole life and I grew up playing basketball. I played basketball in college. There’s just sort of this sense of culture in the athletic community and a lot went with that. I kind of straddled athletes and non-athletes in college and most people only stick to one. I don’t know exactly how to say it because I don’t think I was an ass or unaware. I’ve always been aware of how things make people feel, but certain issues and things that are more sensitive to women probably that if I wasn’t literally with very intelligent, communicative, strong women all the time, you might not be aware of. There’s like another level of awareness that you wouldn’t understand as a man, unless you spend that much time with women. That’s been really nice to me. I’ll be a better husband and father because of Sophie and that’s cool and definitely Justina as well.
That makes sense, since you’re surrounded by these strong women.
Tucker: Yeah, it’s exciting. I have some other friends that I feel the same way about. The past couple of years I’ve been surrounded by strong, incredible women. A lot of my closest friends have been women and when I was on sports teams I was surrounded by men all of the time. It’s just a different environment to be around. It’s been amazing.
Images courtesy of Bekka Gunther and Shervin Lainez
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