“There’s Power in Language”: A Conversation With Grammy-Nominated EDM Duo SOFI TUKKER

SOFI TUKKER © Vanessa Vlandis
SOFI TUKKER © Vanessa Vlandis
Speaking with us before their main stage set at Electric Forest, Grammy-nominated EDM duo SOFI TUKKER discuss their Las Vegas residency, their famously colorful festival outfits, and they offer some helpful advice about following dreams.
Stream: “Jacaré” – SOFI TUKKER

The story goes like this.

I’m sitting in traffic, half a mile from the festival entrance. The line to get into Electric Forest is a few hundred cars long, moving forward at a snail’s pace.

My interview with the Grammy-nominated DJs was in 15 minutes. A decision to make.

I ditch my car on the side of the road, and I start sprinting. Without a clue on where to go, by chance, I had chosen the right direction to run. With minutes left, I somehow spotted the media lounge. Frantically flashing my press pass to anyone who would usher me through, I managed to make it on time.

It was the right call, and even made for a good icebreaker with SOFI TUKKER, the (very patient) EDM duo behind mega-hits “Purple Hat” and “Best Friend.”

SOFI TUKKER © Vanessa Vlandis
SOFI TUKKER © Vanessa Vlandis

The globe-trekking duo consists of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. All throughout day one at Electric Forest, their set was one of the most anticipated.

They are known for a unique blend of varying cultural influences in their upbeat dance music. In our chat, we dive deep into the styles that influence the young DJs, including Disco, Techno, Baiao, Bossa Nova, Piano Music, Jazz, and more.

SOFI TUKKER’s story is one of perseverance and determination.

They are kind people doing fun things, and we had an amazing chat. However, the thing that will stay with me forever is the advice that the duo gave me, and really any young music lover, with aspirations of following in their footsteps.


Atwood Magazine: First question I ask every artist, I'm just genuinely really curious, what kind of music do you guys listen to? Like when you're not working on EDM? Are you secretly a country music fan, anything like that?

Tucker Halpern: “No, not me. I love listening to dance music, house music, techno, disco. I stay pretty upbeat and pretty dancy personally, but I also like, I can respect and love all types of music. I grew up listening to all types of music. But like Sophie really listens to other music.”

Sophie Hawley-Weld: [laughing] “Ya I listen to dance music as well, but I really love jazz and I love I mean; I listen to like piano music and I listen to a lot of different styles of Brazilian music, and I love Baiao. It’s one of my favorite styles right now. Yeah, it’s kind of all over the place.”

What’s Baiao?

Sophie Hawley-Weld: “Baiao, it’s like it’s a style of Brazilian music. It’s more upbeat, and less like slow and boring, as Tucker would say [chuckles]. And then bossa nova it has like an accordion and yeah, yeah.”

Can you tell me more about when you lived in Brazil? Like what's the difference in the EDM scene over there compared to here?

Sophie Hawley-Weld: “We did just do a really cool festival called So Track Boa. I don’t know if you know the artist, Vintage Culture, and he has that festival. We’ve done it in Belo Horizonte, and in Rio, and it seems like a really cool kind of like, house music, electronic music scene.

Tucker Halpern: “Yeah, there’s not as much, it’s becoming more of a thing over there, like house and techno and stuff. It’s definitely more focused on like Baile Funk and sort of like ass-shaking music rather than like, repetitive four on the floor. It’s definitely becoming more popular. There’s a thing called Brazilian bounce too, which a lot of DJs over there have, like Alok and Chemical Surf.”

SOFI TUKKER © Shervin Lainez
SOFI TUKKER © Shervin Lainez

Is there any sort of genre that you guys haven't explored yet? But you think maybe one day you will?

Sophie Hawley-Weld: “Yeah, I mean, there’s so many genres. Still half the time when we make music, we have no idea what genre we’re making. And it’s usually a combination of both of our brands, which you know, are listening to very different genres. So, for sure, there’s tons of genres that we don’t even know exist, you know, that already have names. They are, you know, all over the world that I’m sure we all get inspired by.”

Speaking of there being so many genres, there's so many places that you guys have played already, which is so awesome. Are there any places that you haven't been yet where you really want to perform in?

Sophie Hawley-Weld: “There are so many places we haven’t been. I really want to go to Morocco. I really want to go to South Africa. I really want to go to India. I really want to go to Kenya. There are so many places. [chuckles] Yeah. Those are kind of my top right now.”

I saw on your Instagram that you guys were just in Oklahoma, not as exotic, but how was that? Seemed like a little vacation with friends.

Tucker Halpern: [laughs] “Oklahoma ya, It was so fun though! We had a really fun off day. We found this like swimming hole, a waterfall area with a park, and saw the Little Mermaid at night. It’s a vibe. We swam like Little Mermaid, then watched the Little Mermaid. It was great. [chuckles]

How rare is it for you guys to get a few days off and just hang out with your friends like that?

Tucker Halpern: Really rare, ya. That might have been the only time we’ve ever done that on tour, In like eight years. Seven years?

Sophie Hawley-Weld: “No, I think we’ve probably done it a couple of times. It’s very rare though.”

Maybe again for Little Mermaid the sequel?”

Tucker Halpern: “The movie was so good I’d go again.

Sophie Hawley-Weld: “Ya we were like dancing in the movie theater, it was so fun!”

SOFI TUKKER © Vanessa Vlandis
SOFI TUKKER © Vanessa Vlandis

You guys just started a Las Vegas residency, right? So, tell me about that. I'm sure my Vegas experience is different than yours. What's it like being a famous DJ duo in Vegas?

Tucker Halpern: “I don’t know your Vegas experience. Maybe not?”

I lose a lot of money.

Tucker Halpern: “Okay yeah we make money in Vegas” [laughs]. We’re just kidding though we don’t gamble, we go way too much to be gamblers. But I love playing the Vegas residency. It’s our second year with Tao and our third year of Vegas residency overall, I guess, and it’s so much fun. It’s just awesome. We’re going to Tao beach in two days and I’m looking forward to it.”

What's the stuff that regular people don't see about Vegas?

Tucker Halpern: “I don’t think, like it’s nothing, there’s no secrets. I think we’re actually doing less. Like we’ll go play an awesome show. Have an awesome dinner. Stay in a nice hotel, get a good amount of sleep, and then leave. Like I feel like when people go to Vegas, they’re doing 18,000 things going crazy and then like begging to leave. We’re pretty chill when we go to Vegas. [chuckles]”

I saw you at Bonnaroo, I saw you at governor's ball. You guys kill it every time. One thing I feel like you don't get enough credit for is that you guys have amazing rave outfits every time I see you playing live. How do you guys choose your onstage outfits, and do you ever see anyone at festivals that you think has a more interesting look?

SOFI TUKKER: “Oh all the time!”

Sophie Hawley-Weld: I’m always inspired by people’s outfits. I mean, I have to shout out Ina, who’s my stylist who goes through my closet with me and has ideas that I would never think of.

Tucker Halpern: “Ya Ina’s dope. I just kind of have what I have in my suitcase and give it a go. Our stage fits though, the ones we were at the last couple of festivals, and this one, are made with our friend Johnny Wu, who’s like a legendary costume designer. And yeah, mine have a lot of flames embroidered all over the pants and stuff.”

Sophie Hawley-Weld: “Yeah, we custom design them with him. And they’re so fun. Mine are very pink. I have this enormous pink and purple gradient cape that I love and also got a really dope Swarovski crystal guitar strap from them. I love it, definitely completes that outfit.”

SOFI TUKKER © Vanessa Vlandis
SOFI TUKKER © Vanessa Vlandis

So I want to bring you guys back to college really quick. When all your friends were graduating, assuming going into corporate jobs. Were you guys like ‘nope, that's not for me.’ What was your mindset then?

Sophie Hawley-Weld: “I actually remember going to a job fair. It was in New York. And there were just like a bunch of Brown alumni and brown grads, like kind of mingling. We were learning about international development. So, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and talking to all these alumni and I actually, I mean, as much as I still am interested in international development, I think it’s important. I remember leaving the job fair and I got on the subway. I looked at this girl who I barely knew, and I started bawling and I was like, ‘I just want to sing and dance.’ [laughing] It was like one of the first moments where I was like, admitting to myself what I really wanted to do. And yeah, I mean, it was kind of a hard transition and thing to admit because it was like, who am I to believe that you know, I could do that. But yeah, it was something that I had always dreamed of since I was a little kid.”

Tucker Halpern: “Honestly, I got distracted because I feel like you want to do this. And I feel like I should give you some confidence to fucking do this. I feel like from the questions, this is what he wants to be doing.

Sophie Hawley-Weld: “Let’s go! Tucker is totally right. Do you want to do it?”

(chuckling) I mean, it would be really nice to be a DJ.

Tucker Halpern: “I can feel it. I just feel it. It doesn’t matter about me. We did it. It’s awesome. We got lucky and we worked our asses off. But I feel like you could do this.

Sophie Hawley-Weld: “Yeah, I also really do think that there’s power in language, like even to yourself at first and then slowly to other people. Like even you telling us right now that you want to do it. Like I remember the first time that I started to admit it, and it might sound preposterous at first, but you have to start there.”

Tucker Halpern: “And your friends might not believe you or respect it at first, your parents might not. But if you really put the work in, they will start.”

(chuckling) Thanks for the chat and the advice guys, it really means a lot getting a boost of motivation from two of the best in the game right now. Good luck on your set, we’re all super excited!

SOFI TUKKER: “Thanks Nick, best of luck.”

— —

:: stream/purchase Jacaré here ::
:: connect with SOFI TUKKER here ::
Stream: “Jacaré” – SOFI TUKKER

— — — —


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? © Vanessa Vlandis

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