R.I.P Shame. What? That was exactly Headliner’s thoughts when learning that this was the name of Grammy-nominated duo, SOFI TUKKER’s, upcoming world tour. Turns out it’s not an obscure, belated protest to Cersei’s walk of atonement, (in fact, one half of the band has never even seen Game of Thrones – Shame! Shame!), but the desire to kill shame, one dance party at a time. Still not following? Headliner chats to SOFI TUKKER ahead of their DANCING ON THE PEOPLE E.P release, and all becomes clear. Kind of.
Attempting to summarise SOFI TUKKER’s sound is tricky. Veering more in the direction of electronic / dance music, the quirky American duo seem to be genre (and Caps Lock)-defying: Influenced by Kundalini yoga chants, Portuguese poet, Chacal, and West African dance and drumming, (all the while urging fans to “let their freak flags fly,") the likeable pair have an infectious vibration all of their own.
Speaking to them on the phone in L.A early in the morning, Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern have just woken up, although their back and forth banter is still sharp. Headliner attempts to get them to describe their sound, and is promptly called out on it.
“I see what you’re doing – you can’t describe it so you’re asking us to describe it!” Halpern laughs.
Hawley-Weld comes to my rescue: “He’s not shy! It’s definitely hard to describe our sound…we try not to, even for our sake. We don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves when we’re creating music, so we’re not defined by anything. It’s kind of dance music, but that’s as specific as I can get – it can be upbeat, mellow, super goofy, or thoughtful. We hope people feel better after listening to us than they did before.”
Halpern offers: “One song might be a poem to a trance vibe, and sometimes it’s a full on structural song. Genre-wise it’s more dance, if you try to name it – but it’s more about feeling-wise.”
“Exactly,” agrees Hawley-Weld. “It’s really organic. What we really want to write about is: how do we want to speak to ourselves? So we write in that way. I hope that rubs off on other people who hear that. It’s important to me that the words are honest and not empowering in a cliche way, but more how I am processing the world…” she trails off, losing her train of though. “I need some tea!”
Halpern tells Hawley-Weld to wake up: “I was looking for smelling salts!” he laughs.
Meeting at college (that’s uni for our U.K readers) when the then-strangers were at Brown university, a chance meeting saw their two artistic mindsets collide – and the rest is history: Their debut single, Drinkee was nominated for a Best Dance Recording Grammy, which was followed by a Best Dance/Electronic Album Grammy nomination for their debut album, Treehouse.
Despite being ludicrously popular (especially in Portugese-speaking countries – more on that later), they just might be the most popular dance music duo you’ve never heard of…yet.
SOFI TUKKER's records have achieved Gold or Platinum status on every continent other than Antarctica. Their electric and energetic live shows have sold out venues and graced major festival stages across the planet, not to mention performances on The Tonight Show, Italy’s X-Factor, Sunday Brunch in the UK, the Late Show in Russia and BuzzRhythm in Japan. Their appeal is global, boosting significantly when Apple came calling, using their infectious song, Best Friend, to launch the iPhone X.
The song was played during the iPhone X full commercial reveal at the Apple event in September 2017, features in the football game, FIFA 18, and those listening closely will hear it playing in the club scene in 2018 movie, Ocean's Eight. Not to mention the song has been streamed more than 70 million times on Spotify.
“That was a shock,” admits Halpern. “Apple is so secretive, we didn’t even know what the ad was going to be, or if it would be a big, important add or not. When we found out it was the focus of the whole release for the iPhone X, we were pretty shook! That was crazy. We had no idea how it might affect our careers – it didn’t happen overnight, but I think over the next year, we really realised how massive the campaign was, and how much influence they have – even if you’re just tagged along with it. It was definitely huge for us as independent artists in the U.S. Without a huge label machine behind us, I think it was pretty incredible because it got our music to so many more people than we could have done otherwise.”