Music

Sofi Tukker Want To Take You To Their Treehouse

The dynamic duo talk pre-show rituals, listening to Robyn, and the creative process behind their latest album.
Reading time 9 minutes

Sonny and Cher. Daft Punk. The White Stripes. Yes, several of the greatest acts in music have been duos. Whether lovers or friends, there's just something about twos that seems to work both visually and sonically. Case in point: EDM vanguards Sofi Tukker, consisting of Tucker Halpern and Sophie Hawley-Weld. 

The two first met by chance at an art gallery while attending college at Brown: Hawley-Weld was performing an acoustic Bossa Nova set while Halpern later served as house DJ. Halpern then remixed one of Hawley-Weld's songs on the spot, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

When asked whether they had always wanted to be musicians, their answers are similar but different. "It's definitely something that I always wanted to do whether or not I verbalized it," Hawley-Weld tells me over the phone. "It went in and out of being my identity, but I think in the back of my mind that was the ultimate dream." 

At 21 years old, Halpern was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr's syndrome (a rare, debilitating form of the Herpes virus) and was forced to quit a promising basketball career. "I played drums growing up but the goal was to be a professional basketball player," he shared. "That didn't change until I got sick and I stopped playing basketball my junior year of college." But through that pain would come an obsession with music that would add to his resilience.

With a sound that is undeniably their own, Soffi Tukker is gloriously redefining the world of Electronic Dance Music with their folk-meets-house-meets-bossa nova sound. Playing sold out shows across the world and having just released a new album—TreehouseL'Officiel USA caught up with the two over the phone to check in on life, creating their album, and what they do differently when it comes to music. 

You guys started your American tour last month, how have things been?

HAWLEY-WELD: Wild!

 

What can someone expect from a Sofi Tukker show?

HALPERN: They can expect to be sore afterward. They can expect to definitely need to take a shower. They'll probably just have a lot of glitter on them all of a sudden and not know why.

 

What are some of your pre-show rituals?

HAWLEY-WELD: We have a ton. Probably an hour before the show is when we start to really focus in.

HALPERN: We clear out the green room, Sophie gets out the yoga mats, we get out the workout bands, we start blasting music and we do a little workout basically.

 

Nice! To what music?

HALPERN: We've been listening to a ton of Robyn right now.

 

Oh my God, which album(s)?!

HALPERN: Body Talk and Body Talk Pt. 2.

 

Those bring back so many memories for me.

HALPERN: Yeah, it brings back memories for me too. Everyone has a time in their life when they listen to a shit load of Robyn.

HAWLEY-WELD: Well, this is the first time [listening] in my life.

HALPERN: Yeah! Sophie didn't really [listen to her], so it's been fun to watch her be like Oh my God I love this song!

So now let's talk about Treehouse. What was the inspiration behind the album's concept? It reminded me of treehouses where kids go to escape or play. Was that part of the inspiration?

HALPERN: That's pretty much it!

HAWLEY-WELD: You totally got it!

HALPERN: We were just like, let's make everyone feel like they're kids and go to this sort of sacred clubhouse that everyone's included in. They can make up their own rules and be whoever they want to be and the adults aren't there to tell you what to do.

 

Do you guys think that stems from kids wanting to grow up too fast?

HALPERN: I don't actually think it's a commentary to that. When you grow up, you realize that when you're a quote, unquote adult, you're actually just a grown child. We're not changing that much, you know? We still get excited about stupid shit.

 

What other references did you all utilize?

HAWLEY-WELD: The concept of the treehouse is a big part of it but specifically a tropical treehouse. Tuck and I just feel like that landscape is the most inspiring to us and it's the one that we feel the most drawn to. There's something about it that feels extra escape-y because neither of us grew up in the tropics, but we did spend some time there. That was probably our highest feeling of being connected to nature and that childhood spirit. It's just so beautiful.

 

Where are some of your favorite destinations where you feel that connection to nature?

HAWLEY-WELD: For me, it's Brazil. I felt so connected to nature the entire time I was there.

HALPERN: For me, it's less exotic. It's just Florida because I didn't leave the country when I was growing up, but it was always a happy place in my mind. There's sunlight, palm trees, and the ocean. When we make music, we want [it] to transport us to this place.

When listening to the album I pictured ‘90s supermodels walking a runway on the beach, getting trashy.

HALPERN: Fashion show on the beach is exactly the vibe.

 

What was the creative process like?

HALPERN: We didn't really need to write an album [but] we just were creating stuff constantly. We kind of just continuously [wrote] and got to a point where we had a bunch of songs that felt like a cohesive unit. So we were like, Oh wow! I think we have an album here.

 

HAWLEY-WELD: I think the nice thing about this process was, it's not like we had a deadline. [or] a label saying, You need to deliver an album by April 2018. It was just like, we're making things on some days; the things that we're making come out of us like nothing, you know? Some days we came to the studio and it was a little more difficult but we stayed until it worked. It felt really organic the entire time.

 

Which song took the longest to record?

HAWLEY-WELD: "My Body Hurts" because when we wrote it, I mean, our bodies really fucking hurt. We made this song that ended up sounding really abrasive so when we listened to it again, we were like, well we kind of like this, but we can't listen to it. It was hard. We got so tired [of] listening to it, we had to really figure out how to soften that one and make it palatable and playable.

 

I think everybody's felt that way.

HAWLEY-WELD: Yeah, it's universal.

Tell me about "Fuck They." It is such a jam. What inspired its kind of anthemic vibe?

HAWLEY-WELD: Yeah, we wrote that probably a year ago. At the time we were at a wedding. There are all these rules about how to behave at a wedding. How to dress, and how to stand and how to clap and how to toast and how to--- there are so many little things. There are a million reasons why we wrote that song, it wasn't just about that specific event, but I remember being at the wedding and we kept saying to each other, "Fuck they."

HALPERN: Yeah, I was like who made up the rules that I have a to wear a fucking tie to a wedding?! Fuck that!

 

I totally resonate.

HAWLEY-WELD: And it's not like we're about being disrespectful. I remember there was a moment when we were dancing in the church and Tuck and I were fist pumping, getting super hype, and people kind of looked at us, but the bride and groom were loving what we were doing. So if people are loving what we're doing, and it feels fun and uplifting, then who's to say that we can't do that? What rule is that? Who is that helping?

 

Finally, what do you think you bring to today's music industry?

HALPERN: I don't know. Hopefully, other people can find stuff that makes us unique and that drives them to us, but I think one thing that is pretty obvious to me, is that so much music and so much of popular culture right now is like, downer. A lot of it is not making people feel good and I think we want to make everyone feel great.

HAWLEY-WELD: Yeah. It's not like we're against any of the people that are doing music like that, it's just not what we're trying to accomplish. [We get] really excited by bringing more joy and celebration, shining a light on positive things. It's not that we don't see value in people feeling more together in the difficult things they're going through—there's space for that—but we definitely are about the sunshine, the positivity, [and] the free expression of celebrating life.

'Treehouse' is available now. 

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