story / Lauren Rearick
photos / George Vordos
makeup / Natalia Bizinha for Kett Cosmetics
hair / Patrick Kyle for Bumble & Bumble @ JUMP
creative direction / Allen Henson
The heartbeat of Sofi Tukker can be heard pulsing beneath the beats of their music. During a whirlwind year of viral singles, taking SXSW by storm and supporting M83 on their summer tour, the duo comprised of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern released their debut EP, Soft Animal, in 2016. The EP sees the band bringing an unrelenting dance party to listeners, with six tracks of energetic electro-pop. From the bubbly, slinky mystery of “Drinkee,” to the guitar-driven “Déjà Vu Affair” which sparkles with an ‘80s sheen, the album is a culmination of two vastly different musicians coming together as one.
Hawley-Weld and Halpern met during an evening of music at their alma mater, Brown University. As Hawley-Weld performed an acoustic set, Halpern watched on, intrigued by the sounds he heard. As she began her final song, an idea struck him: “Before my DJ set began I went on during her last song and started speeding it up with backing beats,” he said. “We just jammed out for awhile and we’ve been working together ever since.”
While Hawley-Weld had long hoped for a career in music, her bandmate was forced to rethink a future in basketball after becoming sick his junior year. Unsure of what he wanted to do next, Halpern turned to music. Together, the pair became an unstoppable force, a combination of musical ideals.
“Sofi Tukker is where our two musical brains meet,” he says. “Right in the middle of our two musical backgrounds is this sweet spot and that’s where we are. Half of each of our brains created this being.”
That “being” is fun, innovative dance music that leaves fans around the world moving and singing along. Hawley-Weld admits that neither saw what form the band would take when they began, but what they’ve created is something they poured their whole hearts into. Much of their recorded material is inspired directly by the reactions of fans, with the pair hoping their live performances embody the physicality of their music. Decking out the stage with a large book tree, the duo lose themselves in the music. It’s not just a live performance, but a dance party; an unrelenting celebration of life.
“The audiences are so receptive,” Hawley-Weld shares. “It’s been so fun, and we feel really lucky and inspired by the audience. We get more comfortable on stage each time we do it.”
Her bandmate agrees, remarking that during much of the M83 tour the audiences really felt it. And as Sofi Tukker travels around the world with their music. they’re finding that the language and meaning of Soft Animal translates no matter the country they arrive in.
“The craziest thing is seeing the different types of movement the audience makes,” Halpern reveals. “Countries they don’t necessarily speak the same language in are moving, and it’s a really interesting study to see the different reactions.”
Touring presents little downtime, but the pair are constantly at work on writing and brainstorming new material. Some of this future music even finds its way into live performances, along with tracks from Soft Animal. Many of their songs are inspired by what life feels like in that instant, and Halpern finds the whole process of writing and recording to be exciting: Working together, Sofi Tukker is hoping for a future of continued music, touring and enjoying each adventure as it comes. They consider each part of their career to be a special moment and an incredibly crazy journey.
“We’re just becoming Sofi Tukker,” Halpern muses. “We want to keep making the music we love. We want to connect with the audience and make them feel good, bring joy to our listeners. We’re going to keep pushing and not get complacent.”