Sufi Tukker is the newest electro-dance act you don’t want to miss at Coachella this year. New York duo Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern have taken over the dance music scene with their hit single “Drinkee,” which was adapted from a Portuguese poem by the Brazilian poet Chacal. You may have first heard the tune in this 2015 Apple commercial, but the track has since gained over six million views on YouTube, more than 26 million streams on Spotify and even scored them a GRAMMY nomination for Dance Recording of the Year. The pair recently kicked off their North American tour in Toronto with back-to-back sold-out shows, but even if you missed them during their Canadian stop, you can catch them at some of this year’s hottest festivals, including Coachella and Osheaga.
FLARE asked the twosome about how they met, their most memorable behind-the-scenes GRAMMY moments and Tucker’s fave dick joke. Peep the full interview below:
Sophie, you actually spent some time living in Canada.
Sophie: Yeah, near Victoria. I spent grade nine and ten going to school in Victoria. My parents lived there for 10 years. I was going back for vacation all the time [when they lived there] and I love it. It’s just so beautiful.
Where does the Brazilian vibe in your music come from?
Sophie: I fell in love with the language and the music in college so I decided to learn Portuguese. Then I went to Rio and fell more in love with the language and music and it just kept going.
Where did you two meet?
Sophie: At college—we both went to Brown University, but we didn’t actually know each other until senior year. We were both playing this art gallery. I was in an acoustic jazz trio and Tucker was DJ-ing afterwards and he came early. Thank god.
When did you decide you had to make music together?
Tucker: I saw her singing a song she had written and it was so amazing. It was in Portuguese. I don’t have any connection to Portuguese but I listened to a lot of music in other languages because I was really into house music; there are all sorts of languages that are featured in house. I wanted to do a remix of her song, so I approached her after. We ended up working together the next day, redoing that song together, and have worked together every day since, basically.
How would you describe your individual sound before you met one another?
Tucker: I don’t think we found it. It wasn’t ever right until it was together.
Sophie: I was making folk music, and then I was making bossanova, Brazilian-inspired music. I was experimenting with different things and I still am, and we still are. But what we found together is something we really love.
How would you describe your sound together?
Tucker: I feel like it varies by song and mood and month and the world around us. Sometimes we’ve made songs where we’re angry and yelling and then there are some songs where we’re just having fun and dancing and happy. I don’t really like trying to define ourselves.
How did you write ‘”Drinkee”?
Sophie: That was the first time I ever held an electric guitar—Tucker’s idea.
Tucker: She was really great on acoustic and I was like, This would be really sick. I had reference tracks in mind that were interesting, house-y, with electric guitar stuff and I was like, What if you try this? So we grabbed a friend’s guitar and she played that riff.
Sophie: Pretty immediately.
Tucker: Yeah, and we made that song. That was the first song we ever did together, really. It was a couple days before graduation.
When did you first realize the song was blowing up?
Tucker: Like a year and a half later. We didn’t release it until a year after we graduated. It was such an odd build, that song. It’s still getting big in some countries and it’s over in some countries.
Sophie: I would say the GRAMMY nomination was the moment when we were really like, What? Excuse me?
Tucker: I wouldn’t even say the Apple commercial at first because that was so early, we were still like, this is really crazy and maybe we’ll be able to pay rent, but we don’t know if this song is going to be a really big song or not. Still, compared to some it’s not. But for us it became pretty big and in some countries it became really big [“Drinkee” went gold in Italy and charted number two in Turkey].
What was your favourite GRAMMYs moment?
Tucker: The red carpet.
Sophie: Me too. It was definitely a surreal moment.
Tucker: The step-and-repeat [the red carpet media photo opp] was crazy.
Sophie: And everyone’s yelling.
Tucker: They’re like, “Look to your right! Over here! Over here!”
Can you fill us in on what goes on during commercial break?
Tucker: They played performances from old GRAMMYs on the big screen, kind of low, and people would either go to the bathroom or…
Sophie: …get their makeup done.
Tucker: Some really famous people would have their teams run up to them and touch them up and then run off before the commercial ended.
Tucker: Like five people. It was crazy.
Your new music video for the song “Johnny” was released on International Women’s Day and features some kick-ass-looking ladies. What was the inspiration behind it?
Tucker: We partnered with a friend of ours, BEX, who was the director. She was already making this fashion film and she was actually using our song “Johnny” as inspiration. We were having trouble figuring out exactly how we wanted to do the video and we saw her film and we were like, wait…
What was the significance of it being released on International Women’s Day?
Sophie: The video featured some women that were being pretty bold and unapologetic and acting in a way that sometimes boys are allowed to get away with and girls are not. They’re not allowed to pick their wedgie and celebrate each other—be loud. So we were really excited to celebrate that attitude and sass.
You say on your Instagram that you like to embarrass each other in interviews. What’s the most embarrassing thing you know about one another?
Tucker: When she’s getting ready for the show, she has these [breathing exercises] that she’s learned that are real goofy and she mixes them with yoga. She’ll be on the floor, yoga-ing, with a big straw in her mouth going like [breathing short breaths]. I’ll just look over and be like, what the fuck? If you saw it, you’d know why it’s embarrassing.
Sophie: Tucker will relate everything to a dick joke. Everything.
Tucker: That’s not embarrassing. That’s supposed to be embarrassing?
What’s your fave dick joke?
Tucker: Oh, I’m like a 12-year-old. We just got to the airport and we were at door D and our tour manager was on the phone like, “oh, you can swing by door D—d as in…” and I was like “DICK!”
Any upcoming projects you’re excited about?
Who are you most excited to see?
Sophie and Tucker: Lorde!
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