One on One with Sofi Tukker

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photo credit: Bumbershoot 2017

Sofi Tukker consists of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. They made big waves with their first single “Drinkee” and the release of their 2016 EP, Soft Animals. Their sound is a unique blend of electronic, rock and more that makes for an exciting and engaging performance making them a perfect fit to join the North American leg of ODESZA’s A Moment Apart tour. I had the opportunity to sit down with Sophie and Tucker to hear their thoughts on being part of the tour and their views of Seattle.

First of all, welcome to Seattle! You two played the Crocodile earlier this year in April. Besides this show have you spent much time in Seattle?

Sophie: We as a band have only done that one show but I used to live in Victoria so I’ve come to Seattle a lot and I love it.

Tucker: The show at the crocodile was the one time I’ve been here but it was a great show. It was sold out. When you come to a city for the first time you never know what to expect and the vibe was really good.

Do you have any time in Seattle to hang out or any time at Bumbershoot to see some music?

Sophie: We actually leave tomorrow at 5am to go home to New York. We haven’t been to New York in a month and a half so we’re going to rest finally, it is really exciting.

Tucker: We get to go home for four days.

What happens after the four days?

Tucker: Ibiza.

Sophie: We are going to film a music video with a bunch of friends.

Congrats on booking the ODESZA tour. How exactly did that happen?

Tucker: I’m pretty sure what happened is someone from their team saw us at Coachella. It was a bit after that happened that our agent was reached out to and then we heard about the tour, we were like “yes please!” We are very complimented to join because ODESZA is awesome and they have a huge fan base.

What are you most looking forward to on the tour?

Tucker: Being on a bus. We’ve been touring in a minivan for over a year and a half.  You have to load in and out of the van every time you get to the venue and every time you get to the hotel. The hotel usually isn’t that nice, I’ve been driving for hours with our tour manager. Sophie doesn’t have a license, we don’t need to talk about that!

Sophie: We have also never played at venues that large before and we are really excited to do that.

Tucker: There is definitely going to be a learning curve when we are playing to a 10,000 person arena and reaching the people way up there. It is much different than when we play headline shows where there are 1,000 people at the most.

Who are poets Chacal and Mary Oliver, don’t they hold some importance to Sofi Tukker?

Sophie: Chacal is the Brazilian poet that we collaborate with in a lot of our Portuguese music and he is the dude, I love hm.  I met him when I was studying at Brown University. We were doing a collaboration together and we just kept working together when Tucker and I formed the band. He is sending us poetry all the time for us to work with. Mary Oliver is one of my favorite American poets. Our EP, Soft Animals, is titled after one of her poems called “Wild Geese.” She says

“You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.”

That is kind of like our guiding principle.

What is your connection to Maggie Rogers? You covered “Alaska” on Triple J and brought her out for “Awoo” at Firefly and Outside Lands.

Tucker: Maggie was high school best friends with Sophie’s college best friend.

Sophie: So therefore, Maggie and I became best friends. We were planning on living together before either of our bands started and then they both started at a similar time. It has been amazing to have a friend to talk through it all with. We just talked on the phone yesterday and we had an emotional conversation. It is just so great to have this support system. There are a lot of weird life changes that happen in the life of a touring artist. It is really fun to be able to talk about it with someone who is so wonderful.

I really appreciate the incorporation of live instruments into your sets. Did you initially just use samples or has it been live instruments since day one?

Tucker:  We’ve always used live instruments. The first song we ever did was “Drinkee” which is essentially based around a guitar riff. It was always our intent to have a lot of live percussion. Well it wasn’t even really that intentional. We were just always making the music that we wanted to hear and what we wanted to hear always had this mix of minimal house music, raw White Stripes style guitar vibes, folk music and poetry. This is just how it turned out and it has been really fun because we get to play instruments on stage. It is just the two of us so obviously we don’t play everything but we are fine with that.

Sophie: It is more important for us to connect with the audience and with each other than it is to make sure we are playing every single part in the song. At first, we were really trying to do everything and it really took away from the ultimate goal which was to feel connected.

Do you think you’ll ever have a live drummer on stage?’

Sophie: No way. I think we would add dancers before we added a drummer. We saw Die Antwoord last night and that was a huge inspiration for us. They are so interactive and you are just watching the music happen through these people’s bodies and that is what we would love to move towards.

Tucker: They are putting on a show and embodying the music in their physical movement, attitude and costumes.

Sophie: We want our shows to be like a rave performance art concert.

You use this tree of sample pads in your live shows. What is this and what was the inspiration behind this?

Tucker: We call it The Book Tree. The inspiration was to find a way for us to physically embody the music and perform it and be big with our movements and not look down over a sampler. It plays different samples for each song and each pad on the book tree is an actual book. We cut out the insides and put a contact microphone in them so it is basically a giant MIDI controller.  I play with drum sticks and Sophie plays with drum sticks in a couple songs too. The point of it was to just do something different.

Sophie: And we love the idea of it being a natural environment on stage. We eventually want our stages to look like a real forest.  

What is more fun, a DJ set or a live performance?

Tucker: Live show. The connection during a live show has a different depth to it. But, I’ve also had some of the best moments of my life DJing. If the crowd is there, whether it is a live or DJ set, and it is all working and connecting, both experiences are my high.

Since your release of Soft Animals in 2016, you have released 3 new singles: “Johny”, “Greed” and “Fuck They.” What can fans expect from you in the last months of 2017?

Sophie: Many more singles. We are going to be releasing one very, very soon and we have a ton of new music we are just sitting on.

Tucker: We also just made a lot of new stuff this month. It is hard, you just want to put it all out.  Throughout the ODESZA tour we will be releasing songs and into 2018 we will be releasing new songs too. We will probably just forever be putting stuff out.

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