Grammy-nominated duo from New York with tropical dance bangers
IF EVERYTHING HAD GONE to plan, Sofi Tukker would never have existed. Muscle-bound DJ Tucker Halpern was destined to play pro-basketball, and vocalist Sophie Hawley-weld had a yoga teaching job lined up in Brazil. Instead, the duo have rubbed shoulders with Grimes, met a pregnant Beyoncé on the Grammys red carpet and last month played to 10,000 people in Mexico. Not bad for a back-up plan.
“It was the turning point,” says Tucker of meeting Sophie in 2013 at Brown University, Rhode Island. The previous summer, an illness put an end to his sports career. He decided to make music his life and quickly started Djing at frat parties. Sophie studied conflict resolution, taught yoga and played acoustic nights around Providence, RI. But it wasn’t until their chance encounter at a gallery opening that things took off.
“We clicked straight away,” recounts Sophie. “At first I was writing the songs and he was producing them. Then it evolved into collaborating and making them from scratch.” They moved to New York together and released their first song, ‘Drinkee’ – the Grammynominated alt-dance banger that they “didn’t really think about” until it blew up and gave them the chance to take their music global.
Adapted from a poem by Brazilian writer Chacal,
‘Drinkee’ fuses deep, driving bass with an infectious guitar hook and a Portuguese vocal. It’s earned them a legion of fans, as well as celebrity admirers such as Grimes. “Last summer we played a festival in Milan where we were on before her,” reveals Tucker. “A year later she sent us a message saying, ‘I’m a fan. I like what you’re doing. Keep it up!’”
It’s advice they’ve taken, with a new record in the pipeline and a world tour booked. “Even on our days off we go into the studio,” says Sophie. “We want to do this for the rest of our lives.” Luckily for them, that looks increasingly likely.