Sofi Tukker Found a Deeper Connection With Fans During the Pandemic

Sofi Tukker's Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern
Sofi Tukker's Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern Photo by Vaness Vlandis
Calling over Zoom from their pad in West Palm Beach, Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern sit side-by-side in a sunlit room that matches their cheery demeanor on this Monday afternoon. Light fills the pastel-hued space adorned with plaques celebrating their achievements — most notably their gold record for their 2017 single "Best Friend."

That's because, as Sofi Tukker, the duo has gotten crowds moving with its pop-tinged brand of dance music. Early in their career, the pair got lumped into the EDM genre that was quickly coming down from its early 2010s high.

"I actually think we came after the EDM bubble — we haven't been around that long," Hawley-Weld says with a slight smirk. "We've seen articles that describe us as EDM, but I don't get it. I get that it's electronic and it's dance and it's music, but what people associate with EDM has never been what we make or what we are inspired by."

"I think it's a semantics thing," Halpern adds. "People who aren't in the dance-music world might just throw the 'EDM' term out to anyone who makes dance music or DJs."

Sofi Tukker prefers to think of its sound as house-inspired — one that's laced with tight instrumentation and expertly crafted hooks. That's not entirely surprising, considering Hawley-Weld comes from a singer-songwriter and jazz background, and Halpern was producing and DJ'ing long before they met.

And while the pair are expert DJs — moving in unison behind the decks so smoothly that you wonder if it's choreographed — from time to time, they put on a live show as well.

Crowds will get plenty of the former when Sofi Tukker lands at Hyde Beach on Friday, September 3, helping kick off the Labor Day weekend. Still, the duo is known to sing during sets, adding to the festive energy Hawley-Weld and Halpern are known for.

"It's a DJ set, but we're performers," Hawley-Weld offers.

"Expect to have fun and let loose," Halpern says. "We're always lucky that we have great people [at our shows.] It's not a toxic environment."

The goodwill Sofi Tukker has amassed comes from years of hard work, something that the pair carried on during the last 17 months. In 2020, the duo released three singles and kept a rigorous streaming schedule in an effort to stay connected with fans.

While many acts lamented the loss of in-person contact with fans, Hawley-Weld and Halpern saw it as an opportunity to former a deeper bond.

"In some ways, we felt more connected this past year because we started livestreaming on the first day of lockdown," Hawley-Weld says. "We did it every single day, and the community that built around the livestream really felt like we were all in this together."

Sofi Tukker engaged with the community, dubbed the Freak Fam, in new ways — like filming a music video with its input and starting a 24-hour Zoom room and popping in unannounced.

"Releasing new music during this time really felt communal, which is kind of crazy," Hawley-Weld says.

Adding to the communal feeling was the fact that every single Sofi Tukker released in 2020 — along with two so far this year — was a collaboration. During a time when most of the world was feeling isolated, Sofi Tukker worked with Gorgon City on "House Arrest" and Icona Pop on "Spa." Then the duo kicked off 2021 with its Alok-and-Inna-assisted track "It Don't Matter."

"We weren't intentionally like, 'Let's only put out collabs right now,'" Halpern says. "We were basically were making music over the pandemic and making an entire album as well, and there are going to be a lot of only Sofi Tukker songs on there. A lot of songs we were making with friends and artists we admire, and we were like, 'This is a good time to put it out.'"

While the duo isn't ready to reveal any details about the follow-up to 2018's Treehouse, beyond saying an announcement is forthcoming, Sofi Tukker is dropping its latest collaboration with John Summit, "Sun Came Up," tomorrow. The single pairs a hypnotic melody and Spanish guitar work, while Hawley-Weld's breathy vocals effortlessly glide over the track, adding to its globetrotting mystique.

That getting-lost-in-the-beat feeling is something Sofi Tukker does really well and is even evident in the duo's remix work. The pair has reworked tracks for Billie Eilish and Katy Perry, but the remix for Lady Gaga's "911" might be just its most iconic — in more ways than one.

"Gaga is legendary," Halpern says, adding that they'll only take on a remix project if they feel like they can improve and add a new twist to the track.

"If we are only going to make it worse, there is no point. Usually, I listen [to the track] and sort of think, 'OK, where we can make this a little 'housier'? Where can we make this more Sofi Tukker feeling?'"

As is evident from everything Sofi Tukker has accomplished in the past year, everything the pair touches is an improvement.

Sofi Tukker. 10 p.m. Friday, September 3, at Hyde Beach, 1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-455-2990; Tickets cost $30 via
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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran