Get ready to dance.
Get ready to dance. Shervin Lainez

It’s pretty rare that a band’s first song gets nominated for a Grammy, but the New York-based duo Sofi Tukker did it with their debut single “Drinkee.” Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern (hence, Sofi Tukker) make house-inspired, Portuguese-infused jungle pop that is guaranteed to make you dance your ass off anywhere.

And, if you’re going to Bumbershoot this weekend, you’re in for a treat. Sofi Tukker play the Mural Amphitheatre on Saturday night, and speaking from experience, you won’t want to miss it. Since their flagrant use of "fuck" is just how we like it here at The Stranger, I hopped on the phone with the Grammy-nominated duo to curse a bit more with the two of them.

I know you two met at Brown University, how’s the music community there?

Sophie: Brown is a really cool place for creativity in general, and there's also a whole department just dedicated to electronic music. When we were there, it certainly it seemed like it was really thriving. There were so many people making new instruments, and I even took a class called the Electro-Acoustic Improv Ensemble. Tucker and I also made a class together—we wrote the syllabus and then it basically was just us working together and making music. Brown created space for us to do that. There was mentorship along the way, and there was the infrastructure to do it. People around us were making really cool electronic music, so it was really an inspiring place to start our story.

I have to ask, did you go to the Grammys? How was it?!?

Tucker: Yeah, we went. It was crazy! The whole thing was so surprising and shocking that we were nominated, we had to go. Fuck it. It was crazy, the red carpet was probably the wildest part. We were just like... on there with a pregnant Beyoncé and John Legend. It was just like, what are we doing here?

How did “Fuck They” and “Greed” come about? Do you get a lot of hate, or is it more about channeling anger?

T: We don't get that much hate, to be honest. “Fuck They” is more about people in our lives and that we see in the world in general that don't let us or other people just be themselves. Not that they don't let us— we do what we want, but the whole point is just... why? It’s just basically about those people who literally don't let you be yourself. Like my basketball coach in college—we didn't see eye to eye at all, and he didn't like that I had other interests and that I dressed weirdly. He didn't like that, and he tried to stop it. I don't like those people [laughs].

S: “Fuck They” comes up in so many ways every single day. It's become a part of our vocabulary with our friends, too. In so many conversations someone will be like, ‘Yeah, you know they said I shouldn't really hang out with this person because this, this and this and like, fuck they!’ It just keeps becoming really fun to use that vocabulary as a way to just say, "do whatever."

T: I gave a guy who tours with us shit for wearing a scarf the other day in really hot weather, and then I had to call myself "they."

“Fuck They,” one of a few singles you've released this year, are these off of an upcoming release?

S: No comment! [laughs]

T: We can't really say what this body of work is going to be, but we are gonna keep releasing singles in the short term... but there is a body of work that is finished that we are excited about.


How does the book tree work and is it as fun as it looks to play?

T: It's not fun to carry it around the world, but it is fun to hit on stage. It's actually books around a big, aluminum, 5-foot diameter circle, held up by a stand that was initially made as a photography light. There's contact microphones in each book, and they're connected to the computer through a MIDI converter. So every time you hit a book, it’s triggering a sample, so we can make it play anything, basically. Each song has different samples that it plays, and that's pretty much how it works.

How does a show at a venue differ from one of your festival sets?

S: It's so different. Outside Lands was definitely the biggest one we've ever done. I think we realized that what we really want to do is create the intimacy and connection that we feel when we're at a venue in all sizes of crowds. In order to do that we have to have some different tactics. We literally have to take up more space than our physical bodies, and we have to reach out in a different way. It's exciting to us because I think it's definitely possible to feel connected and intimate with any number of people. It's a different skill set that we're learning.