Sofi Tukker talk WET TENNIS, upcoming shows, live from CRSSD Fest [Q&A]
On the cusp of an international tour run, Sofi Tukker kicked off their first live show of 2022 by previewing songs from their forthcoming sophomore album,WET TENNIS, at CRSSD Festival on March 6. The eclectic duo’s live performance from the Ocean View stage cemented their first headlining slot at a major music festival. Although they had played the San Diego mainstay in years past, Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern were deservedly billed as festival frontrunners this year, positioned alongside the likes of Glass Animals, Four Tet, and Gorgon City.
Read Dancing Astronaut‘s interview with Sofi Tukker, executed ahead of their headlining set at Waterfront Park, below.
You both are on the brink of an international tour run. What most excited you about headlining CRSSD?
Sophie: “This is our first headlining slot at a major festival!”
Tucker: “Well, kind of, but the most exciting thing about this particular one is that we played here before. Like way lower on the bill about three or four years ago. So, to come back as a headliner? It just feels fucking good…The work is paying off!”
Who else on this year’s lineup stood out to you guys?
Sophie: “Well, the homies John Summit and Gorgon City.”
Tucker: “Yeah, we released tracks with both of them over the pandemic, so it was nice to see those dudes. Well, we didn’t get to see them, but talk to them!”
Sophie: “It was nice to feel represented yesterday [when they played].”
Tucker: “I would have also loved to see Nina Kraviz.”
What does band practice look like for Sofi Tukker; how often do you guys rehearse your live set?
Sophie: “We were just in rehearsals for the past couple of days. They’re long days, [but] they’re very fun; I have to say, I really like rehearsals.”
Tucker: “It’s not for me. That’s like practice and I like the games. I’m like Allen Iverson.”
Is it just the two of you during rehearsals?
Tucker: “No, there’s tons of people.”
Sophie: “It’s us, our crew, which is like five or six people…”
Tucker: “…Sound, lights, video, production manager, tour manager. They do more than us at rehearsals, really, ’cause [they’re] programming new songs. We’re adding three or four new songs tonight that we’ve never played before; they’re unreleased songs from the new album.”
Sophie: “[We’ll even be playing] songs we’ve had out for a while that we’ve never done before. Like we’re doing an acoustic song tonight that we’ve never done before.”
At what age did you both learn to DJ and what were your first controllers?
Sophie: “Oh, shit. I was so much older. You can go first.”
Tucker: “I wasn’t young compared to a lot of people. I played basketball in college and I got sick my junior year, so I was probably 22. When I stopped playing basketball, I started producing music and fell in love with that. I fell in love with dance and house music, and then I started trying to make it myself. So, DJing? Not until I was a senior in college. I started on TRAKTOR and then I had a friend, who was this crazy party animal at Brown, who lent me his CDJs for an entire semester. Then I started working, like every morning I’d wake up, not go to class, and DJ.”
Sophie: “I learned a couple years ago on Tucker’s CDJs.”
Tucker: “Sophie got really good at the DJS-1000, which is kind of like a remixer…it syncs up with the mixer and everything. She started doing some crazy sampling and sequencing.”
Sophie: “So I’ll do stuff like that. I can play the guitar, and then I’ll sample the guitar and loop it. And I can do whatever I want over the tracks; I can put it in the right key, or whatever.”
Tucker: “She does DJ too, but sometimes I get in the zone and I’m like ‘fuck…'”
Sophie: “And I’m like, ‘Tucker, let me mix!'”
How much of WET TENNIS do you plan to perform tonight and at your shows leading up to its release in April?
Sophie: “So, we only have two live shows until the release of WET TENNIS. This is one of them and then Ultra is the second one. So these two shows are really, really special because of that.”
Tucker: “They’re really the only [shows] that we’re previewing the album at.”
What’s your personal favorite track on the new record and why?
Tucker: “It’s a song we won’t be playing tonight for me.”
Sophie: “What, ‘Summer In New York'”?
Tucker: “Yeah, it’s too special. We can’t play it until it comes out. We started the band in New York, and we lived there for like the first three years. Then we started touring so much that we left. Over the pandemic, we were just missing [New York] so much. And we were so inspired that we just put ourselves in a day in the life in New York and wrote a song about it. We loved the song so much that we literally went [back] and got a house there. I feel like our whole lives are built around the dream of this song.”
You guys pride yourselves on collaborating globally, which must account for some of your massive international appeal. What countries are you most looking forward to touring in 2022?
Sophie: “Brazil, for sure. Hands down. We haven’t been there in four years, and it’s really about time. It’s the source of a lot of inspiration for me and for us. And not being there is torture to the soul. That’s a very dramatic way of putting it, but I need to be in Brazil.”
Tucker: “It’s interesting because so many people make the US the center of the world in entertainment and music. And when we started, our music [first] got big in other countries, so [we were doing really well] in Brazil, Turkey, and Italy when no one gave any fucks in the US…and it was due to Sophie! She lived in Brazil and speaks Portuguese. The first two songs we put out have no English words in them. It was sort of crazy that it wasn’t even the collabs that started that, but the collabs have been really fun to keep that [global] feel…Other parts of the world are just as important.”
Sophie: “Those first two songs were in Portuguese, but the places they got the biggest in were Turkey and Italy. And that’s wild! We would go to these places where English isn’t the first language, Portuguese isn’t the first language, but everyone is singing the Portuguese words to our songs. It’s so cool to see the world get smaller like that.”
Your AirPods are in on noise-cancelling mode while flying to your next gig. What are you listening to?
Tucker: I don’t like noise-cancelling mode. It fucks me up. I like to know my surroundings; if someone’s trying to come up on me, I have to be ready! But I’d be listening to Stromae; that’s my favorite artist. And we haven’t heard his new album yet! It came out like two days ago and I haven’t had time.”
Sophie: “I know! Who are we?”
Tucker: “Losers. Idiots. He’s so good, god damn.”
Sophie: “I would be listening to Stromae’s new album as well.”
Tucker: “We don’t agree on [other] music that often, to be honest. But when we do agree, it’s Stromae.”
You’ve worked with John Summit, ZHU, Lady Gaga, Icona Pop, Gorgon City, and so many other highly renowned acts. Is your dream collaboration still out there?
Sophie: “Stromae, yes.”
Tucker: “For sure it’s out there. Stromae.”
Featured image: Felicia Garcia