Sometimes you get an earworm, a song stuck in your head, and it’s absolutely maddening. Sofi Tukker’s latest sticky single F**k They has been in my head for days, and I’m not even mad. It’s an infectious anthem calling out so-called societal standards, and standing up and standing out in a world that seemingly prefers conformity to self-expression. Who the f**k wants that though!? “Who’s they anyway?” They/societal norms and expectations that creep into our everyday interactions inspired their anti-establishment anthem, reinventing and repurposing the ’90s rave hey day for a new generation to do what you please and f**k everything else ideology.
Fresh off the energetic power of their new single, the New York-based tropical dance duo (imagine Wes Anderson meets Cirque du Soleil) brought their sound to Lollapalooza over the weekend. The two artists were originally making music separately but infused their styles to create an all-new sound, a sound that has worldly elements and uniting capability – perfect for 21st century counter-culture sensibilities. Pride flags aplenty and positive vibes throughout the turned up turnout, they performed one of their first songs Drinkee, which was nominated for a 2017 Grammy for Best Dance Recording and adapted from a poem by Brazilian poet, Chacal. Sophie studied Portuguese, and we find a lot of the romance language woven through the fabric of their music, enhancing and separating their sound from some contemporaries. Sensual and thoughtful, much like their entire Soft Animals EP, Drinkee was sung graciously with the guitar riff becoming a chorus chant among the crowd. Love. Pride. Sofi Tucker. They feed off of each other perfectly, and the crowd fed off of that connection.
The grace is accompanied by a sense of angst and authoritative questioning, as evidenced by a snippet from their set on the BMI stage Sunday, as they introduced one of their newer songs, a protest aimed at 45:
Sophie: “Song called Greed, we put it out on Presidents’ Day.”
Tucker: “It’s about our stupid-ass president.”
We sat down with the duo for a fun conversation prior to their sets, yes plural, at Lollapalooza 2017 and got an inside look at what makes them go, keeps them going, and propels them into the future…
Closing the BMI stage this year, how does that feel?
Sophie: Really good.
S: Really cool.
T: We saw the schedule and couldn’t believe it. Wow, we’re playing at SEVEN O’CLOCK at Lollapalooza…
You guys met at Brown, how did you decide there that you’d be making music together?
S: We weren’t really friends at Brown. We didn’t know each other until our senior year. I was playing in a minute jazz band, playing acoustic, bossa nova inspired music. Tucker was DJing the same show, came early and saw us play, thought it was good but really boring.
T: It was really slow and boring, but it was amazing. I thought this could be fun if it was remixed and dancy and worldly, like mesh our vibes. And we ended up working together ever since. I convinced Sofi to move to New York with me right after we graduated, and we went for it.
S: I was at Brown and had a fellowship to go to Brazil, and I was all set and ready to go back to Brazil.
T: I was like, “Nope!”
S: Yup. Tucker convinced me out of it, and I’m so glad that he did. Now I get to go back to Brazil under different circumstances, and it’s even better.
Did you spend a lot of time in Brazil prior to moving to New York?
S: I lived there for six months which was enough for me to just totally fall in love with it.
On the topic of Portuguese then, did you decide to sit down with us because of our name, Gozamos? Spanish: we enjoy, Portuguese slang would be an orgasm to put it lightly. People take it one way or the other.
T: I’ll take orgasm!
That kind of leads into the next question—
T: How are your orgasms?
Fantastic. Days, days long!
S: Wow! I didn’t know that! Really?
T: Like 2 seconds.
T: Very average and standard.
S: (bringing the interview back to focus) I have a book called The Extended Massive Orgasm, EMO
T: Yea maybe I should read that one.
Sounds like a good read!
Sofi Tukker is a sensual experience, evoking emotions while providing some ethereal moments. Take us through your process for creating songs…
T: It’s kind of different depending on every song. There’s no real formula. We’ve become much more streamlined now that we know each other so well. We’re so honest with each other. We really know what we want.
S: We can say when something doesn’t sound good.
T: That can slow people down, when they’re scared to be honest. If one of us loves it, we scrap it. We both have to be passionately excited about it. That’s sort of the only real metric. Our EP is called Soft Animals based off of a poem by Mary Oliver with a line: “Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” That’s not a very technical answer, but–
Your connection to poetry is prevalent in your work thus far. Tell us how you’ve become so connected to poetry and where you think the literary genre stands today…
S: I’ve kind of always been into poetry, and I don’t know if it’s because I have a short attention span–
T: Sort of like haikus.
S: Although that’s not totally true because I do like novels too. I find poetry able to get to the matter and get to the truth really poignantly. And I’m an emotional person–
T: She’s not lying.
S: I feel really affected by poetry in a way that no other kind of writing affects me. It’s a form of writing that lends itself to truth that cuts through. I’m not an authority on where it stands today, but I know there are some great poets writing some beautiful poetry still.
T: Songwriters are kind of poets.
S: Poetry is also a way of distilling information. Of course a song can be a poem, but so can so many things.
T: Self-expression…which is tight.
I feel like your music, Soft Animals especially, is an audio representation of a Cirque du Soleil show. How does that comparison make you feel?
T: Cirque du Soleil, love that. Great.
S: Yea, I’ve never gotten that before. That’s a huge compliment.
T: Cirque du Soleil is amazing. They’re so beautiful, athletic, and shocking.
S: Bringing life and color.
T: Super into it, thank you.
Let’s talk about F**k They, the new single. The song is so much more powerful, sonically speaking. Was the higher energy a direction you took deliberately on this particular joint?
S: Absolutely. Once we started performing live, we realized that we really loved the high energy.
T: We wanted to push it and go harder. What we want to do every night is go fucking crazy.
S: We want to make songs that let us do that.
Will that single be a part of something bigger?
T: It is…not sure…slash…can’t say.
S: Come one, man, it’s Orgasm Magazine!
(laughs as they peace out)
This is Terry Carlton, signing off for Orgasm! Magazine. Deuces…