How Sofi Tukker became one of the world’s most synced acts
Sofi Hawley-Weld and Tucker Galper aren’t sure whether becoming full-time musicians is a realistic option.
Then, an email notification changes everything.
The year is 2015 and their music project Sofi Tukker is in its early stages.
It’s a far cry from 2019, where the Grammy-nominated duo just wrapped up a tour of Australia which included the regional festival Groovin The Moo.
Having released their debut album Treehouse in 2018, Sofi Tukker are about to kick off the next phase, and have recently released new single ‘Fantasy’.
If it wasn’t for that email from Apple in 2015, Sofi and Tucker might have given up the ghost.
Their track ‘Drinkee’ was selected to be synced for an Apple television commercial (Oct 2015), but the duo wasn’t convinced that the email was legitimately from the tech giant.
“[‘Drinkee’] wasn’t even out on Spotify, it was just on SoundCloud,” Tucker tells TMN.
“We got an email from Apple and we didn’t know if it was legit or not,” laughs Sofi.
That sync was a massive breakthrough for the duo, and the revenue that came in really provided a financial platform for the pair to move forward with the project.
“That [sync] is really what allowed us to pay rent and continue pursuing music as a career,” says Sofi. “So it was a huge relief. We’re really grateful.”
Success was a slow burn despite the sync, and it took some time for ‘Drinkee’ to pull Sofi Tukker into the public consciousness, particularly in Australia.
It followed a path well travelled, impacting the Shazam AU Charts (#55) in June of 2016. A month later, it impacted the iTunes Australia Chart, before radio picked up the tune.
‘Drinkee’ debuted at #78 on the TMN Hot 100 in December before going on to peak at #33 in January 2017 thanks to strong backing from major CHR stations.
Since then Sofi Tukker has become one of the most synced acts in the world.
Tracks including ‘Drinkee’, ‘Batshit’, ‘Johny’ and ‘Awoo’ have appeared in several Apple iPhone commercials, FIFA Soundtracks, commercials for McDonald’s, Ripleys and Old Navy.
Their songs have also featured in TV and films including Orange Is The New Black, So You Think You Can Dance, Gotham, Santa Clara Diet, Good Girls and Ocean’s 8.
One of their most synced tunes has been ‘Best Friend’.
“The only thing I’d say with the success of ‘Best Friend’ is who wouldn’t want to sell something about friendship,” says Sofi.
“‘Best Friend’ is an interesting one because it’s written about friendship which is a really exciting type of relationship that a lot of people get a lot of joy and fulfilment from.
“It’s not really the centre of attention that often, so that’s kind of unique and maybe that’s why that one gets used a lot.”
So why have so many of their tracks been used over and over?
Neither Sofi nor Tucker can answer that one with certainty.
“We don’t entirely know. We’re just always really psyched when syncs happen,” says Tucker. “In today’s musical climate it’s a great way to get music to people who wouldn’t necessarily hear about you otherwise.
Sofi adds: “We’re just really grateful anytime our music gets used.”
When you dive a bit deeper into the musical elements and lyrics, it starts to become clear why Sofi Tukker’s eclectic tunes perform so well over so many platforms and markets.
They occupy a space somewhere between defined genre lines, with synths and other elements of electronic music meshing with hooky guitar riffs and often, jungle vibes.
And of course, there’s the combination of English AND Portuguese lyrics, often in the same song.
“I used to live in Brazil and studied Brazilian music and Portuguese in college,” explains Sofi. “I feel endlessly inspired by the Brazillian musical culture. I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface.
“The language is so melodic and so beautiful.
“We’ve been collaborating with a Brazilian poet who’s a friend, who I met at college.”
The result is a type of music that truly has a pan-global feeling with emotion-tinged tones and timbres that feel both trapped between two worlds, and deeply representative of both.
Their 2018 track ‘Energia (Parte 2)’ features vocals by Brazilian drag queen, singer and songwriter Pabllo Vittar.
“It’s exciting to us because we’re Americans,” says Tucker.
“Even though I think my national identity is confusing, I have an American passport,” adds Sofi.
“The idea that we’re using Portuguese when a lot of people who are spreading their music internationally are using English, I think it’s a nod to the fact that English and the US isn’t the centre of the world.”