SOFI TUKKER’s Chart-topping songs and caipirinhas
In 2015, SOFI TUKKER debuted its first EP named Soft Animals. It was the first bundle of recorded work Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern released as a musical duo, and it garnered the band a Grammy nomination for the single “Drinkee.” In the years since, the band has solidified its name in the charts, with songs like “Summer in New York,” “Johnny,” and “Feeling Good” featured in HBO and Hulu shows, FIFA video games, and Apple commercials, too. Other performances at festivals like Coachella and Governor’s Ball have joined fans in person, bonding over the band’s blend of uplifting music, poetry, and a cheerful atmosphere.
This fusion is something SOFI TUKKER most recently brought from the main stage to mixology by partnering with the Brazilian company Novo Fogo. As a carbon-negative business that makes award-winning Brazilian cachaça from its zero-waste distillery, it also focuses on rainforest preservation. Today, SOFI TUKKER acts as a business partner and brand ambassador, focused on product development, innovation, social media content creation, and rainforest conservation initiatives. This year, it made stops in cities like Austin, Miami, and New Orleans to celebrate the brand’s festive spirit, bringing together people, culture, and music over tasty caipirinhas.
Part of the duo’s partnership, as well, is the launch of Novo Fogo’s Brazilian Organic Cocktails and the debut of Drinkee—a USDA-certified organic Brazilian cachaça named after SOFI TUKKER’s hit song.
Whitewall spoke with the duo about their success as a band, and how their recent roles at Novo Fogo support sustainability, creativity, and Brazilian culture.
WHITEWALL: Rumor has it that you met at Brown University during your senior years. How did that evolve into collaborating on music?
SOFI TUKKER: Soph was making bossa nova-style jazz music and Tuck was DJing house music. We were booked at the same event and Tuck came early and saw Soph play. He ended up remixing one of her songs on the spot, and the rest is history! It’s always been music first for us, but as we’ve gotten to know each other and learn from each other—we’re total opposites—we’ve become best friends.
We got an Apple commercial with our first song “Drinkee,” which helped us pay rent and stick with music as a career. Then, we started grinding by touring around the world. It has felt like a really fun and gradual growth ever since.
WW: Tell us a bit about becoming co-owners of Novo Fogo. Why was this a fit?
ST: Novo Fogo is a natural fit because we share the same loves: love of Brazil, the rainforest, and love of celebration. Tucker loves cachaça and Sophie has a Brazilian soul. It became clear to us through conversations with the Novo Fogo team that they are deeply caring people. They’re not just making cachaça. They’re conscious of taking care of people and the planet at the same time.
WW: What do you feel makes this cachaça brand unique?
ST: Novo Fogo is a deeply caring group of people that takes good care of employees, community, and the environment, as we got to see firsthand in Morretes. And together we’re making cachaça a force for good.
From the rainforest to the consumer with SOFI TUKKER
WW: What impressed you most about Novo Fogo—from being a carbon-negative company and operating in a zero-waste distillery to its assistance in rainforest preservation?
ST: The Novo Fogo team is actively thinking about the context of the environment in which the sugar cane comes from—and figuring out how to become a part of the solution rather than the problem. The Atlantic rainforest has many endangered species of trees and Novo Fogo is helping to protect the biodiversity of the area. We’re also branching outside the cachaça umbrella to include options for people who don’t drink alcohol, like Sophie, which makes the brand super unique and inclusive.
WW: What have you been working on with Novo Fogo as partners and ambassadors so far?
ST: We recently spent a week in Morretes at the distillery and got to meet everyone who works at Novo Fogo, from the people in the sugar cane fields to the distillers, and Dr. Silvia Ziller, who leads The Un-Endangered Forest™ project. We filmed a lot of content to help tell the story of Novo Fogo and everything we’re doing in the Atlantic Rainforest. And yes, we’re working on some new liquids!
WW: What are your personal thoughts on living a more eco-conscious lifestyle? Are you implementing any practices into your day-to-day lives to live more environmentally responsible?
ST: This is a really tough question and one we are constantly grappling with. We are far from perfect and far from where we want to be when it comes to personal sustainability. In part, because it’s important to us to make decisions that are both planet-conscious and human-conscious. In other words, sometimes taking care of ourselves is at odds with taking care of the planet. And sometimes it’s extremely synchronistic.
We are interested in investing in and finding more ways to find this synchronicity, like we have with Novo Fogo. We’re excited by the companies and initiatives that are working hard to make sure that the thing that is best for the planet is also what is best for humans.
A love for Portuguese culture
WW: Sophie, this collaboration is somewhat of a return to Brazil for you, as you studied Portuguese, lived in Rio de Janeiro, and have even infused excerpts of Brazilian poetry into many SOFI TUKKER songs—many with Portuguese lyrics. Tell us about your adoration for the culture.
ST: I have been really into Brazilian music for a long time, long before I even spoke Portuguese or lived in Brazil. At first, the subtlety and sensuality of bossa nova-style singing really caught my attention. It’s so intimate and feels like the singer is whispering in your ear, and the language is so naturally musical and vowel-focused. I just find that the same melody sounds better when sung in Portuguese! As I’ve gotten to know the language and the culture and place even more, the influences have become almost infinite.
WW: How did your time living in the country impact your relationship to its people, culture, and music? And now spirits?
ST: The spirit of Brazil so closely aligns with my own spirit, that’s why I say I have a Brazilian soul. In general, the culture so deeply values celebration, music, dance, sensuality, openness… all things that I naturally gravitate towards. So when I am in Brazil, I feel especially at home. The more time I spend in Brazil, the more I feel this way. I become so inspired and alive on another level just by being there, being around the music that I love so much, and the people who share the same values.
SOFI TUKKER on collaborating with poets
WW: Some of your songs reference Brazilian poetry, and even feature collaboratively written lyrics. Can you elaborate on this?
ST: We have been collaborating with the Brazilian poet Chacal ever since our first song. I met him while I was still studying at Brown University and we did a collaboration together. We still talk every week and are constantly creating together. I love his wordplay. He’s just as interested in the sounds of the words as he is in the meaning of them. He’s so clever and witty and playful. In fact, we just got to spend time together in Rio and write music. He’s a joy. We’ve also worked with some other poets including the late Paolo Leminski, whose poems I am really inspired by.
WW: You recently were on tour for your album WET TENNIS. While on the road, what rituals do you have to keep your body and mind in sync?
ST: We basically never stop touring, although we did just wrap the WET TENNIS tour and are working on the next iteration of our show. Especially because it’s nonstop, we do a lot of things to keep our bodies and minds in sync. We tour like athletes. We stay in touch with our family and friends, we work out, we meditate, we eat well, and we make sure to warm up and cool down for shows. Generally, keeping a positive environment among our touring crew is super important.
WW: How do you prefer to enjoy Novo Fogo?
ST: Tucker really enjoys passion fruit caipirinhas, and Sophie loves getting lost in nature.
WW: What are you working on in 2023?
ST: We have so much new music coming out, especially inspired by our extended time in Brazil this year. We are even working on a song dedicated to Novo Fogo and the Atlantic Rainforest. And we will be touring and playing major festivals around the world!