The duo chat with Billboard’s Pop Shop Podcast about the Euro inspiration behind their new single, working with Bomba Estereo & more.
Back in 2017, dance duo Sofi Tukker played Coachella for the very first time, worried if people would even show up.
"We played at 3 in the afternoon, so we were hoping people would show up early, 'cause it's like a billion degrees, so we’re like, ‘Who is going to stand out in the sun for this?’" Tucker Halpern tells Billboard's Pop Shop Podcast (full interview embedded below). "We were really pleasantly surprised that we had a packed tent both weekends and it was one of our highlights of our career, still."
This weekend, they return to play the festival a second time — and they should be prepared for a larger crowd this go-round, considering the success of their debut album, 2018's Treehouse, and its breakout single "Best Friend," featuring Nervo, The Knocks and Alisa Ueno. During the interview, the pair promised a "whole new live show" at the back-to-back festival weekends, and as they make new music, they've been thinking about massive crowds like the ones awaiting them in Indio, Calif.
"The next wave of music is all a little more epic and a little bigger," Sophie Hawley-Weld says. "We’ve just been playing bigger and bigger shows. We get to these stages and we want to have a certain type of experience with these audiences, and so we wanted to make songs that felt right in that context, with a sea of people, waving their hands back and forth."
One of those songs is their new single "Fantasy," which was released late last month and will be right at home in the wide-open spaces of the Empire Polo Club grounds. "I think this song really stems from my love of early 2000s Euro dance music," Halpern says. "Sort of a genre that I think gets a bad rap. Secretly everyone loves it, I think. We sort of wanted to use that as a little bit of inspiration and tried to bring that to now and to us."
Reminiscing on Euro dance music, Halpern remembers that "some of those songs were really epic and beautiful. You can just really scream and sing it out while dancing. I feel like a lot of times nowadays, there’s a song you can dance to or a song you can sing to, but having them together is a really good feeling."
Another song the Pop Shop team got a chance to hear but hasn't been released just yet is called "Swing," which is "something bigger," Halpern teases. "It hits much harder and feels like an epic battle feel." (We have a feeling the Coachella crowd might get a taste of it this weekend.)
It makes sense that Sofi Tukker is going bigger and more epic with their music, considering the evolution of their career. "When we started making music, our first EP, we made [it] before we'd ever done a live performance ever," Halpern says. "That was just really, like, 'What do we want to hear while hanging out in a room?' The next one, Treehouse, we sort of made as we started touring, and we’re like, 'OK, we like to go crazy onstage, we like to use our energy and excitement and want to take it further and go a little harder.' Then we played even bigger shows and bigger festivals, and now we’re like, 'We want to talk to 40,000 people.'"
"We want to have these beautiful, connected experiences," Hawley-Weld chimes in.
"And still make it feel like it’s the initial little clubs," Halpern concludes, "and still make it feel that positivity and that we're all on one wavelength."
The pair have a slew of overseas dates and festivals in the next few months, and they plan to roll that new music out along the way. Another yet-unheard song they teased is a collaboration with a superstar international band. "We have another song coming out, this one is with one of our favorite bands in the world Bomba Estéreo from Colombia, and the song is a banger," Hawley-Weld teases. "It’s so good. I’m so excited. … I remember walking to the kitchen, and [Bomba singer] Li [Saumet] was like, 'I can't believe that we're here with one of our favorite bands.' And I was like, 'I can't believe you just said that because you're one of our favorite bands!' There was so much mutual love."
Also on the show, Keith & Katie discuss the pop-tastic Coachella lineup (Ariana Grande! Childish Gambino! Khalid! Zedd! Ella Mai!), as well as chart moves for Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish and the late Nipsey Hussle.
The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard's weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard's senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on Billboard.com.)