WET TENNIS

Sofi Tukker

WET TENNIS

In 2018, NYC-via-Florida EDM-pop eclecticists Sofi Tukker—the duo of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern—released their debut LP, Treehouse, introducing their unique approach to feel-good jungle-pop, bossa nova...hell, world music in general—fitting for the club and the outdoor festival alike. Their second LP, WET TENNIS, is largely the product of their regular livestreams during the COVID-19 pandemic, a release that continues their idiosyncratic energy. In one moment, they’re sampling Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” (“Summer in New York”) and finding inspiration in “Chic and *NSYNC,” according to Halpern (“Wet Tennis”); in another, they’re working with Turkish DJ Mahmut Orhan (“Forgive Me”) and Malian duo Amadou & Mariam (“Mon Cheri”) on a collection of borderless music. “We covered a lot more genres on this album,” Hawley-Weld tells Apple Music. “And we had to strike the balance between being honest about what we were experiencing and being optimistic. If there’s an emotional or a negative song, it’s always followed by a really hopeful one.” The message is found in the album title as well. It’s a celebration of the sport—how the duo work as a team, as if hitting a ball back and forth—a challenge of the traditional image to be more inclusive, “wet and sexy and colorful,” she says. It’s also an acronym: When Everyone Tries To Evolve, Nothing Negative Is Safe. “That’s basically the thesis statement,” Halpern says. “Which is when everyone intentionally decides to grow and evolve around any obstacles and continue to stay positive, that the negativity is not safe. You can move through it, always.” Below, Sofi Tukker walks through WET TENNIS, track by track. “Kakee” Sophie Hawley-Weld: “This song is an ode to my favorite fruit, which is the persimmon. I was obsessing over this fruit, and I hit up the Brazilian poet that we’ve worked with since the very beginning of the band. His name is Chacal. He lives in Rio, and I texted him, ‘Chacal, we really need to write a poem about the persimmon.’ He wrote this poem about persimmons that’s just totally absurd—true to form for him. And it’s just this sexy persimmon poem. It has a James Bond vibe to us. Who knows what genre that song is.” “Original Sin” SHW: “Whether or not people are religious, the idea of the original sin is actually embedded in a lot of people’s brains and psyches, whether they like it or not. I think that it can be a really harmful mentality. Part of what we try to do with [our fans] the Freak Fam—and with what we’re saying in the world—is that you are perfect as you are, with all of your mistakes and so-called sins and desires. We really just wanted to say, ‘Hey, be nice to yourself.’ To know that you’re human, and humans are full of wonderful mistakes.” “Summer in New York” Tucker Halpern: “We actually wrote the song without the ‘Tom’s Diner’ sample in it. Then we realized connecting the ideas felt really good because that’s one of the only other songs we really could think of that details an entire day, just normal things you would do. It’s also about New York, so that really did feel so good. After we finished the song, we were just obsessed with the song instantly. We got so obsessed that we realized we wanted to move back to New York, and so we actually bought a place in New York.” “Forgive Me” SHW: “At the time, I was like, ‘I don’t want to write. I’m in pain.’ And now, it’s alchemized into this thing that now really connects me with people all around the world who listen to the song and then are like, ‘Hey, I'm also going through something that feels very similar. Thank you so much for writing this song.’ It’s been so cool to experience that. And Mahmut Orhan is one of our favorite artists in the world. He remixed our song ‘Drinkee’ and then our song ‘Swing.’ His remixes are some of our favorite pieces of music. And the Turkish violin is so stunning.” “Wet Tennis” SHW: “Basically, we were in our house and Tucker, I swear, took on a completely different persona. Something overtook his body—he became somebody else, and he started singing, ‘Yeah. That’s life.’ We were just dancing around the house, singing this song in this funny character. We brought it to a bunch of musicians in Miami who are just world-class. We had the best organ player play. We had some incredible trumpet players, and the most amazing Brazilian percussionist that really added a lot of musicality to the parts.” “Interlude” SHW: “This is a palate-cleanser, the thing that separates the first half of the album from the second half. And the lyrics are actually the acronym 'When Everyone Tries To Evolve, Nothing Negative Is Safe.' It ends on ‘Maybe I don’t want to know what’s on the other side,’ and then, on the other side, is the song ‘Sun Came Up.’ It feels like you’re finishing a day and starting a new one. An exhale before dancing again.“ “Sun Came Up” (feat. John Summit) TH: “When we were livestreaming in the pandemic, we were playing a lot of John Summit music, and he was gaining popularity. We would tag him when we played his songs, and we started to talk in DMs on Instagram. We sent him the idea for this track, this demo. Within a couple hours, I swear, he sent back a new version of it. We went back and forth for a couple days. It was pretty funny because he has a party animal person, and it’s real, but the thing people don’t necessarily see is that, yeah, he might be partying all night, but he’s also up at 8 in the morning, working on the song and sending it back to us.” “Larry Bird” (feat. Tucker’s Dad) TH: “I wore 33 my whole life playing basketball. I played in college. Larry Bird was an inspiration that I always looked up to. He wasn’t the most athletic, he wasn’t the strongest, he wasn’t the most naturally gifted, but he would just dive on the floor. He would give it his all. I looked up to that a lot. And I think I’ve definitely brought that into the Sofi Tukker world. I have '33' tattooed on my hand in green. We were thinking of getting some old announcer/commentator voices off of YouTube, but then we thought, ‘You know what would be cooler? If we actually just had my dad talk about Larry Bird. We’ll record it and put that into the song.’ It felt like an amazing full-circle moment for me. And my dad is very excited to be a part of it.” “Hold” (feat. BOII) TH: “We loved the organic feel of that old sample [‘María Busca a Jesús’ by Ricardo Archuleta], and we worked on this song with this group called BOII. We started this on a tour bus maybe four years ago or something. This was the oldest song on the album. It laid the foundation for the vibe of the production and the song. And this song took many different iterations of it to finally get it to the place that feels right. It’s a really cool song about being able to love yourself before you can love other people, basically, and holding yourself and being alone and being comfortable with that.“ “Mon Cheri” (feat. Amadou & Mariam) SHW: “We got an email that said, ‘Who in the entire world would you like to collaborate with?’ And we said Amadou & Mariam. We ended up having our dream come true. And this song just feels so hopeful and optimistic and bright. And it’s about eternal love—it makes us so happy. There’s French, Bambara, [and] Portuguese on it.” “Freak” TH: “It’s punkish. It’s sort of a rock/drum ’n’ bass song. It’s confusing.” “What a Wonderful World” SHW: “Again, we are definitely playing with a lot of different genres on this album, and so I also have a dad track on this album. My dad sang this song to me when I was born. And we just really wanted to end the album on a hopeful and positive note, and it felt to us like the perfect way to do it. It’s soothing, like a savasana at the end of yoga practice. It brings you down. And you’ve just danced and raved, and now it’s time to just reflect on the fact that we’re living in a wonderful, beautiful world.”

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12