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Show must go on: Sofi Tukker brings live performances online

Alums Hawley-Weld, Halpern perform, engage with fans daily on Instagram Live

“It's important to lean on friends, lean on music and lean on us for once a day,” said Tucker Halpern ’14 before he turned toward his DJ set to perform a remix of “Lean on Me,” originally by Bill Withers, with musical partner Sophie Hawley-Weld ’14 on an Instagram Live stream April 8. For the last 28 days, the two musicians that make up German American musical duo Sofi Tukker have stayed connected with their fans in this way, bringing old tunes and new renditions to an online audience from their living room.

The alums created their electronic-dance-music group in their senior year at Brown. After gaining recognition through a number of commercial features, they have gone on to receive two Grammy nominations and appeared at Coachella for two consecutive years, The Herald previously reported

Their daily self-isolation series was “honestly started by accident” — Halpern was DJing when the duo’s co-creator and friend Squid Spelman suddenly decided to livestream it, Hawley-Weld wrote in an email to The Herald. Since that day, they have maintained this routine, experimenting with a variety of musical genres to keep the sets interesting and different.

“We've been playing brand new edits, we've been improvising (with Hawley-Weld) singing different poems on top of minimal techno tracks, we've had some days dedicated to different artists and eras. It's been really fun to experiment,” Halpern wrote. 

After struggling with technological difficulties and poor video clarity for the first 10 days, Sofi Tukker has now upgraded their equipment to provide more enhanced sound and visual qualities to their live audiences. Although they are not able to interact with their viewers in the same way that they can when performing on stage, the duo has still been “feeling and adapting” to this new, virtual vibe and checking the comments left by listeners after their live streams.


 There, they have been pleasantly surprised “to see people interact with each other on the live stream” during self-isolation. 

Aside from watching their live streams, Cricket McNally ’22 has also been enjoying short videos of the artists on the video-sharing platform TikTok. “They have a lot of personality in their videos, so they’re very fun to watch,” she said. 

For the duo, the daily routine of live streaming has helped them remain creative and active during self-isolation. Despite canceling their spring tour — which would have brought them to Boston April 2 — due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sofi Tukker has been busy sharing and creating new music. 

“It's wild how many people are tuning into live streams and it really brings us so much joy to be able to still connect, in a totally different but still really meaningful way,” they wrote.

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