A good playlist can be inspired by any number of things — heartbreak, road trips, Taylor Swift surprise songs. But a flavor? That’s a bit more conceptual.
If anyone was up for the challenge, however, it’s Sophie Harley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, the musical duo behind Sofi Tukker, who this summer alone have played festivals across the globe from Exit Festival in Serbia to Lollapalooza in Chicago. To stay hydrated and hyped through it all, they have teamed up with Liquid I.V. to curate three summer playlists inspired by the brand’s hero Hydration Multiplier Flavors: Lemon Lime, Passion Fruit, and Strawberry. The mixtapes are taking on the real world, with a Liquid I.V. Remix Station popping up at Bonnaroo, Rolling Loud, and Outside Lands, where festival attendees can hit interactive recording booths to remix songs from the playlists and keep up hydration levels with product samples.
Here, Halpern and Harley-Weld talk how they made playlists inspired by flavors, their favorite festival memories, and more.
How do you guys prepare for a festival? Do you think about the festival itself based on the area and the rest of the lineup?
Tucker Halpern: It is interesting. It depends on if we're doing a DJ set or our live show. Our live show is a little more like you're set on the set list because you're performing a concert. And then a DJ set, it's a little more malleable. We can kind of be like, “Oh, the crowd is not feeling this kind of right now.” When we go to Stockholm, for instance, people love singing along with songs. It's the home of pop music, so all people want to do is sing. Underground dance music is not really a thing there, but if you go to Berlin, no one is trying to sing a pop song. They just want to get hit in the face.
Sophie Hawley-Weld: Hit in the face, metaphorically.
Do you have a get-out-of-jail-free song that always hits?
Harley-Weld: It really depends on the country and the context.
Halpern: For us, we can always play “Drinkee” or “Purple Hat” and it kind of pops.
In the same vein, how do you guys build a playlist off of a flavor, as you did for Liquid I.V.? How do you conceptualize that?
Harley-Weld: Basically, we decided to split it up by mood and color. For us, the Lemon Lime was the zingy, energetic kind of vibes, where we put our harder-hitting tracks and the ones that we would use in more peak moments. And then Strawberry was more our mellow type of track. And then Passion Fruit was a little bit of a mixture.
Halpern: We think in color a lot, so it was fun to try to think in flavor because it's similar, but it's a little different. I think especially when you make these Liquid I.V.s, the strength of the flavors come through a little differently, so then trying to put that into music was interesting.
When you're making playlists, since everyone's doing things on shuffle these days, are you still in the mixed tape mindset where it's like, this should be listened to all the way through? And how much does the first song count?
Halpern: I think the first song counts a lot. Overall though, I think most of it is shuffled, so I don't think it matters. When I used to make burned CDs for my friends, that mattered so much, the order. And same in a DJ set, it really, really matters the journey. I don't think it's that as much for this, but the first song definitely matters because people will always look at the very top and be like, “Am I into this vibe?”
What is an instant playlist killer?
Halpern: I think it depends on the person. My instant playlist killer would probably be somebody's favorite song.
Harley-Weld: I like songs where you have to lean in and they pull you in and they slow down.
What is the most surprising song you added to one of these playlists?
Halpern: I think one song that people always get surprised about is this Swing Tropkillaz remix. They're this Brazilian funk duo that makes fire ass-shaking music.
Harley-Weld: Anytime we play it in our set, it takes a sharp left turn. And everyone is like, "I can't believe we're going there and we're so happy to be going there."
Halpern: It's just different than most of the stuff, although we've been making stuff more leaning towards this lane lately.
Harley-Weld: Something very ass to the floor.
Does your pre-show ritual change for a festival versus one of your headlining shows?
Harley-Weld: I like to keep it pretty consistent, honestly. It's like warm up my body, warm up my mind, warm up my voice, and get ready.
Halpern: We start basically an hour and a half before we have to go to stage and Sophie will do her vocal warmups. And then about an hour before, we start working out and we both do proper workouts, get a full sweat going, get all our muscles firing so that we're ready to go right from the beginning.
How are you staying hydrated throughout this?
Harley-Weld: Actually, this is a fun fact: I'm probably the quickest drinker you will ever meet. I drink a lot of water and Liquid I.V. helped a lot with that. Plain water sometimes just doesn't hit the same way. I'm pretty consistent overall of just constantly drinking. I know you can't drink too much water, but I say too much in the sense that then I have to pee right before the set.
Halpern: We'll be side stage, they're about to count us in and she'll be like, "I have to pee." And we do not have time. The festivals will not wait.
Harley-Weld: I think only one or two times have I left a DJ set because it's longer than a live show because I had to pee. But I've done it. I'm like, "Sorry Tuck, I got to go."
Halpern: We do have Liquid I.V. on our rider, so every time we get into a green room anywhere, every day, we just pop one in and make it and it does refresh you immediately.
What are your preferred flavors?
Halpern: For me, Lemon Lime all day, I'm like an OG. I love it.
Harley-Weld: There’s one that has matcha in it, and that one is naughty.