“Songs for Screens” is a Variety column written by Andrew Hampp, a VP at New York-based music sponsorship and experiential agency MAC Presents and former branding correspondent for Billboard. Each week, the column will highlight noteworthy use of music in advertising and marketing campaigns, as well as new and catalog songs that we deem ripe for synch use.
“Best Friend,” the group’s infectious ode to companionship featuring dance acts The Knocks, Nervo and Alisa Ueno, was selected for Apple’s September keynote, featuring the official reveal of the iPhone X. The exposure boosted streams and radio airplay interest in the song, eventually sending it to No. 5 on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Songs chart and No. 81 on the Hot 100 in February.
“There’s something about the song that feels like really good karma,” singer Sophie Hawley-Weld says over the phone on the eve of the band’s first Latin American tour. “It started from this place of love and then it just expanded, and we had our friends hop on the track. It was just all of us coming together in the spirit of friendship, which is the best part ever. The fact that it’s taken us to new levels feels good that that’s the origin.”
For its follow-up, Sofi Tukker is spreading a self-empowerment message on new single “Baby I’m A Queen,” whose Phillip Lopez-directed music video is premiering exclusively via Songs for Screens. The track previews Sofi Tukker’s newly announced debut album, “Treehouse,” out April 13 via Ultra Music.
The video pokes fun at the concept of child beauty pageants, and culminates with a raucous paint fight between Hawley-Weld, bandmate Tucker Halpern and the contestants. The song itself has been a live staple of the band’s shows for two years, which Halpern says they’ve been strategically waiting to release properly. “It felt like the right time in our trajectory and just the world in general to put it out,” he says.
And though the band never has synchs in mind during its songwriting sessions, Hawley-Weld hopes “Queen” connects with a wide audience. “It’s sending a message that I’m ready to say, ‘I’m not being belittled by default in relationships.’ It’s embracing the crazy, chaotic nature of ourselves and emotions, which is really important right now.”
Another unique facet of Sofi Tukker’s artistry is Hawley-Weld’s love of Brazilian culture, which comes through on several Portuguese-language tracks on “Treehouse,” including the group’s 2015 debut single “Drinkee.” Though not a native Portuguese speaker herself, Hawley-Weld’s knack for the dialect shines through. “I’m just in love with speaking it. It gets me so excited and so high to be speaking in Portuguese – it’s just heaven to me,” she says.
In fact, it was “Drinkee” that first taught the band about the power of the Apple effect when it was licensed for an Apple Watch commercial – before the song had even been commercially released on Spotify or the band had even hired a manager. The exposure led to other synchs for the song, as well as a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording in 2016.
“We made ‘Drinkee’ because we loved it, and we didn’t know that anybody else would love it. We knew it was something we wanted to hear and we just got really excited about it,” Hawley-Weld says. “We put it on SoundCloud and from there, Apple found it organically
It’s that song’s same boundary-breaking formula that inspired the group to round out “Treehouse” with a collection of songs that could create the same organic connections with audiences.
“It shows a lot of sides of ourselves and is all about the vibe that we’ve fostered and created and nourished over the past year and half to three years of writing songs about inclusiveness and friendship and total expression and joy,” says Hawley-Weld.