The Chainsmokers: "We Just Try to Mix What's Fun"
Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers.
If you've spent anytime on Facebook recently, it's a strong possibility that any of the EDM fans, club kids, or party-monster millennials on your friends list have dropped a link in their respective newsfeeds to "#SELFIE" by The Chainsmokers, probably with comments along the lines of "ZOMG! This is soooo funny!" It shouldn't come as any surprise, given that the recently released track is not only an addicting four minutes of electro-filled dance-pop ear candy, it's also one of those song that both pokes fun at an Internet subculture (in this case, the vapidity of selfies) while simultaneously celebrating the practice.
It's also, as your aforementioned Facebook friends have ascribed, quite hilarious and has served to propel The Chainsmokers into their current status of being EDM's resident "it" act of the nanosecond. The NYC duo of DJ/producers Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart have gotten shout-outs from the likes of Rolling Stone as an up-and-coming act to watch, not to mention more than more than a million YouTube views for "#SELFIE" since its release on Dim Mak late last month.
Suffice it to say, you can expect a big crowd, who will probably engage in mass selfies, when The Chainsmokers come to Maya Day and Nightclub, on Friday. Up On the Sun recently got a chance to speak with Pall and Taggart via telephone about the track and their recent rise to success.
How are you guys doing today?
Drew: Awesome, just living the life, ya know.
When was that "ah-ha" moment for the both of you, when you knew that this is what you love and what what you wanted to dedicate your life to?
Drew: Um, I dunno. It's probably different for both of us. I think we both wanted to do what we're doing now always. I think about a year and a half ago is when we could afford to just do this. So yea, I think that's what it comes down to more. I always wanted to do what we're doing. You get your first paycheck and you're like, "wait, I just got paid to do something I actually enjoy?" Verses serving hot dogs or cleaning dog shit out of a cage.
Alex: Those are the only other jobs available.
Drew: Yea, we're actually not skilled at anything else.
What were your day jobs when you were juggling DJing?
Drew: I was in school. So I actually ended up doing this right after school. Alex worked at an art gallery. When I first met him, about a year and a half ago, and then about two months into this he quit his job.
How did you guys meet up?
Drew: We were introduced by a friend of a friend.
How did it go from just meeting each other to making music together?
Drew: I had been producing pop tracks and Alex had been DJing in New York for a while, and we figured that we make a really good team. After two months of working together, we were doing so much more together than on our own. So, it didn't take much convincing for either of us to realize that this is going to work.
So, this is a little off-topic, but do you guys have any music guilty pleasures? Maybe songs or artists that people wouldn't expect that you're into?
Drew: I really like Miley Cyrus' "Adore You" (laughs) -- not the Cedric Gervais version though.
How does the collaboration process with you two work? Do you each fall into distinct roles? Or is it equal? How do you work together?
Alex: Drew is like the producer, and I just get to sit around and watch it all happen (both laugh). So it's perfect.
Drew: Alex is one of the best artists, he has basically found every person we've remixed. Every person that we've worked with. He's like Rick Rubin, he can listen to a track and know like when something needs something, when you need to take something out. We work well together. He'll also sleep with the fat chicks, someone's got to do that.
So you're style kind of goes between progressive, with a lot of your remixes, with some of your vocal heavy tracks like "Kids" and "Goodness Gracious." Then a lot of your original stuff is more electro, like with "#SELFIE." Is that something that just kind of happens or do you guys try to mix-it-up a bit?
Alex: We just try to mix what's fun. Going forward, our original music is definitely going to sound more like our remixes. Honestly, "#SELFIE" is kind of a phenomenon for us. We made it and thought it was funny and put it out as an edit. Then Dim Mak wanted to buy it, and they bought it from us and put it our officially and we made a video for it. This was all just because we thought it was fun. And then the song just kind of took on a life of its own. Which is honestly really great because it's brought in a new audience of people that listen to music that we've made that we're more passionate about.
How did that song come to be? Was there any particular instance or person that made you want to do that?
Alex: Well, there's this girl, named Nicole, that we absolutely hate. All she does is look at herself in the mirror and say those things.
Alex: That's not true at all actually. We live in New York City, and we go out a lot. I think we're under the influence of many of these girls quite frequently. And, um, we just thought it would be funny to make this song that says "let me take a selfie," right before the drop. Then, when we actually started making the song, we were like: "wouldn't it be funny if we did like a whole verse of ridiculous things that we hear people say when we're out. Like things girls say in the lines of a club and whatever." It ended up being really relatable with a lot of people.
How do you guys make a lot of remixes, how do you go about choosing a track to do a remix to?
Alex: Just stuff that we like and have access to. When we first started, we would just hit -up a ton of artists we thought were good, or stuff we would hear on hype machine, the blogs and upcoming indie acts we thought had cool, unique vocals that wrote really good songs that no one else in our genre was going to work with or remix or anything. Those are the people we reached out to and built our sound around. Now, a lot of those artists have realized that about us and so they hit us up. But we still go out and find people that we think are doing something really unique. But yea, just stuff that we like.
So I looked at your site and you guys are touring pretty heavy through March. How do you guys juggle making music on the road? Do you do it simultaneously or do you separate studio and tour time?
Alex: We're always traveling. We have a tour poster with tour dates, but we're really traveling all of the time. It doesn't stop. I mean whenever we're home in New York City we get as many ideas started as possible. I think though, a lot of our best work has been done on the road. There's something about when you're on a plane, or in your hotel, there's only so much you can do. Which kind of prevents you from over thinking, so it actually comes in really handy.
Are you guys currently working on an album or EP? You guys haven't had a formal EP come out yet, right?
Alex: No, we haven't. We're working on a ton of original music, what format that comes out as -- singles or an EP -- we haven't decided yet.
When can people expect to start seeing those singles coming out?
Alex: We'd like to have a follow-up, original single to "#selfie," within the next two months. We obviously love putting out tons of content, but in the next two months we'll probably have four remixes come out, but the next big, original track we're going to do a solid push for, will be within the next two months.
Back to touring, what are your summer plans? Ibiza, Vegas, festivals?
Alex: Yep, we're going to be doing all of that fun stuff. We do all of the SFX stuff, so Mysteryland, probably Tomorrowland, Tomorrow World, but that's not official yet so I wouldn't put that in there. Then, Ibiza, yea. It's looking like Ibiza. Then hopefully we'll start working with some Vegas clubs late springs.
Any particular clubs you guys are looking at?
Alex: In Vegas?
Alex: Yeah, we've kind of got something in the works, but I don't want to say anything yet because it isn't official yet.
Gotcha. So I've got two more questions. The first isn't really music related. Do you have any special interests that people do not know about you? Charity? Cooking? Or things like that?
Drew: Alex loves reading Tom Clancy novels. He's literally obsessed with them. He's read every one actually. He's actually been really depressed recently because he's read every one. (Alex screams in agony). I really like playing Call of Duty. We really like outdoor sports whenever we can do them. We went snowmobiling a couple weeks ago, which was really sick.
Do you guys have anything planned for your set specifically for your set?
Drew: Fireball whiskey, a trick we do with chainsaws that we've never done before. So it's going to be really interesting. I got a new t-shirt. We're freaking excited to come. We've never been to Arizona we've only heard incredible things. This will be our first time so we hope everyone is as pumped for us to come down there as we are. We've heard Maya is really sick too. So, we're just really pumped up up and looking forward to it.
The Chainsmokers are scheduled to perform on Friday, February 28, at Maya in Scottsdale.
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