New York City DJ duo Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, aka The Chainsmokers specialize in fist pumping, blood rushing, euphoric sounding electronic, dance music. In case you’ve been buried under a rock these past couple years, you most likely first heard them on a track called “#Selfie,” a catchy club song that amplified the ‘Selfie’ to another level.
They didn’t stop there. Far from being the ‘one-hit wonder guys’, they’ve kept their name alive in the hearts of electronic dance music masses all over the world, pumping out some seriously contagious remixes with body popping bass to keep the party going on.
But you might stop to think; after all the noise about #Selfie, (good and bad) and the countless remixes you’ll hear at Hakkasan, Foam, Wonderland and Tomorrowland, what else do they have to offer? Well, Name Dropping Host/Producer, dance music man, Christian B got a chance to chat with the guys to find that out.
CB: Gents, good to speak with you both. You create some good tunes together, how long have you been friends?
“Since we started the Chainsmokers… so about 2.5 years now… we basically met to start this journey. Had a nice blind man date that a buddy suggested we do because of our interests and situations and we decided to give it a go!”
How long have you each been DJing?
“I’ve been at it for about 12 years and Drew for about 6.”
That’s a good long while, did you both start on Vinyl?
“I (Alex) did, it was fun but a royal pain! Drew started on Abelton!”
I hear you. It can take a long minute to master spinning with Vinyl, but as you know, the music sounds warmer in a club.Speaking of old school, I’m a bit of a gear head, do you guys have a favorite synth, live DJ plug-ins and a must have DAW when you’re in studio?
“We work out of Abelton… honestly we are always on the move so any Akai-midi keyboard is what we are using but we recently got a MOOG ,which sadly we cannot travel with so we don’t get to play with it enough but it’s the most amazing thing ever!”
That’s a great piece of analogue gear for sure. Do you write your own tracks and if so, how long have you been writing music and playing instruments?
“Well, we have both been involved in music our whole lives. Drew’s played pretty much every instrument out there over the course of his life and producing since he was about 17. I (Alex) on the other hand played guitar and then started DJing when I was 15… As for writing that’s something we are doing a lot more of. The idea of creating the song from its production to the vocal and eventually even singing, a la Calvin Harris like, is where we see ourselves going as we grow more confident in our skills and creativity.”
That says a lot, being that there are so many DJ’s that don’t write their own music. In fact Mat Zo ranted about the subject on Magnetic Magazine and Twitter a few months ago.
Since we’re on the subject, there are more and more wanna-be DJ’s out there, who are trying to strike it rich. Do you find it harder to succeed as a newbie DJ nowadays, or perhaps even a little easier because of Social media?
“Def think it’s a lot harder now to breakthrough. There is such a volume of work out there and there is a lot of decent music, but not a lot of great music. Social media adds lots of angles and dimensions for other DJ’s to breakthrough beyond the music, BUT it always will come back to the quality of your music”
Being that your both from the east coast which stylistically has it’s now unique sound, do you think that brings a different flavor to the studio when you’re writing a track as opposed to growing up, say on the west coast?
“Not sure if our location has had a dramatic effect on our tastes, as we both enjoyed pretty much every different type of genre of music growing up, and so we have very eclectic tastes from that experience.”
Streaming is everywhere now and a lot of music fans are still somewhat on the fence with streaming services, even thought it’s the future. What are your thoughts on the effect streaming has or will have as it gets more prevalent?
“Well, we used to have to travel to Sam Goody’s to buy our CD’s for $20 bucks… that was fun at the time, but that was expensive… The way the world is now and how accessible everything is, streaming logically makes sense. Our only fear is that there will be 20 different platforms and everything will be so fractured that there will never be a real solution.”
That leads me to the point that the music industry has been in a giant state of flux the last few years. What do you think about the current state as it stands now?
“We are no music business experts. We can say that the nature of the business can be very hostile and disadvantageous to the artists vision… but it’s a necessary evil in many circumstances, and of course it doesn’t always have to be the case. We are still learning the ropes.”
So you think there’s room for the new companies like Tidal, or the upcoming recently announced Apple Radio to succeed? Or will Spotify/Pandora/Soundcloud stay in the forefront as the Kings?
“Hahah youre asking the wrong ppl, ask our manager.”
Figured I’d put it out there to see where your heads, since many artists use some of those sites and services. “We love Jay Z, the guy is a genius and a hero of ours, we don’t foresee him entering into a space that he isn’t sure he can’t exist and do well in… and Apple as Bob Lefsetz said has the capital, the emails and the structure… Soundcloud is going to likely undergo a lot of reform and Spotify is just crushing it at the moment.”
Oh and on the subject of musical output, how do you stay on top of all the freaking music that’s out there?
“I spend a huge amount of time digging for new music… that means blogs, iTunes charts, Spotify charts, Hypem, all day every day… I love doing it, but it is time consuming, but very necessary. Guys like Diplo and Skrillex are masters of staying ahead of the status quo and being on top of this is a main reason why.”
Indeed, it’s part of doing your homework to stay on top. In your quest to learn about other artists, have you come across any new artists worth sharing that you guys are becoming fans of?
“This group Oh Wonder, Rozes, Wollfe, Great Good Fine OK, Filous all super dope!!”