The Chainsmokers are a couple of self-described “frat bros” with a penchant for producing chart-topping singles and delivering stadium-rousing DJ shows. And when we say chart-topping singles, we mean it. To date their music has been streamed 1.5 billion times. A staggering amount. And they’ve done it largely by collaborating with guest vocalists.
The Chainsmokers are Alex Pall and Drew Taggart and they have tapped into a streaming generation that’s looking for something a little bit more meaningful than one-dimensional EDM. Their tracks are full of emotion, shiny melodies, incredibly hooky vocals, and then festooned with all the trappings of the latest buzz genres — be it trap, future bass or dubstep.
They’re a strangely conflicted duo, though. On the one hand they’re happy to poke fun at dance music with 2014’s massively annoying, yet cleverly satirical, ‘#SELFIE’. But now they’re making tracks about feels, especially so with their latest, ‘All We Know’, featuring hotly-tipped vocalist Phoebe Ryan. Despite this strange dichotomy, it’s working for them — the duo are as popular as they’ve ever been, as evidenced by their reappearance in the Top 100 this year, they’ve yet to release an album, and they’ve just made the front cover of Billboard Magazine.
Their track ‘Closer’ featuring Halsey is set to be one of the most successful tracks of 2016. And from afar it’s because they’ve made good decisions; the double threat of using lyric videos, and choosing really compelling guest vocalists, have all been really good ideas. ‘#SELFIE’ was in the past. They really seem to know what they’re doing now. If pop superstardom is what they want, they’re in the fast lane, and when it’s happening to a couple of frat bros with plenty of New Yoik swagger it’s going to be an entertaining ride. ANDREW RAFTER
What have been the new frontiers for you this year?
“Well, we have been lucky enough to have had some great success with our records, so for us it's just been about becoming the artists we want to be and have self-realization about the art we want to make.”
Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art-form?
“Absolutely, and on the contrary there will be plenty of people that say it isn’t. There will always be two sides to anything, same goes for any other genre.”
What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?
“'Exhale' by Output... because it's a really quick and easy way to add cool vocal presence to our music.”
If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
“Probably full-blown emo pop music. We grew up on Blink 182 and Taking Back Sunday and bands like this, and the way they compose their songs and lyrics — we are obsessed.”
As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?
“We are way too self-deprecating to put a price on ourselves.”
What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?
“Hmm, well knowledge is power, so teaching the youth about the importance of being responsible and knowing what you are taking. We feel like most deaths probably stem from making poor, uneducated decisions...”
How can we increase diversity in dance music?
“We don't think it's some matter of affirmative action — slowly and surely things are changing and it's without a doubt a good thing. Obviously certain people have better access to laptops and technology, and that obviously leads to bigger questions about funding and education.”