The Chainsmokers

August 27, 2013 12:34 PM

NYC-based DJs Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall from "The Chainsmokers" recently let TWELV dress them up and pick apart their brains. The witty duo, who have collaborated on innovative indie and pop sounds for quite some time now, offered up candid confessions about their takes on food, fashion and, naturally, their music. Read on to see why the seriously-talented musicians do not take themselves (or their online bios) too seriously.

Is there a story behind your name “The Chainsmokers”, or is it pretty self-explanatory?

There is a story, but we hate it, so we aren’t going to tell it… but it has nothing to do with smoking, we don’t smoke, and everything to do with Hugh Grant….


I am told that the story of how you met is a pretty interesting one, in a Chatroulette room. Can you tell us a little about that?

Alex: Well, Chatroulette for about 2, maybe 3, weeks was pretty popular. You would throw it on with a friend and do weird shit and meet weird people. I don’t think much came of it, now people just show their genitals on it, although my friend did meet Snoop on it. But yeah we were mutually cruising and then we just clicked and found one another, it's the most un-hetero, hetero thing to have ever happened to each of us…


I heard through the grapevine that you enjoy a good burger. Can you tell us the best place in New York City that you have found for one? 

Alex: For a cheap burger, Schnippers is good and quick. If you want to go big… Black Label Burger at Minetta.


What was the first concert that you ever attended, or album that you bought?

Drew: First album I bought was Lil Wayne "500 Degrees" and first concert was 311.

Alex: First album I bought was Snoop’s "Doggy Style" and saw Billy Joel.


How would you classify the music that you play, and what would you like listeners to take away from your performances.

Drew: Well this is tough to answer cause right now we are transitioning from playing mostly clubs thus far to playing actual shows, and there is a big difference. At clubs people want to be drunk, hook up and just enjoy more popular music, while at shows you have more freedom to play things, as people are there to see you. So we try to find a nice middle ground where we can play our music, the music we know that everyone wants to hear and then experiment with stuff in between. At the end of the day we want everyone to have a good time, that is most important to us above all, and hopefully have them leave thinking "Wow, I never heard that and I really enjoyed when they did this…" So yeah maybe if they leave with some pride, a reasonable bar tab and more love for us, that would be a good end result.


You have been credited with “the unsettling and uncanny ability to discover and create trends.” Can you tell us a little bit about that process, and what trends you see happening in the future of music?

Alex: I mean, that’s from our online bio, bios are such jokes-- they are basically hyperboles to get people stoked about you. Not that the information isn’t true but I mean we are no soothsayers. We love music and pay close attention across the board to so many genres, because we generally love so many different music types… and in doing so you can sometimes see trends and feel gaps, and particularly since we make music we are always thinking of it in the context of how it's made and who and when you can enjoy it. It's like chemistry, mix this, take that out, watch this sit, compare it to that, and sometimes you come across formulas that are beautiful and sometimes not so much. Music can be cyclical, trends can be fabricated, fame can be planned, its not anything new, but the thing that’s changing is music accessibility, and its only getting better and better.


 You have had the privilege of playing for and with some amazing talent, from Calvin Harris to Jay Z. With such a varied assortment of talent, how do you prepare for each performance?

Alex: A few tequila shots work, no more than six, no less than three.


Do you have a favorite performance or collaboration that stands out in your mind?

Drew: Playing the MTV Artist to Watch show was special because we got to play all our own music and to see people respond the way they did, many who haven’t heard of us, which was really special. As for collaborations we are very excited to be working with these two indie singers Ilsey and Lucy on some original material. In terms of remixes, working with Smallpools was great--cool guys, who work very hard.


Looking back on all of your past collaborations and performances, do you have any fun behind-the-scenes stories that you could share with our readers?

Drew: Yes, once we saw a guy buy 125 bottles of vodka in one order. It was an incredible amount of vodka…


What are three things that you cannot live without when on tour?

Toothbrush, iPhone charger, Wi-fi.


I read in an interview that one of you once took a girl on a date that consisted of “going around the city and stink bombing places.” Do you have any dating horror stories from living in NYC?

Drew: Yes that was Alex, and that wasn’t a horror story, that was fun… 

Alex: But no horror stories for Drew, hair like Drew’s doesn’t have horror. Once I got a date with a girl I was trying for awhile, she finally said yes, and of course I got food poisoning, and I didn’t want to cancel, so I tried, it failed badly, she was cool about it, thought the effort was sweet.


In your opinion, what is the best part about what you do?

Alex: Being self-employed, and the fact our jobs are things we couldn't love and be more passionate about. Doing what you love, and waking up to that feeling, its motivating and terrifying in a way we can't hardly describe.


If you had to take on another profession, other than what you are doing now, what would it be and why?

Drew: Entrepreneurship of some sort. I was always messing around with different businesses while in college. 

Alex: Art world, the business behind art is really fascinating, and unregulated.


A fashion shoot like this is not on your schedule day. How much is fashion and style part of your life?

We love fashion. We feel like it’s all intrinsically connected. This isn't to say you have to wear expensive clothes to feel good, but feeling like you look good and being confident in what you are wearing makes you feel great. We love fashion, we definitely aren’t going to say we know a lot about it, but art, music, fashion they are all essential parts of culture and identity nowadays. Look at people like A$AP rocky who prides himself on fashion, along with Kanye, you have Sean Avery the hockey player who interned at Vogue, and Tiesto doing Guess... Besides the obvious cross over of it all, fashion is no doubt an art form its just a shame its not quite as accessible for all to enjoy... but I guess a Rolling Stones Show isn't exactly cheap either...


This being said, did you enjoy modeling and getting styled by us?

Drew: I’ve always been interested in this stuff and we had a great time. The clothes were stunning and I absolutely loved the Black Stadium Jacket I got to wear (Passarella Death Squad Stadium Jacket).


With such a busy schedule, what do you do to relax and unwind in your time off?

Watch TV, nothing better than a rainy Sunday and premium cable--NOTHIN'.


What initially draws you to a song when you decide to set out and reinterpret it as a remix?

Drew: Most of the songs we remix, we initially loved just to listen to. It can be as simple as the voice, the chord structure and instrumentation to the message, or all the above. We love to find songs though that aren’t already spoiled and that have some beautiful emotion to it, no matter the kind.


What is on your iPod right now?

Drew: Daughter, Kanye West, Kaskade, Claptone and Chvrches…

Alex: Nothing…haha


Your mothers are credited with describing your music as “sound(ing) nice, but a little loud.” What do your fathers think of your music?

Drew: My dad loves our music. It’s not necessarily what he grew up to, but he loves diving into it all and respects the craft of it…


If you could choose anyone to collaborate with, who would it be and why?

Madeon and Chvrches. Just go and listen…


Do you have any upcoming projects that you are able to tell our readers about?

Drew: We have a number of remixes coming up but we have been sitting on some really exciting original material that we cannot wait to begin to put out. We have been working hard on writing, singing, and working with talented artists and we think we have some really great stuff to add to the arena of music.

Interview by Kevin Christopher Prince & Stephen Fisher

Photographs by Maria Karas

Styling by Sarah Granetz

Grooming by Kuma


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