Music & Yoga Pants: Exclusive Interview with The Chainsmokers

In today’s music industry, success not only depends on how good your music is, but also the likability of your brand as an artist. The EDM sector of the industry has especially shown that there’s simply too much talent and too much availibity to keep up with who’s “the most” talented. Artists such as Steve Aoki, Diplo, and Dada Life have figured this out, and given their strong social media foundations, live performance antics, and good name amongst other DJ acts, they’ve been able to reach a larger fan base of people who not only love electronic music, but just flat out love to have a good time as well.

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The Chainsmokers are next on this train. Most people started paying attention to them after their incredible remix to “Dreaming” by Smallpools and kept paying attention as they dropped more infectious remixes such as the one for ASTR’s “Operate”. This type of big room spin on indie/pop tracks became their signature long before most of us knew anything about who these two post-hipster looking guys from New York City really were. Many people make good music but then find themselves so zoned out creatively that there’s no room for relatability. The Chainsmokers aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves or simply be realistic about the fact that they’re young, talented, and get to perform their hobby as their job. Why not let loose a little?

It’s not even “marketing,” although it’s the best form of it. With a Calvin Harris-esque ability to churn gold out of something most producers would make too “poppy” and lifelessly mainstream, there’s no doubt that Drew and Alex could have had a successful year with their music alone, but it doesn’t hurt when people go to a Marquee day party and see two DJs who are having just as much fun as they are.

This is how they looked at Create Nightclub a few weekends ago as well. We were lucky enough to catch their killer set and chat with them for a second before they went on.

Suprima: How did you guys get started?

The Chainsmokers: About a year ago, we were both kind of doing our own DJ projects, a friend of ours brought us together and our manager at the time was doing a good job right off the bat. We really wanted to find our niche and how we really fit into this dance music scene. There are so many DJs and even more DJs now than when we started. We were thinking of was going to be our angle? It took us till the beginning of 2013, January to really figure out what kind of music we really enjoyed, enjoyed to make, and where we were going to fit in to the scene. We decided, or rather, what we discovered about ourselves is we have a knack creating Indie music or Indie remixes. We had a lot of success in the beginning creating a bootleg for Sigur Ros. It got really popular and went #1 on Hype Machine so we went with it and started remixes other cool Indie tracks. One thing led to another and we developed our entire sound off of that strategy. 

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Suprima: At the moment, how do you guys define your sound?

The Chainsmokers: We don't really don't try to make tracks a certain way. We just kinda know what we like. We like make records with vocals and we like vocals that aren't cheesy and sound like the typical vocals that you would find on a house track. We usually end up working with more Indie artists. I really don't know what our sound would be but there is definitely a red line with the vocal work we've done. Hopeful, uplifting, positive: that's more our vibe.

Suprima: What do you have coming for 2014? Any upcoming shows or special releases you're excited for?

The Chainsmokers: We're starting to launch into the whole original content. We've had a lot of success with these remixes but people really want original records. We're really excited to reveal The Chainsmokers original records. We've been working on collaborations with a bunch of really great Indie artists and a bunch of really great DJs. The next thing that you'll probably hear from us is a big record with Adrian Lux. We're going to put that out an see how it goes. We also have a bunch of new tracks that are just The Chainsmokers. We're really excited to show people that side of The Chainsmokers. As far as performances go, we've transitioned from to group of 500-1000 people who know all the words to our songs which is really fucking awesome. So hopefully over 2014 we can really make it even bigger and make it to the point where The Chainsmokers concerts are filled with thousands of personnel.

Suprima: Are you guys currently working on an album or an EP? Any original releases coming soon?

The Chainsmokers: We've been talking to a bunch of labels, and of now, short answer is no, but we're going to start with singles and depending on how many finished tracks we have, we're going to shop those around to a bunch of different labels. There are a bunch that have expressed interest in our final product. So, once we speak with them we'll really understand it and know whether its the right move to do singles, an EP, or an album. But as of now, singles are sort of the business.

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Suprima: How did you expand your fan base so quickly?

The Chainsmokers: There's a number of factors. Of course, we like to think the main factor is the music but we put our a lot of music too. Last spring we were putting out a remix every two weeks and it was something good and fresh that no one has really heard. We've found really talented Indie bands that no one in the dance music scene was really working with. We think that brought a lot of attention to us not only in our own scene but also in other bubbles that are remixes of their favorite bands tracks. Obviously, we've had a bunch of success on Hype Machine, and once you have your track on the top of Hype Machine, you get some popularity. I think we've had 10-15 tracks at the top of Hype Machine. It's mainly paying attention to your fan base and keeping them engaged. But it's also about being ourselves and tweeting funny shit. Just being real people.

Suprima: What was it like playing at TomorrowWorld?

The Chainsmokers: It was the best day of our lives. And for many other reasons besides our show. You know, it was just awesome. It was the first major festival that we were asked to play for and it was before we had a booking agent, so it felt that they were watching us. But honestly, the response couldn't have been better. Before we even started playing the entire stage was full, people with The Chainsmokers banners and t-shirts. It was awesome having a bunch of our own fans there. It's such a big festival and there are so many great artists. Our stage was small fitting 500-1000 people just for us. So really, that day couldn't have gone better.

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Suprima: Where do you guys see yourselves in the next few years?

The Chainsmokers: It's really hard to see where this whole thing is going. We know that, musically, we want to write crossover pop-dance songs that are cool and have integrity. You think of Calvin Harris and Zedd, those guys are our heroes but we wanted to do something a little different musically and have it really be us that people are listening to. But I think our sound is definitely coming along firmly. We just need to develop it a little bit more and build ourselves up. The more pop route is where we're headed. But also we like to do other shit to. We think we're really funny so we want to build a Chainsmokers brand. We want to do something with video and really let people know who we are and make them fell like they're our homies unlike the performers they go and see at their favorite clubs. They're is a lot we can do more with on our social media and that's something we've been experimenting now. We did this video the other day of us responding to people's SoundCloud tracks. So we're going to put together these little Jimmy Kimmel skits, kind of reading through people talking shit on our songs. Funny stuff like that that really shows our personalities. We just got done talking about how we want to make a line of yoga pants or something. Just having fun, you know.