The Chainsmokers are one of the most well-known pop/EDM groups in history, catapulting into fame with their 2014 hit “#Selfie” and solidifying their staying power with “Closer,” the single they produced with Halsey, per Cosmopolitan. According to Forbes, “Closer” made some impressive moves on the charts, including tying “for the fourth-longest run at the top of the [all-encompassing Hot 100] list.” It also tied “for the longest consecutive run” inside the Top 10 of the Hot 100.
The duo has since toured the world and had consistent residencies in Las Vegas, making them the 21st highest-paid celebrities in the world as of 2020, per Forbes. There are only four musicians ranked higher than The Chainsmokers on that list and, in 2019, the EDM duo ousted Calvin Harris as the highest-paid DJ, reported We Rave You. Harris had held that top spot for six years.
But behind the glitz, glamour, and larger-than-life personalities, The Chainsmokers — consisting of Andrew Taggert and Alex Pall — seem to be just two, down-to-earth musicians. Keep reading to find out just what makes these guys so unique — and so successful.
The Chainsmokers originally involved someone else
While die-hard fans of The Chainsmokers might know that Andrew Taggert and Alex Pall weren’t the original members of the EDM/pop duo, casual fans will probably be surprised to find out that The Chainsmokers didn’t include Taggert at first. The group was originally formed by Pall and Rhett Bixler, who both went to New York University, per Thought Catalogue) Bixler studied journalism and Pall studied art, though the two “regularly [spun] parties at all the premium venues in New York City and The Hamptons.” According to Rolling Stone, Pall said he used to “game college … [to] put on shows and parties with my friends.” Rolling Stone wrote he’d do as much work as he could ahead of time and then spend hours making music.
Per The Guardian, Bixler and Pall would “DJ five-hour sets in New York, five nights a week, for $200 a pop.” But eventually, Bixler quit, and Pall “bought up the rights to the band’s name.” He was then introduced to Tagger “by their now-manager, Adam Alpert” according to Cosmopolitan, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Indie music provided a launching pad for the group
Although The Chainsmokers are known for their incredible dance tracks, it was actually the existence of indie music that allowed them to hone their craft. As reported by The Guardian, “the pair gained traction through an opportunistic, but brilliant, scheme.” What they did involved an aggregator and up-and-coming musicians. They would scan Hype Machine and determine what new indie releases were doing well, then cut “unofficial remixes” of the tracks, “hoping to ride [its] slipstream.”
Pall said, “Drew would have seven days to finish [the song]. … I’d spend seven days sending it out to every blog and writer, then he’d start on the next one.” Pall said the duo did that “every two weeks for two years.” Eventually, their efforts paid off, and The Chainsmokers became a household name.
But even after their fame began to rise, The Chainsmokers never left their indie roots behind. Pall is the self-proclaimed “A&R man,” per Rolling Stone. (A&R stands for Arts and Repertoire, who are members of a music label responsible for scouting new talent). Pall finds the guest singers for their tracks and helps “steer Taggart’s aesthetic.” Pall claims he listens to about 300 new songs each day and “keeps running lists on his computer … [of] fledgling singers.” Names that have been on that list include Halsey and Tove Lo before they made it big. The Chainsmokers said they like to work with “young unknown artists” because they “have this hunger — they’re willing to work really hard.”
The duo have embraced their reputation
There is no doubt The Chainsmokers are a wildly successful music duo, but that fame does come with a price. Even though they got their start making remixes of indie songs, it was their 2014 hit “#Selfie” that made them a household name. However, that song was not without its controversy. The comedic look at social media culture caused some people to think that The Chainsmokers were frat boys who loved to party, a reputation that was solidified by an interview the duo did in 2016 with Billboard Magazine. In it, the two talked about getting girls and drinking, with Andrew Taggert telling the publication that they “rage every night.” And while they embrace that description, they also are aware they are more than that.
“We like to have a good time,” Tagger told The Guardian. “[Billboard] came to a party show, they saw us partying with our friends, and that was what they wrote about.” Alex Pall had his own thoughts about the Billboard article as well. “What do two middle-class white guys have to talk about that’s interesting for the world? What they saw was two frat boys enjoying ourselves. And they chose to run with that label versus hard-working musicians.”
While it could be safe to say the two were frat boys, they have since toned down their image, removing a rather controversial statistic about a specific body part from their website and becoming more serious about their music.
Even on hiatus, The Chainsmokers are still courting controversy
On February 24, 2020, The Chainsmokers announced via their social media that they’d be going on hiatus to focus on the creation of their new album, with the working title of “TCS4.” Beyond going on just hiatus, however, the band seems to have scrubbed their presence on Instagram, a marked change from their earlier endeavors, where they relied on guerrilla marketing techniques to increase their fame. Now, their official Instagram account as well as their own personal ones are completely devoid of photos. Only The Chainsmokers’ account has a post that details why they are taking a break and promised they would return once their new album is ready. The same message is posted on their Twitter, though retweets from their official account are still available.
Though they have kept off social media, they haven’t escaped the news altogether. In fact, their charity work was the substance of some pretty intense scrutiny in July 2020. The Chainsmokers were part of a charity drive-in concert dubbed Safe & Sound (per Billboard) that would benefit No Kid Hungry, the Children’s Medical Fund of NY, and Southampton Fresh Air Home, among others. However, footage from the concert showed clear violations of New York’s COVID protocols, prompting an investigation from the New York Department of Health, reported The New York Times.
The Chainsmokers have participated in other charity giving as well, however, previously donating 20,000 masks to hospitals in New York and Las Vegas, according to Page Six.
They seem to be diversifying
The Chainsmokers will most likely always be known for their chart-topping music, but they aren’t just focused on creating dance tracks anymore. In 2018, the duo formed Kick the Habit Productions along with their long-time manager Adam Alpert, per Variety. The production company was “formed … to develop and produce film, television, and digital projects.” The first project announced was the feature film “Paris,” based on The Chainsmokers’ hit song of the same name, which was set to be produced in conjunction with TriStar and the screenplay written by Mickey Rapkin of “Pitch Perfect” fame. However, not much has been released about the movie, nor about the TV show Kick the Habit was said to be producing alongside Freeform in 2019 entitled “Demo.” That show is about “a 20-something musician who dares to leave behind her struggling indie rock band and her working class family to try writing pop songs in Los Angeles,” reported Variety.
Aside from film and television productions, The Chainsmokers have also dabbled in fashion. According to Cosmopolitan, they “helped with the creative design for the NYC-based fashion line Our Thing.” The line seemed to be based in athleisure-inspired clothing, but appears to no longer be in business as of this writing.
And although they have limited their interaction on social media, they are actively headlining shows in Las Vegas, according to their official website, so it seems music is still a very big part of The Chainsmokers’ lives — and probably will be for a long time.
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