Interview | The Chainsmokers: A Chat With Our Guest Editors

CraveOnline caught up with this month’s Guest Editors, The Chainsmokers, while they were in town for Lollapalooza 2015. Alex and Andrew took the stage for the sold out music festival, which hosted a record 100k people a day. With the stage excessively illuminated for 7pm on a summer Chicago night, and with more fire being spewed from it than the combined matches lit to blow off illegal fireworks in Wicker Park during the fourth of July, one might be surprised to find out just how laid back and level-headed this duo is.

But The Chainsmokers kind of had an unfortunate yet super fortunate thing happen to them last year. They wrote a song about this thing that people now do, that honestly is completely acceptable in some ways, but in others is just a hyper self-involved activity of our distracted and disillusioned youth, and then published as instantaneously as technology will allow, and commented on by their equally self-involved friends, who take a few micro-seconds out of their day to remark on aforementioned self-involved friends.

The song’s video got about 355 million views on YouTube. So, I started where I knew I had to start.

CRAVE: Are you going to play your hit “Selfie”?

Andrew: No, we’re not actually.

 I followed up with a perplexed, “Huh?” (It was actually a very relieved, “Huh?”)

Alex: Playing “Selfie” out, it’s not really like a moment. It doesn’t create the energy as well as really any of our other songs. 

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That’s cool that it’s not guaranteed to be your closer. I think every band has that one song that breaks them out and they keep playing it. And they hate it.

Andrew: We don’t hate it. We’re definitely proud of it. We didn’t expect it to be the song that would make us – be the first big song that we’ve ever had. But we’re definitely thankful for the exposure. And we’re just happy that even the people who became fans of ours because of that song, or heard of us because of that song, are bigger fans of the rest of our other music.

In the music space and in media, there are a lot of criticisms of EDM music, and there’s a good chance they’re not even warranted (the genre has proved itself). What do you say to the haters?

Andrew: The kids I grew up with, or kids we went to college with, or my mom… My parents or my friends when they first come to a show, people who don’t buy into the scene at all, they’re not necessarily critical of it, they’re just not a fan. As soon as they come to it, they’re all like, “This is something I’ve never seen before. This is the most energy I’ve ever seen at any show ever.” It’s something that’s undeniable that I think no one should really criticize.

With that well worded point, Andrew continues in the best and most reasonable way possible – “So yeah. Fuck em’.” But there’s more to it, and for the artists who’ve probably been served this question more than once, it’s apparent The Chainsmokers have given it thought.

Alex: All our parents had their parents complain about the rock music they were listening to, the grunge music they were listening to. Even hip-hop in the beginning. Every genre just takes a little while and then it becomes accepted.

What didn’t take a while was this duo’s rise to a solid level of success.

You came on the scene pretty hard and fast. How long would you have kept trying if it didn’t happen, or did you know success was just in the cards?

Andrew: Alex and I met almost 3 years ago and just from when we first met, it was very clear that we would be a good fit and we were very determined to make something awesome.. that people were going to love. And we’re just as determined, if not more so, to be better artists.

Alex: So you can’t say it was just a matter of time. But you also can’t deny that we worked harder, and devoted more time and energy, than most artists are able to when we first started out.

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To this point, I thought that maybe The Chainsmokers were keeping up with the insatiable demand for new music, especially in the world of EDM, which can facilitate that desire better than more traditional music genres. I mean, let’s face it, Mumford & Sons (and every other traditional instrument band) are taking their full allotted year in the studio to make a new record.

But for The Chainsmokers, it’s more about drive and passion than ‘keeping up’. This would explain why, in under three years of even knowing each other, these two have their name (which I am seriously hoping doesn’t represent a bad habit for the two – #smoking kills) printed on Lollapalooza paraphernalia across the globe. (Yep, they already played Brazil in Spring 2015.)

The world knows your name, then they want to know what you’re up to. You guys really seem to have a great knack for managing social media. It’s very obvious that you’re having a great time, and your fans are very engaged, is that something that you have to work at?

Andrew: It’s just us. It’s not something we have to work at. We’re conscious of being compared to other artists on social media, but we’re not changing our lifestyles to try to do something that we think people will want to watch. It’s better to be yourself. The people who will want to follow you will follow you.

If you ever want to moon light as marketing managers you’d probably be pretty good at that.

Andrew: I’ve always thought about that. If we’d be good at marketing something other than ourselves.

The answer, according to Alex and Andrew, is a definitive ‘no’. It’s pretty cool that, to use the most overplayed word in the world of marketing, The Chainsmokers’ take on the world of social is super organic.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s the only way it works.  I don’t really know anyone now these days that has someone that’s managing their social media. That was a phase. People thought they could have someone else do that stuff for them but people can sniff out inauthenticity.

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I disagree personally. I think a shit ton of people still absolutely pay someone else to manage their public presence for them, but these guys are just too sensible to think it still happens effectively from afar. Like a good detective, or stalker, I intently and very deliberately stalked their social profiles.

Profound Aesthetic? (A clothing line that the guys tend to wear frequently on stage and in press – their official photo for the Lollapalooza lineup featured one of the brand’s namesake jerseys.)

Andrew: They send us awesome stuff. I just started wearing it all the time. And now we’re working on a collaboration with them on one of their jerseys. They’re really dope. I really like their stuff.

Alex: A lot of brands don’t realize – if you send dope stuff to an artist, they’re going to wear it.

My two cents on the subject: maybe because they, the artists, haven’t done laundry in, well, ever. Or maybe because the 50 city tour that goes down in a calendar month doesn’t allow for sufficient packing. But a good product is different than one that sucks. Because it’s not just about free stuff.

Andrew: If they [an artist] wear it once, they’ll probably keep wearing it.

I feel like this is a shout out to anyone trying to start a lifestyle brand. Make it good, make it quality, get it to the right people – and voila – you have a set of public figures who are more than happy to rep, what is coincidentally (with Profound Aesthetic), a hometown brand (NYC for NYC). But they look pretty damn good doing it, and now an official collab is on the books.

So, what is next for The Chainsmokers?

Andrew: We have a fall tour coming up, that we’ve been working really hard on planning. For the past year we’ve been building this production that is a visual compliment to our show. 37 city bus tour, starting in October, with a bunch of our friends, and it’s going to be wild.

Alex: We’re just going to keep pushing out music, and hopefully Roses keeps spreading positive vibes around the world.

Press photo by Matthew Rowean, live photos by Rory Kramer.

 


Writer Michelle Griesman would like to save the world one paw (adopt a pet) and pop top (those things on your soda cans – they’re worth something) at a time. While being the humanitarian you know you can be, do it stylishly. She’ll help you out.