The Chainsmokers’s rise to success is not a Cinderella story. No magical fairy appeared to grant them instant success. The DJ duo of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart toiled for two years before their breakthrough hit “#Selfie” went mainstream in 2014. It has seemed like a Cinderella since then. The Chainsmokers went from rags to riches pretty fast, charting hit after hit in the ensuing years, and gaining a particularly large following. But the Chainsmokers story is not akin to countless recording artists, beginning in anonymity and then rising to celebrity. Their story is one of self-discovery, innovation, and the quest to become legitimate artists.
“We’ve been around the world once,’ Pall stated in a 2016 interview, “Probably two or three times.” The New York based DJ admitted that he and Taggart figured out early on they did not want to make dance music. “We keep pushing ourselves,” Pall stated, “Everyday it is all about self-discovery.” Both he and cohort Andrew Taggart admit that they are still trying to catch up to their success.
The duo’s 2016 interview with the Interview Magazine came at the heels of revolutionary single “Closer”. “Closer” was the first legitimate step the duo took to separate their music. It features Andrew Taggart on lead vocals. An element not present in most EDM music. The genre is filled with remixes of similar source material, where artist paint soundscapes on another artist’s pre-existing canvas. Pall and Taggart wanted to push boundaries, so Taggart picked up a mike. They also began involving themselves in the creation of their own music.
“We do not want to produce typical EDM albums,” Pall said, “Filled with 10 or 12 songs that have no relation.” Pall and Taggart want to create a unified work that tells who they are. They have been focused on bridging connection since they decided to include their real lives in their music. According to Taggart they were listening to Dashboard Confessional at the time.
Electronic music and DJing is a hard gig to find success in. Almost anyone can learn basic skills in engineering sounds into a melody if they were so inclined. Making a name for yourself, and topping Billboard Electronic and Dance Music lists for weeks takes a different kind of engineering. The Chainsmokers, made up of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart, have proven themselves to be music innovators.
The world of electronic dance music had just started making headway in the United States when this duo first emerged in 2012. The groundwork had already been set by international artists like Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and the late Avicii – who had a great influence on both members of the Chainsmokers, as well as Electric and Pop music in general. The production duo took on the genre veterans by incorporating more vocal involvement. By doing so, performances tended to flow in a more unique way compared to their fellow DJs.
While much of the EDM industry represents a “love all” community, The Chainsmokers have a brilliant understanding of the power of words. Andrew Taggart of the duo brings forth a truth in his lyrics that many listeners relate to. Both men are willing to bare their emotions to the audience. They make themselves unique by mixing electronic music and dance beats with honest lyrics that they sing themselves. Doing this creates a different experience for the audience during a show. It’s no longer about getting lost in a bass drop. There is a raw, emotional connection that fans can find in their words, while also dancing to the music.
The duo is constantly striving to expand music horizons, eliminating the stark lines between genres. They don’t just consider themselves to be EDM, although many of their original followers come from the EDM community. After establishing themselves in dance music, they continue to incorporate the sounds of indie and hip-hop into their songs. With over a billion hits on multiple song releases, it’s no wonder that Billboard chose them to be the leader of the new Dance 100 List.