Interview: The Chainsmokers

The Chainsmokers have had a massive start to 2017. The duo recently announced that they would be releasing the debut full-length album this year and doing a full US headlining tour beginning in April. Before the duo heads on the road, they were nice enough to answer a few questions for Surviving the Golden Age.

You are preparing to release your debut full length album. Did you approach writing songs any differently for a full album rather than for singles or an EP?

Yes absolutely. It was much more challenging because for us an album needs to tell a story and feel congruent which coming from dance music is especially challenging. But it was the fact we were doing so much songwriting and more that made us feel comfortable to start the process. Our music was becoming more personal and we started to see some common themes in the stuff we were doing and it just sort of snowballed from there. It definitely hasn’t been easy though, sometimes we are pushing that snowball uphill haha but we felt like we just had more to say now… and we couldn’t be more excited the music feels really special.

Many people claim that albums are dead. What made you want to release an LP?

They aren’t wrong. Doing any album was more of an artistic creative decision than it was a business one. And since its always art first and business second for us we felt like we were making the right decision. We put out 10 singles in the last 18 months and that was a great tool to garner attention but you can only say and do so much with singles and while this may be a terrible decision we are excited for our fans to hear it… they will really come into our world with this album.

Your latest single “Paris” is a bit of change of pace with no real “drop.” What made you want to veer away from the standard EDM formula?

It wasn’t about veering away from EDM it was just about doing something new and innovative and exciting for us. We know some people might not get it, since there is no traditional drop till the end but the song felt really fresh to us and that’s what we care about. We might end up making a folk song one day without even realizing it, but long as it feels new to us that’s all that matters. The second people know what to expect from us we aren’t doing it right.

Many of your tracks include guest vocalist. How do you select who to collaborate with?

That’s always different and comes organically out of the production and songwriting process. We are very visual people and you sort of catch a vibe writing and think that person would be perfect for the song. Its important to us that the features not outweigh the song, the song needs to take on its on life and direction and when people see a feature we dont want them to know what to expect cause so and so is on it…

Who is someone you have not collaborated with that you wish you could?

Kanye West, Imogen Heap, Bon Iver, Jon bellion, we could go on and on…

You guys have been much derided, most recently called “The Nickelback of EDM” by Esquire. Does that kind of criticism bother you?

Yeah that bothered us initially… that article was really poorly written and we just didn’t get it. Everyone can have their opinion but that seemed like it went the extra step, like we did something personal to offend this guy. We work so hard and pour our souls into our music so we never like hearing that sort of opinion no matter who they are. BUT with that said who cares what that guy thinks, we make music for ourselves and our friends and we thought our response was perfectly in line with who we are. We aren’t out here to pick fights and make enemies though so it is what it is, this dude needed clicks and used us to cash his check…

There will be a tour surrounding this album. What should fans expect from your live show?

A HUGE one… its what we are most excited about. To tour off the back of an album is any musicians dream. Its really hard to put into words the scope of this tour. We have always gone big on production and given everything possible at our shows to our fans but somehow we found a way to go like 10 times bigger and we aren’t talking about the size of the crowd…. We are working with the most amazing production club and creating a show that will bring people a visual element unlike anything they have seen, and that’s important coming from the dance world… but what is the biggest evolution is the live element, we are just going to be DJing, we put together an amazing band that will be a part of this. For us its all about creating moments and dynamics and this show is going to have a lot of them. Think 65% DJ 30% Live music and 5% theatre. If we aren’t challenging ourselves and bringing our fans something new then whats the point. And mark our words this show is going to be unreal… and we promise the oldies and energy everyone loves with all the new music as well. AND let’s not forget the incredible support joining us as well!

Finally, you won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording for “Don’t Let Me Down.” What does winning a Grammy mean to you?

Winning, well that meant a lot to us. For any musician to win a grammy is the highest honor you can receive from your peers. We work so hard on this project that it’s just the most gratifying feeling, honestly we are still processing it. But the win wasn’t the most motivating thing that happened, it was the two losses. That isn’t to say we weren’t the happiest we have ever been and sharing that with Daya, Emily Warren and Scott Harris meant everything to us, or that the ones we lost we wrong cause we are such massive fans of Chance and Twenty One Pilots and they deserved it… but just being at the grammy’s and being a part of that whole ceremony was so eye opening. Once our chances to win cycled through all we wanted to do was leave and get back in the studio and start working towards the future.

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