We chat to the chart-topping EDM jokers about touring, remixing and the song that made them famous
Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart were making a name for themselves long before their chart-smashing hit ‘Selfie’ reached over 100 million views on YouTube. The New York duo were originally known for their energetic, vocals-led dance remixes of indie hits including Neon Trees ‘Sleeping with a Friend’. Big-name DJs and producers including Nicky Romero, Steve Aoki, Afrojack and Tiesto soon took notice, and one day at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, things got a lot bigger than they expected. We chat to Alex Pall about how it all began and what to expect at their upcoming Melbourne show.
Alex, what inspired you and Andrew to start remixing indie-pop songs several years back?
We both really like electronic music and indie-alternative music – tracks that weren’t getting a lot of attention in the dance community. So that’s kinda how we started, doing remixes for indie bands. They did really well on [the website] Hype Machine and we built a small following from that.
Why do you think people responded so positively to your hybrid sound?
I think we brought something unique to the progressive dance sound, because a lot of the top lines in dance music were cheesy and predictable. Blending the two genres really served both areas well. It kind of brought the tempo up, making the indie songs a bit more fun and club-worthy. And for dance music fans, it made them more emotional and interesting.
Releasing your track ‘Selfie’ was a defining moment for you guys. What was the thought process behind it?
We just made the song as a joke – it wasn’t that intentional. We put it out as a free edit and then Steve Aoki heard it and was like, “I wanna sign this to [my label] Dim Mak, are you guys interested?” We were like, “fuck yes”! We made the music video… and it just took off.
The funniest part about the song is that the girl is so relatable – we’ve heard people exactly like her! Do you think that’s what makes the song so appealing?
Yeah, absolutely. It was really just us sitting around, talking about funny things that our girlfriends say. Also, the beat is really catchy… we made the beat as a joke too!
Your main stage appearance at Miami's Ultra Music Festival in March this year is wild: there’s so much energy and the crowd is loving it! What was that like for you, doing your biggest show of your career so far?
We were slotted for a different time, on a smaller stage, but [DJ] Laidback Luke had a kid and they offered us the slot. We kind of just went with it and it ended up being a super good time. The pinnacle of live shows is Ultra Main Stage as far as electronic music goes. It was humbling and an incredible experience.
What can Australian audiences can expect in your upcoming show?
We’re always planning stuff that we haven’t put out yet: that’s our thing. You’ll hear our new music. And we don’t really know what to expect from Australia! We come as prepared as we can but we change our set every night. We play to the room.
‘EDM’ as a broad term is exploding across the world in popularity. Do you feel like part of something really big at the moment?
Absolutely – we recognise that we’ve escalated to where we are extremely quickly. But we’ve been into the scene since it’s inception. When Deadmau5 was getting started we were listening to dance music. We’ve watched this whole scene grow and we finally found our place in it. But right now it’s bigger than it’s ever been and we’re really excited that we have the opportunity to be part of a scene that’s really blossoming.
Tickets to the Chainsmokers live show are available only at the door. No guest lists are available.