/Columbia producer/DJ duo The Chainsmokers have scored one of the year’s true monsters with “Closer” f/Halsey, which has moved about 1.5 million and follows on the heels of prior hits “Roses” and “Don’t Let Me Down.” Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall released their first remixes in 2012 and had a novelty smash with “#Selfie” the following year. But it’s “Closer” that’s made them a household word, though the last thing they want is to get any closer to us. Which is why they delivered their joint answers to our questions from the safe distance of email. 

“Closer” is more than one of the biggest songs of the year—it’s a phenomenon. Take us through its creation, and your thoughts on its reception.
We’re just super-grateful and excited at how many people are enjoying the song. We had no idea it was going to be so well received. We just make music for ourselves, our fans, and our friends and work super hard on it, so it’s definitely a great feeling. Without wasting everyone’s time and being super-boring, we were on our Friendzone Tour last year, and it was after the show and we were just hanging out. We started listening to all these bands we grew up on like Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday and blink-182, and it occurred to us how much these bands influenced us musically. We decided we wanted to write a song similar in style to how they used to write lyrically. It wasn’t until the next day that Drew thought, “Let’s write an unsexy sex song.” We used these really visual moments from memories and things close to us that described this situation, which was running into an ex-girlfriend, thinking she looked super-hot and then hooking up and realizing all the reasons why you hated her again. We have to give a big up to our DJ homies Freddy Kennett and Shaun Frank, who worked with us on the bus that night. Shaun helped write the vocal with us and most importantly helped record Drew’s vocal. It was a big turning point in confidence. We thought, we can’t let someone else sing a song that’s so much about, and reflects, us, so Drew stepped up.

How do the two of you collaborate, and how do you work with your guest artists like Halsey and Rozes?
We both know our roles within the group, which allows us the freedom to get a lot done but also trust one another. Drew came in as the producer and Alex the DJ. Since then, the lines have blurred, and Alex is more of an A&R/executive producer, and Drew is now a singer/songwriter and producer. We’re both involved in every aspect of the group’s workings. With artists like the aforementioned, it’s always different. We wrote the entire song “Roses” with Rozes. She came in with a couple great lyrics and lines, and together we built off of them to make a complete song in one session in one day. We found her through a song she had done that was on HypeMachine and just reached out. With Halsey, we had the song virtually done, but we thought having her join would make it so much more dynamic. She’s such a great singer, and adding her makes the song more of a conversation, and she sounds incredible on it.

What are your feelings about the Grammys, and what would a nomination mean to you?
We grew up watching all of our inspirations take part in this incredible ceremony that celebrated the best accomplishments in music, so to think we might even be invited, let alone nominated, is completely surreal! Think the Wayne’s World “we’re not worthy” moment. A nomination would be such an incredible recognition of our endless work and all our efforts on our music. That isn’t to say we aren’t satisfied, but it’s the sort of nod that means so much because it’s from peers and people you respect and in some cases shaped the way we are as artists.

Where do you think EDM fits into the mainstream now, and where do you see it going?
It fits right in, but for some reason it’s still considered this black-sheep genre. Electronic music has influenced almost every song out this year, yet it’s still considered this outsider genre. We would be lying to say it doesn’t bother us, because a lot of our colleagues work so hard, and some songs have shaped the course of music forever, yet they still aren’t given the credit they deserve. Hopefully, this will change over time.

The full-length album format no longer seems to dictate the shape of the music marketplace, and you’ve certainly thrived without one. Can you envision wanting to make a longer-form work at some point, or pursuing other configurations, such as a mixtape?
Of course, it’s something we think about. What it really comes down to is our fans. If they want an album, then we will give them the best album we can. But it’s up to them. We for sure romanticize the idea of doing one, and we have some ideas that we think could be really interesting, but we are just seeing what the people want.

Do you, in fact, chain-smoke? And if so, what brand? We like the O.G. Kush ourselves.
Nah, used to way back when. That shit will kill you! 


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How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?

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