Update 18 June: The Singapore stop of the Chainsmokers tour has been cancelled. Details here
The electronic pop duo are in the midst of a massive tour, intriguingly called "World War Joy" after their latest EP of the same name. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart will be hitting the US, Canada, Europe and Asia all the way till December this year, including two sets at seminal EDM festival Tomorrowland in July. Ahead of their buzz-filled return to Asia, we had a chat with Alex to discuss playing festivals, their music direction, upcoming collaborations, touring plans and new horizons.
From your experience, what would you say is the most enjoyable part of touring Asia?
There are so many things! We are big fans of the food, there are so many types of Asian cuisines. But really, it is just the people, they are such great hosts and very welcoming. Even though we are very far away from home, it almost always feels like a second home.
What is the main difference between the new album and the previous albums Sick Boy and Memories Do Not Open?
Our new album is way happier, we are dealing with different parts of our lives now and we are really happy doing what we are doing and this is really reflected in our music. We are better producers and Drew is a better singer. This album is about the happiness and the good vibes and this is really the main difference. It is more mature.
Out of the 3 songs that you've already released in the new album, which one means the most to you and why?
I guess the one that means the most would be "Kills You Slowly" out of the three so far. I feel like we can really relate to that message very well. A lot of people out there are in a relationship that they stay in that becomes toxic because they become too scared to get out of it and it says a lot about someone you love even if they are not meant to be with you and that has happen a number of times to me in my life so it has a lot of relevance.
The Chainsmokers have become a steady festival headliner, from Ultra Miami to Tomorrowland, what's your secret to achieving that?
I wished I knew! I guess we just worked really hard. There are all sorts of things you could say like we were prepared or we were lucky or it is good timing… but one thing that is consistent to our whole career is that we just worked really hard every day to becoming better musicians and better performers… better human beings I guess. And it is also our work ethics, whether we are making a big song or a song that is not so popular, we are always working on the next big thing and trying to improve it so it is a big part on that… and our fans of course!
What do you think about the state of electronic music in 2019?
I think that it is always changing and when people are looking at dance music, it is less about trap music right now. I think that right now, electronic is not the most popular genre in the world but it is totally fine. It is now going through a period of change like the producers that we are working with right now are amazing and there are still so much room for dance music to grow and hopefully, artists like Kygo, Flume, Louis the Child, Tiesto, Calvin Harris and Martin Garrix continue to push the boundaries and do amazing things! And Marshmello is also doing a great job on that right now.
Do you have any plans to try something new with your music that you haven't tried before? Something more experimental? Gaming, esports music?
Yeah! We were talking about our next album already and doing something very different in terms of the feels and the sounds, and also how Drew sings. We have to discuss it more and think about what that means and what that sounds like but we are definitely thinking about it and we want to try to do new things and keep it interesting. I think that by the time when we get to that stage, the new album will be ready to take a big risk and we can do something different!
You've collaborated with so many great artists. Who else would be your dream collaboration?
Well… we have a song with Blink 182 that we are really excited about, and we have a new song coming out with a collaborator that we are really excited about. I think people are going to be really stoked about that, I can't tell you the name yet but it is going to be great. [Editor's note: the song is now out, and the mystery collaborator is none other than Bebe Rexha!]
If we are going to have one dream collaboration, I think it will be really cool to work with Lewis Capaldi, he is pretty cool and I'd love to write with him.
How about Kpop artists?
Oh yeah, Monsta X, BTS, Blackpink, they are amazing! We are actually trying to work with Blackpink right now but they are really busy and we are really busy so we are trying to find the time to do something cool. We have produced a song for BTS before which was awesome so we are totally in for working with K-POP artists.
We recently aired Dare To Live: The Chainsmokers on MTV Asia. How was your experience on the show with Rory Kramer? Are you guys thrill seekers at heart?
Yes, depending on it for real. Drew loves jumping out of planes and I like going really fast in things and we love exploring and we love adventures! And Rory is like… Mr Adventure! He loves exploring new things and being spontaneous and that was what that show was all about. So it was super fun to be on it and I think that living your life like that is an important way to live and be.
In the recent The Chainsmokers Memories Documentary that you've released on YouTube, we can see that everyone in your team works really hard to put together all the shows and being on the road. How important is having a great team around you when touring? The Chainz teams as your best friends and coworkers etc?
It is so important! Your tour family becomes your real family in a lot of ways and obviously they are the people that you see the most and we are supported by the people who are behind the scenes and they make all these amazing things happen, whether or not it is going to a city on time or making sure that we have the right equipment or the right pyrotechnics to make the show look amazing or sound good. There are so many people that help us to do what we do and I am just glad that the documentary is able to highlight some of the people because they are the company we keep and a huge part of the success that we have. Even on the question on how do we get to the main stage of Tomorrowland or Ultra….it is because we have these people around us.
Finally, what message do you hope your fans can get out of your new album?
I think that the message is that life is short, you should be enjoying it and you should enjoy the people around you. We want people, when they hear our music, to be transported to a different place. We want them to feel happy and think of an emotion or a place and time and you know, help them feel good and that has always been our goal in music. This album is having that direction and we hope that we can continue to write great songs and people will love it.