Photo: Tyler Shields

An Exclusive Interview With The Chainsmokers

Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart were on fire in 2016—and that flame isn’t going out anytime soon.

The Details

Renowned Los Angeles-based photographer, screenwriter and director Tyler Shields took these exclusive images of The Chainsmokers, seen for the first time in Vegas Seven. Shields is also the lens behind the new black-and-white advertising and video campaign We Are Wynn Nightlife. His celebrity portraits, the stunning series “Historical Fiction” and his book The Dirty Side of Glamour capture a true visual imprint of the 21st century.


Just three years ago, it might’ve been easy to dismiss The Chainsmokers as stereotypical EDM DJs—the kind who spend most of their time remixing others’ tracks.

But since the duo’s big 2014 break, Alex Pall, 31, and Andrew Taggart, 27, have been proving themselves as recording artists, churning out hits co-written by Taggart and featuring emotive lyrics that sink themselves into the hearts of their fans. Oh, and Taggart started stepping in front of the sound mixer, taking the mic on songs such as “All We Know” and “Closer.”

“When we met, I came in as a DJ and he came in with a producer background. Over the course of four years, it’s definitely blurred and blended a lot more,” Pall says. “I don’t think we were songwriters when we started out, necessarily … To become more comfortable and confident in our songwriting and the producing side, it’s just been amazing. We just used to remix 50 songs a year or something. It’s really different.”

Tyler Shields

Listeners—and the music industry—took notice, as “Closer” only recently ended its 12-week reign on the top of Billboard’s Hot 100, and what came after that success was even bigger: three Grammy nominations, including the coveted nod for best new artist. In the past 30 years, only two other dance-music artists can claim that nom: Skrillex, in 2012, and C+C Music Factory, in 1992. Not bad for a couple of kids from East Coast suburbs, who started playing shows in New York City for a crowd of 100.

“For any artist, the Grammys are the highest form of validation—win or lose. Just to be considered, to know that our peers [who] have a vote in this process thought [we were] worthy, [for] what we’ve done this past year … is just incredible,” Taggart says.

“Wynn has a long history of identifying ‘best in class’ entertainment to perform at the resort.  … When we saw the meteoric rise of The Chainsmokers last year, we knew we wanted to align our brand with theirs.” – Alex Cordova, executive vice president of nightlife at Wynn Las Vegas

In addition to their obvious synergy in the studio, The Chainsmokers likely wouldn’t be where they are today without a ton of hard work—and the rigorous touring schedule they keep. The pair played countless festivals in 2016—from Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas to Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits—in addition to club performances all around the globe and awards shows, from the American Music Awards to MTV’s VMAs, where Taggart made his live vocal debut with rising alt-pop star Halsey on “Closer.” “There’s really not a lot of things we do for fun. We’re pretty much [working] at the moment. We’re either at the studio or we’re traveling to a show or playing a show,” Taggart says.

And speaking of the studio, Taggart divulged that the duo is always working on new material—not exactly a surprise when you consider the fact that they’ve yet to release a full album instead focusing on churning out fantastic EPs laden with hit after hit after hit. “We always write. Writing’s our passion. [Being in the] studio is our passion,” he says. “Touring can be really fun but also really stressful, so we have to make sure that we allocate enough time to be in the studio and kind of let our creative minds run free.”

Tyler Shields

In addition to letting off some steam expressively, it’s become a known fact that The Chainsmokers are certainly of the “work hard, play hard” mind-set. That makes them a great fit for Las Vegas, where they just signed on to continue as headliners at Strip nightclubs, this time inking a three-year residency deal at Wynn Las Vegas.

“Wynn has a long history of identifying ‘best in class’ entertainment to perform at the resort.  … When we saw the meteoric rise of The Chainsmokers last year, we knew we wanted to align our brand with theirs,” says Alex Cordova, executive vice president of nightlife at Wynn Las Vegas. He adds that the property has “great things” in the works for The Chainsmokers’ shows.

And a Chainsmokers live show is definitely something to experience. While some DJs might shy away from an open format, it’s exactly that style which makes Las Vegas an appealing gig destination for Pall and Taggart. “Everyone [goes] to Vegas to have a good time, and that kind of allows us some freedom in our set,” Pall says. “We get to play funny throwbacks that everyone knows but forgot about [and] cool versions of our own songs. [We] get interactive with the crowd.”

After a banner year of owning the airwaves, Taggart believes it’s also the sheer success that makes a Chainsmokers show so entertaining. “It lets the audience trust us a little bit more. They’re more familiar with who we are and what we do,” he says. “That allows us to be able to push the boundaries and play some unexpected stuff and take chances … people are on the same page with us because of what we put out in the studio.”

Did we mention they’re already returning to XS this Saturday? Healthy habits might be trendy during the New Year’s resolution season, but now has never been a better time to take up Chainsmoking.

Want to know what it’s like to attend The Chainsmokers’ new three-year residency at Wynn Las Vegas? Read the full story here.

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