It’s an early January morning and The Chainsmokers have just arrived at Wynn Las Vegas. “They really know how to take care of people here,” Drew Taggart, one-half of the chart-topping DJ duo behind the number one Halsey-featuring smash single “Closer,” says. “They’ve been doing it forever.” Life has been good lately for The Chainsmokers: Taggart and partner-producer Alex Pall are arguably the country’s hottest pop duo, having scored three top 10 singles with tracks like “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Roses”; seeing “Closer” spent a record-tying 12 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100; and landing three Grammy nominations. And things are only getting better as The Chainsmokers have signed on for an exclusive three-year residency deal with Wynn Nightlife. To put it simply: if you want to see The Chainsmokers perform at a club in the next few years, you’ll be heading to the world-renowned XS Nightclub or the massive party that is Encore Beach Club.
“We’ve always admired the Wynn Resort and heard a lot about them from our fellow DJ friends,” Taggart says. “We’re very excited to finally be a part of that.” The Chainsmokers are just the latest mega-stars to lend their talent to Wynn Nightlife’s much-acclaimed, uber-luxurious entertainment experience. The DJ duo join other returning resident-DJ stars including Diplo, David Guetta, DJ Snake, Alesso, and Skrillex, as well as new residents including Duke Dumont, Robin Schulz, and Cedric Gervais.
Before they kicked off their multi-year residency at Wynn earlier this month with an epic performance at XS, we caught up with The Chainsmokers to learn more about what has helped springboard them to pop-world domination, what fans should expect from their shows at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore and how their lives have drastically changed in only a matter of months.
If people want to see The Chainsmokers in a club it’s going to be at XS or Encore Beach Club. What is the appeal of a club show for you guys? I imagine there’s an intimacy you don’t get at big-scale festivals.
Drew Taggart: Playing at a club is a more laid-back environment and it’s definitely one we’re more comfortable with just because it’s how we came up. It allows you to look around the room and you can actually make eye contact with people. You get a very different feel from the room than you would playing to a massive festival crowd. We change our sets to appeal to that. Also, playing in Vegas especially, everyone is there to have a good time. So we play some stuff that we probably wouldn’t play anywhere else. Some throwbacks. You also know the age group that’s there so you remember the things that are really gonna resonate with them that they grew up on. We wouldn’t do that in a normal Chainsmokers show or a festival setting. But it’s really fun and works really well for Vegas.
If you were going to have a residency, was it essential it be at a premier resort like Wynn Las Vegas?
Alex Pall: Absolutely! Honestly when dance music was blowing up Wynn Nightlife had been onto it for a while. But back then though we didn’t know Vegas very well. We just loved dance music and wanted to be a part of it. Our whole career has been a kind of stepping stone process of working our way up. It was during these last three years that we realized how special it is to get to play in Vegas and how amazing a property like the Wynn Resort is. A good example would be the way they maintain the celebrity status. We would always be getting text messages from other artists being like “Yo, we’re in town!” We’d be like “Dude, come through.” And they’d be like “Alright, we’re just gonna go to XS.” Wynn and XS and Encore Beach Club and all the people there, everyone is so great.
DT: Because of the history of the Wynn there’s a real community there. They’re not new to this. They know how to have fun.
As pop stars how much important is for you two to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s hot in music?
DT: We’re huge music fans in general and we’re always looking to hear what’s next. That’s what we’d be doing even if we weren’t doing music. It’s part of our lifestyle. What has been really liberating is we haven’t really given our set any rules. I think that’s why our sound has changed so much. We let ourselves create whatever we’re feeling in that moment. We don’t worry about what we’ve done before or what people think about us. It’s just like “Hey, this is fun and exciting. Let’s do this!” We’re just try to have fun with it. We keep the pressure off ourselves. In terms of creative freedom we feel pretty liberated.
When did it hit you that your lives had completely changed?
DT: I think the beginning of that phase started when “Roses” came out. A lot of the songs before that we hadn’t really found something that was truly ours. “Roses” was the first song where we stopped worrying about if people would play this on the radio or if people would play this in the club. We just said, “This feels good and I want to make this.” And that feeling is what we do now. But that was the first time we really clicked in to who we are as artists and where we want to take this project. That was a really great moment.
What has surprised you guys the most about your incredible past year?
DT: If you had told us three years ago we’d be doing all this we would have never imagined. But it’s been such a progressive escalation. We’re very lucky for that. It’s like “OK, I guess now we have to perform on award shows.” “OK, now I guess we have to go on Jimmy Fallon.” Now people are writing gossip articles about us. Getting nominated for a Grammy. That’s something I dreamed about as a kid. I watch the Grammys every year with my parents and would be talking about how someday I hoped I’d just get to go to the Grammys let alone be nominated for one. So there’s been so many amazing things we’ve been lucky enough to experience in a short period of time. You’re constantly being caught off guard.
Was there ever a point at which you guys were wondering whether a career in music was going to pan out?
AP: You never know where this journey’s gonna take you. When you get to where you’ve been traveling its always surreal. I remember sitting in our apartments four years ago and being like “How sick would it be to play stages like Avicii and Swedish House Mafia and make really dope music that everyone could jump to?” Now that we’re here, we’re lucky enough to have a really great support from our manager, our agent, our girlfriends, and our friends. So we try not to get caught up on the hard moments. There have been times when we got dropped from our label or, like Drew said, people are writing negative stuff about us. That can be challenging to overcome but we have each other to rely on and you just remind yourself why you’re doing this. It’s not about fame and fortune; it’s because we genuinely love doing this. That’s all that matters. It was never like “Oh, man. We’re not rich yet!” or some nonsense like that. It was never like “Should we stop doing this?” It was always “Yo, 10,000 people listened to our Soundcloud song yesterday. That’s incredible!”
Your ascentseems super organic.
AP: Yah! That’s always what it was. We really love what we do.
The Encore Beach Club pool parties are notoriously epic affairs. Do you have anything special planned for those gigs?
DT: The summertime is so fun in Vegas. We’re looking forward to being at a new property and a new pool party. Those are always super fun. The only thing is it’s always super hot. Sometimes you’re coming from another show and you don’t pack athletic shorts or a bathing suit and you’re up there and it’s 120 degrees in Vegas and you just have to endure that.
You need to hire an assistant to keep you properly outfitted.