Andrea A Webber
ANN/THE STAR – American electropop duo Drew Taggart and Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers were in Malaysia recently to perform at Resorts World Genting.
An hour before the concert was set to take place, Taggart and Pall sat down with StarLifestyle for an exclusive interview. At that point of time, they had just arrived in Malaysia on the day itself.
“We initially planned on exploring Malaysia, but then we had to take a 16-hour flight from the United States to Singapore and then fly here (Malaysia) afterwards,” Taggart, 32, said.
“We spent the whole day in our hotel room. We haven’t really got a taste of Malaysia yet… but we’re stoked to be back and perform for everyone here.”
The last time they were in Malaysia was in 2015.
Although the two of them ended up unable to explore Malaysia (they flew off to Vietnam the next day for another show), they did collaborate with two local talents – singer-songwriter NYK and trilingual rapper Yunohoo – on stage that night.
The Americans had chosen NYK and Yunohoo to remix one of The Chainsmokers’ songs prior to the event in Genting Highlands.
Pall, 37, shared that it was a pleasant experience working with the Malaysian artistes.
“They are very talented musicians with a very unique approach to their artistic style. We were truly impressed with the way they reworked our songs.
“It’s not easy to reimagine a record, but they did it in such a way that’s interesting and brings out the beauty of South-East Asian music,” he explained.
TAKING A STEP BACK
The Chainsmokers broke into the music scene with its 2014 single, #Selfie.
A string of Grammy-nominated hits followed, including Don’t Let Me Down, Closer and Something Just Like This.
Everything was going swimmingly for the duo. That is, until it hit a creative block in 2019 following its World War Joy tour.
The Chainsmokers’ members recalled feeling burned out after doing back-to-back shows then.
“I was on antidepressants. We were on this massive tour, we had an album that needed to be finished, and I went through this really tough time of waking up and not wanting to do anything,” Taggart told Billboard.
Pall also mentioned that he felt “lost and uninspired” after doing so many shows without rest.
With all the grinding taking a toll on their mental health, Taggart and Pall decided take a step back from the spotlight to recuperate.
After wrapping up its 2019 tour, The Chainsmokers announced on social media that it was taking a hiatus from the music scene.
Retreating to Hawaii, the two of them started work on the fourth album, So Far So Good, without any deadlines hanging over their heads.
Pall told StarLifestyle this was the first time they had the luxury of an unhurried creative process.
“It felt great being able to work on our music without feeling pressured about touring the next day.
“We would relax during the day, go surfing and then work on our music at night. This is the most rest we’ve ever gotten in our lives,” he said.
Meanwhile, Taggart dubbed the hiatus as one of his most euphoric experiences ever.
“I’ve never felt more inspired and connected to music. Heck, I even threw away my antidepressants by the end of the trip,” he shared with StarLifestyle.
With a refreshed mind and stronger love for music, The Chainsmokers kicked off its ‘So Far So Good’ tour in May 2022.
It toured the US, Canada and Europe before arriving in this part of the world. Next destinations include The Bahamas and Japan.
When asked if it was challenging for them to jump straight into touring after the hiatus, Taggart responded: “We feel more excited than pressured.
“Halfway while working on the album, we wanted to get out there, play shows for our fans and feel the energy, but we couldn’t because of the pandemic. It feels good to be back now.”
Although Pall and Taggart looked tired during our chat, they were all smiles on stage and energetic as they entertained concert-goers with The Chainsmokers’ most notable songs.
PROUDEST WORK YET
So Far So Good – released in May – debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart. The Chainsmokers dubbed this release as “proudest work yet”, explaining that it is different compared to past albums.
“This is the first album without any collaborations. We initially planned to have features, but as we started writing more songs, the statement became more personal and we decided to keep the project solely about us,” Pall said.
With this album, The Chainsmokers hope to give strength to people during difficult times.
Taggart shared that its latest album is inspired by a quote from the French film, La Haine, which begins with a man falling off a skyscraper.
“As he was falling, he kept repeating to himself, ‘So far so good – how you fall doesn’t matter, it’s how you land’.
“We found optimism in that quote and felt that it summed up the message of our album,” he said.
Pall added that this album “felt the most complete” as they were able to “build a story” with it – something they hadn’t done before.
“We were releasing singles by itself previously. Now there’s a whole body of works coming out, it’s something new for us and we’re always open to trying new things,” he elaborated.