The show at Portland’s State Theatre Thursday will not be just another gig for Drew Taggart, of the electronic music duo The Chainsmokers.
“I know a lot of people I grew up with are probably curious about what I’ve been up to,” said Taggart, a 2008 graduate of Freeport High School. “So this is a chance for them to come out and see what it is I do.”
Though he assumes old friends will come out to see him, he says he’s not sure what to expect Thursday. The kind of electronic, computer-generated dance music The Chainsmokers create is more associated with the nightclubs of Buenos Aires or New York City than the venues of Portland, Maine. Besides playing big-city clubs, The Chainsmokers also play a lot of outdoor, electronic music festivals.
The duo has played Maine before, at Bates College in Lewiston, but playing to 1,800 people in downtown Portland is likely to be different.
“I have no idea what the scene is like there (for electronic dance music),” said Taggart, 25, who teams with Alex Pall in The Chainsmokers. “Hopefully people will be into it.”
The Chainsmokers gained fame in early 2014 when their song “#Selfie” reached No. 1 on the Billboard dance/electronic music chart, and No. 16 on the singles chart. The video, featuring a self-obsessed young woman chattering on in a nightclub bathroom just before she takes a “selfie” with her phone, was viewed more than 200 million times on YouTube last year.
The song is a parody of the kind of people Taggart sees all the time in nightclubs, after several years of working as a DJ and musician. It was marketed to just those kind of people, via social media, and it became a huge hit.
The success of “#Selfie” allowed the duo to sign a seven-figure record deal, sell out shows around the world, and appear on national TV shows like “American Idol.”
Since last August, the duo has released two more singles – “Kanye” and “Let You Go” – but neither has had the success of “#Selfie.”
Also last year, The duo started working as weekly hosts on Sirius XM radio, talking about music and playing some of the top dance songs of the day. Taggart, who lives in New York, says the radio shows are “fun” and he enjoys the interaction with fans who call in.
But most of Taggart’s time is spent touring the world, including recent shows in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico.
“I guess we’ve gone around the world a couple times,” said Taggart.
Taggart actually got interested in electronic dance music in Argentina, by way of Freeport High School. He had been interested in music from a young age, taking drum lessons for many years. In high school, he asked his parents if he could take advantage of a program that allows students to study abroad for a while. He spent his time in Argentina, where he was first exposed to electronically-created dance music.
When he got back to Freeport High, he did a senior project that included the creation of electronic dance tracks. Then he got admitted to a music business program at Syracuse University, which led to an internship at Interscope Records. In 2011, calling himself D’Anconia, Taggart released an EP of his original electronic music.
After college, he lived at home for a while, before a friend introduced him to Pall, who was deejaying at clubs in New York City. Taggart moved to New York, and began working at clubs with Pall. The pair were still playing clubs, but also touring the U.S. and producing music for indie musicians, when “#Selfie” hit the charts.
But Taggart is most proud of the shows he and Pall put on, where everyone feels compelled to dance and everyone has a good time.
“We’re good performers, and it’s really more like a party than a show,” said Taggart. “No one will be sitting down.”
Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:
IF YOU GO
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $22 in advance; $25 day of show