It’s a new era in Jake Miller’s music career and so it’s only fitting that he is using an unconventional tool, or rather condiment, to promote it.
The Florida-born singer is currently promoting his latest album, the self-released “2:00 AM In LA.” The LP’s first track is “Can’t Help Myself,” a song that is near to Miller’s heart for more than just its lyrics.
“It’s actually the first song really that I ever made completely from scratch by myself,” he told me recently in of all places, Los Angeles. “I’m independent for the first time in a long time so, when I got off the label I kind of went back to the drawing board.”
Miller concluded that he would use his newfound musical freedom by teaching himself how to produce. He went to Guitar Center, bought equipment and “learned on YouTube for 10,000 hours” how to make beats and play piano.
“Can’t Help Myself” was the jump-off for the rest of the album and serves as its first radio single. The song is also accompanied by its own chipotle hot sauce.
“Andrew McMahon reached out to me,” Miller explained. “He owns an organization and he’s like, ‘Do you want to customize your own bottle of hot sauce?’ I’m like, ‘Absolutely!’”
The offering is appropriately titled, “Can’t Help My Sauce” and benefits the Dear Jack Foundation, which “supports initiatives and provides programming that directly benefits adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer to create more positive health outcomes and an improved quality of life for all young adults in this fight” according to its website. McMahon was the founder of Jack’s Mannequin and is also a cancer survivor.
It was the day before The 2017 American Music Awards and we were very, very busy at our backstage perch by Microsoft Theater. The day started with a visit from K-Pop boy band BTS. Demi Lovato, Bebe Rexha and many more swung through as well to talk about the AMAs, holiday plans and more. Watch and listen below!
It is impossible to look back on pop music in 2016 and not talk about The Chainsmokers. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart created two of the year’s biggest hits: the infectious “Don’t Let Me Down” that features 18 year-old Daya and “Closer,” an inescapable duet that Halsey assists on. “Don’t Let Me Down” was the most spun track on pop radio this year and using that particular metric, also the song of the summer. “Closer” spent 12 weeks atop both the Billboard Hot 100 and pop radio airplay charts. Combined with “Roses,” a song that they enlisted an artist named Rozes to sing, the duo sold 10 million singles in the U.S. alone.
Those songs helped The Chainsmokers score an American Music Award in 2016 and three GRAMMY nominations for the award show this February, including Best New Artist.
But as improbable as the DJs success may be (even Pall and Taggart admit they wouldn’t have settled on “The Chainsmokers” had they realized their staying power), what is crazier is that the group’s first two singles are all-but-forgotten about: the novelty track’s “#SELFIE” and “Kanye.”
“’Closer’ wasn’t their first hit,” is the response I received from Jake Miller, a friend of Pall and Taggart’s, recently when I brought up how impressed I was that they were able to shift from tongue-in-cheek records to the highly-coveted lane of radio-friendly pop music. I reminded him that “#SELFIE” was guys’ first single.
“It’s funny you say that because I don’t even think of them for that song,” Miller continued – a sentiment that many probably share and that certainly speaks to how massive the subsequent singles have been. “I honestly completely forgot they did that song.”
For The Chainsmokers, that might be a good thing. Nonetheless, the guys still don’t seem to be taking themselves too seriously.
“We go in with like, low expectations… very low expectations,” Taggart told me before the artists performed “Closer” and won “Favorite Electronic/Dance Music Artist” at the AMAs. “But regardless to be a part of the pop community now and have our work recognized is awesome.”
And the DJs aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Pall and Taggart just dropped a music video for “Setting Fires” off of their EP “Collage.” The duo is also back in the studio creating new music.
“I think the stuff we’re working on now we’re most excited about,” Pall said. “I don’t know if that’s because it’s newest, but it just feels different and exciting. We’re pumped about it.”
The Chainsmokers recently posted on Snapchat a clip of them in the studio with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, an experience that Taggart characterized as “crazy” because the guys grew up listening to his band.
“I think a lot of the music that’s already been out from us is heavily-inspired by Coldplay, especially the emotion that Coldplay has; that melancholy, bitter-sweet emotion that they get in all their songs,” he explained.
Taggart explained that his first goal was to “be cool” and attempt to catch a vibe with the lead singer. Neither man would reveal if they were working on a Chainsmokers project or something for Coldplay’s future (the band recently revealed that an EP was on the way after 2017), but Pall promised that whatever they’re working on, it’s “dope.”
Given the duo’s track record, I’ll take their word for it.
For our first day inside Westwood One’s Backstage at the 2016 American Music Awards, we chatted with Andy Grammer on his Thanksgiving plans, Tinashe on working with Britney Spears and We The Kings’ Travis Clark on covering a song from the hit-musical “Hamilton.” Check out the photos, video and audio interviews below!