Alex Pall ’03: Smokes the music industry with The Chainsmokers


Masterpieces 2003

3rd from left Alex Pall in the 2003 Yearbook in the Student Government Club

Lily Zuckerman, Features Editor

Alumnus Alex Pall ‘03 won the Senior Superlative for being “the most studious” of his graduating class in 2003, what he didn’t win was “most likely to win a Grammy.” 

Pall is the DJ and producer in the duo The Chainsmokers along with singer Drew Taggart. The duo won a grammy for their hit “Don’t Let Me Down” featuring Daya in 2017.  Since then, they have been nominated for and won several iHeartRadio Music Awards and Billboard Music Awards. In an email interview, Pall said he was not interested in having a music career when he attended Masters. 

At Masters, Pall was a member of the Boys’ varsity basketball team, Community Government, and the boarding community. Despite being the DJ for a few school dances, Pall wasn’t involved in the musical community at Masters. 

“I did not ever think I would make a career out of being a DJ so I never really pursued anything in that capacity in high school,” Pall said. He continued, “More generally speaking the school really developed me in ways that would become essential to my success, in particular, my focus and dedication to things I applied myself to.” 

Director of Upper School Admission Andrea Fischer class of ‘02 was in the same social circle as Pall. She noted that they were both boarders and were in  a large friend group with both boarders and day students. Fischer recounted what Pall was like in high school. “Alex was really fun, loving, and kind. He was always the life of the party and fun to be around,” Fischer said. She continued, “He had the type of personality that drew a lot of people in; everyone wanted to be around and hang out with him.”

After Masters, Pall attended New York University and majored in art history and music business. Pall noted that he always had a passion for music and hosting events. He said, “One of my greatest joys in life is bringing people together to have a great time and DJing really satisfies both of those passions. It goes without saying but the music-making side is always the best as well, it’s a very cathartic experience– writing songs deeply personal to us– and then seeing people have their own unique and exciting experiences with them.” 

Just eleven years after Pall graduated high school, The Chainsmokers released their debut single “#Selfie” in 2014. The single was charting on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Songs chart. Soon after their debut, the Chainsmokers started to make headlines. They began collaborating with notable musicians like Coldplay, Bebe Rhexa, and Halsey. 

Fischer remembered the feeling she had when she realized Pall was behind the Chainsmokers. 

She said, “Even when I heard it, I had no idea that it was him until like, I didn’t know, he was part of The Chainsmokers until somebody else from Masters had said, ‘You know that’s Alex, right?’ And I was blown away. Because last I’d heard from him, he was in, like, a club scene and promoting and just in a very different space. I didn’t know he was actually an artist and creating music.

Junior Gabriel Heller also enjoys producing music in his free time and has recently been DJing as well. Heller has found major inspiration in Pall who has walked the same halls as him. 

Heller described how Pall has made him grow and inspired him to be a more dedicated musician. Heller said, “Since school takes away so much of my creative side which includes music production, I know that I need to continue to nurture that creative side of myself and cope with school, just like Pall did. Especially because I know music will be a part of me for the rest of my life.” He continued, “Pall’s reputation is usually centered more around his public image as a professional DJ and he often does not receive the credit he deserves for being such a talented producer and musician all around. I am not only inspired by the fact he went to Masters, but by his music in general, which only encourages me to keep working on mine and continue improving.”

Furthermore, Pall hopes that Masters students interested in pursuing a musical career should “hone in on what area of music excites them and expose themselves to the business side, the performative side, and the song-writing side, and really get a sense of what brings them most joy,“ Pall said. He noted that once they have a sense of the aspect that brings them the most joy, “They should work harder at that than anyone else and share their work with the world.”  

Alex Pall DJing at one of his concerts. “The Chainsmokers performing at Grandoozy on September 14, 2018 in Denver, Colorado” by Julio Enriquez from Denver, CO, USA, CC BY 2.0.