The Chainsmokers open up about the issues they care about

Story highlights

  • The Chainsmokers talked with CNN about their passion for education
  • "It's really sad to see first hand the kids that are left behind," Drew Taggart said

Austin, Texas (CNN)CNN caught up with The Chainsmokers at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, where the dance pop duo got candid about the issues they care about, including public education and veteran's affairs -- areas that rely heavily on federal funding.

"It's really sad to see first-hand the kids that are left behind and have to grow up without some the resources that you expect most kids to have available to them in America," Drew Taggart told CNN.
Taggart and Alex Pall, who won a 2017 Grammy for Best Dance Recording, won the "Woodie of the Year" award at the MTV Woodies awards and debuted their "Paris VR" video at Sony's Lost in Music showcase in Austin.
    The performance marked the finale of Sony's Lost in Music series, which showcased the integration of Sony's PlayStation Virtual Reality technology with music.
    On Monday, they released "The One," a new single off their upcoming album, "Memories ... Do Not Open," which is out April 7.
    Taggart's family works in the public sector -- his mother and sister are both public school teachers and his father works for the Department of Veterans Affairs -- and he has grown up with an appreciation for public service.
    "The programs that they're involved in, the schools that they're involved with, are just getting cut -- and I've seen the effect that that has on the quality of assistance that they get to provide society," he said.
    The Chainsmokers pose with the Best Dance Recording trophy at the 59th Annual Grammy music Awards on February 12, 2017, in Los Angeles, California.
    The Department of Veterans Affairs has long been plagued by a lack of resources, lots of red tape and long lines that prevent many veterans from getting access to health care and other services.
    "There's just so much bureaucratic bulls---, there's so much paperwork," Taggart said, adding that this prevented his father, who fits wounded vets with prosthetics and orthotics, from spending enough time seeing his patients.
    President Donald Trump unveiled a new office Monday, the Office of American Innovation, that is set to tackle issues like health care reform at the VA. It will be headed by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
    Various public schools around the country are also suffering from a lack of resources.
    Recently, Chance the Rapper brought attention to the state of public education in Chicago by meeting with the state's Republican governor and donating $1 million to schools in the inner city.
    Secretary of Eduction Betsy DeVos, a school choice advocate, has sparked growing concerns among public education advocates that the Department of Eduction will funnel money away from public education to charter schools and voucher programs.
    Pall said he is especially passionate about developing mentorship programs and youth networks to provide under-served children with access to technology and the arts, which are unavailable in various households and at many underfunded schools.
    "It's as simple as being able to go to Best Buy and go buy yourself a laptop," Pall said. "It's about giving them the choice that they choose to be able to follow their dreams ... whether its arts, writing, animating."
    Trump's proposed budget would cut off funding entirely for several programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which provide federal funding to arts and education programs around the country.
    CNN has reached out to the Department of Education and the White House for comment.
    The Chainsmokers perform at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas.
    The Chainsmokers said their love for music drives their passion for the arts.
    Their hit "Closer," featuring Halsey, peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and three of their songs -- "Closer," "Paris," and "Something Like This," featuring Coldplay -- are charting on Billboard's top 20 this week.
    Their latest album focuses on "moments of tension within our lives," Taggert said. "That's the most compelling stuff to us, at least right now."
    "We're producers first and we come from the dance music world, so creating some of the songs fresh (is important) and also inherently, Chainsmokers is really important to us," he added.
    The DJs, who rose to the national spotlight in 2014, are set to headline the 2017 Global Citizens Festival in Hamburg, Germany on July 6 with Coldplay and Ellie Goulding.