A Great Big World is that band you've been hearing on the radio for a while. They are an indie pop band from New York, formed by Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino in 2011. Their single Say Something brought them huge success and although the song touches our hearts and brings tears to kid's eyes(yes I'm talking about the viral video), their debut album Is Anybody Out There? is filled with very joyful and cheerful tunes.
I had the opportunity to chat with them.
How did you come up with the name?
Ian: We came up with the name from a lyric, one of our song called "cheer up" and the lyric is "it's a great big world and there's no need to cry" and we just felt like that summed up what our music is all about, it's positive and hopeful and larger than life and we wanted to pick a big name. (laughs)
Your songs are very cheerful, how did you decide on this genre of music?
Chad: I don't know if it was a conscious decision. Ian and I are both very positive people and that was just sort of the music that came out and also these songs feel like chapters in our life. Every song that we've written is written for a purpose and it's written for a specific reason. For instance, "Rockstar", we wanted to use that song for motivation and even the song says something. We were both heartbroken and we used that like our therapy to write about the emotions that we were going through.
Ian: We also feel responsibility, I mean people are listening to what we're saying and it's really important no matter what we're doing, to do it with love and to just be positive and enjoy to the world and then everything would be better. (laughs)
What would you say your general message is?
Ian: The general message is, I would say, to be who you are and that we're all connected and that love is the common denominator.
Who/What were your inspirations when you were making your music?
Chad: When both of us were growing up Disney movie musicals were very very big in our homes and I think that definitely has a big influence on our musical style. You know, later on, for me personally in high school and college The Beatles were a huge inspiration and also Stevie Wonder or Boys 2 Men and other soulful artists as well.
Ian: And for me, it was a lot of piano based artists. So, Randy Newman, Elton John and Ben Folds also I am a huge Donny Osmond fan, again that ties into the whole theatrical thing and the music is very theatrical.
Do you do everything together, do you share the work?
Ian: I play piano and I sing, Chad sings and plays a little guitar and trumpet. For the most part in every song, we're both trading of verses, choruses and I think some section in harmony. And Chad has a couple solo songs and I have a couple solo songs.
Your music has a big audience and you've had great success with your song Say Something and 'This is the new year' was covered by Glee. How do you feel about everything going on for you right now?
Chad: It feels like a dream come true. I mean, connecting with this many people is why we're doing this. Connecting with one person is why we're doing this and connecting with millions now is, I don't know, it's beyond anything we could have ever ask for.
Ian: It makes us feel fulfilled and like we're not alone. It's actually quite hard to process most of the time.
You've absolutely blown up in the US, how do you find the reaction generally? Do you connect with the fans through social media?
Chad: Oh yeah we read as much as possible online in the social media and Youtube comments are a big one as well.
Ian: The reaction is great, we feel very close with our fans and that shows they are super engaged and energetic and having a good time and we try to meet as many of them as possible and they're the best.
Would you share some things with young musicians?
Ian: I would say, believe in yourself number one. You have to believe that you can do this or no one's going to believe for you. It can be very hard to follow your heart when a lot of people tell you not to and I would also say that be fearless, when you're writing. Don't be afraid to be who you are and show yourself, that's how you're going to connect with people.
Chad: Risk it all. If this is what you want to do, music is what you want to do, then do it. There's no one stopping you…
Ian: But yourself
Chad: But yourself.
What was the biggest difficulty you had to go through in order to become where you are today?
Ian: I mean, going back to when Chad and I met and we started doing this, it's just really hard. When you're a kid you have all these dreams and as you grow older and you, I am not saying that my family didn't support me and Chad's family didn't because they always did, they always wanted us to do what we loved. It's just hard, because you get scared. There's so many things out there and there's still fear in you. I feel like we learn that we can't achieve our dreams when we get older. So, for me the hardest thing was realizing that I can do this and being fearless and overcoming that fear and just really going for it and, what Chad said, risking it all but you're not really risking anything. I think because doing what you love.
Chad: I think I would say similar. Like, Ian and I had day jobs that we didn't really like but we were writing music that we loved and all we wanted to do was music and to take that leap of faith and jump into music full time was the hardest decision but the greatest decision of our lives.
This duo has so much potential and it's evident in their first album. Their unique, cheerful and musical-y songs are great to get you in a good mood. Their song Rockstar is truly a theatrical experience if you close your eyes and listen so it says a lot about the album itself. Land of Opportunity is up-beat and has innocent, naive lyrics like their other songs. They certainly give a positive message and it's a good change for pop culture. They also succeed in changing their tone as we know from Say Something. Songs like Already Home, I Don't Wanna Love Somebody Else carry the soft, romantic sound they caught with their successful single. I Really Want It stands out with its lyrics. Everyone is Gay is a very fun song that puts a smile on your face as you can imagine from the name. This Is the New Year, also covered in Glee, is a faster song that keeps us tapping our foot to the rhythm. You'll Be Okay and Shorty Don't Wait says a lot about their potential and that they should be more experimental, it also shows the power of their harmony.