A Great Big World features the singing, playing, and performance talents of Ian Axel and Chad King. The duo formed while Axel and King were music business students at New York University. In 2012, the duo officially released a Kickstarter-funded self-titled EP. Things quickly took off in 2013 when their single “This Is the New Year” was covered on the hit Fox television show Glee. That same year, A Great Big World signed to Epic Records and released the three-song EP This Is the New Year, which featured the single “Say Something”. A Great Big World would later release a duet of “Say Something” with legendary vocalist Christina Aguilera. In 2014, A Great Big World won their first Grammy for best Pop Duo/ Group Performance.
A Great Big World has just released a follow-up album titled When the Morning Comes and features the lead single “Hold Each Other”. To learn more about Chad and Ian, watch our exclusive interview!
Music & Arts recently sat down with classical crooner A Great Big World to talk shop and discover just why giving the gift of music is so important.
Who inspired you to play and sing?
Ian: I started playing piano when I was three years old. I was really into piano players and singers like Ben Folds, Elton John and Billy Joel. I just learned from mimicking them. I would listen to what they did and try to repeat it.
Did you take music lessons at all as a kid?
Ian: We still take lessons! But I started taking piano lessons when I was five. Practicing was always difficult for me. But I had one persistent piano teacher who used to take the sheet music away from me if I didn’t practice. And so to prove him wrong, I would go out and buy the music and then practice it.
Chad: I took trumpet lessons for five years starting in middle school and then that moved on to voice lessons after college when I met this guy [Ian].
What would you say to parents to encourage their kids’ participation in music?
Ian: In my life, taking part in piano lessons or playing music or being involved in a certain band, like marching band, or anything like that in high school was never forced upon me – it was always my choice. My parents helped me find teachers that enabled me to play traditional classical stuff but also learn modern songs and learn the music that I wanted to play. Music is about having fun and it had been my voice, and honestly, it has helped me find my way through the world growing up when I was a confused teenager.
Chad: I think also having instruments around the house really helped me. I remember my grandma gave her piano to us (Ian – me too!) when I was like eight years old and I just remember being so inspired by the piano. I feel like had I not had that, who knows, I may not have gone into trumpet, and voice and, you know what I mean. So, having instruments around the house was key for me.
What advice would you give to young musicians trying to find their footing?
Ian: To all the young musicians who are trying to find their footing: be fearless, don’t be afraid to show your vulnerabilities, the things that you’re most insecure about are the things that are the most beautiful about you. And, keep dreaming – keep the dreams alive and constantly seek what you want from life.
Chad: To kind of piggy-back on that, I’d say, take risks. Like take risks that you would never take in your life because those are the ones that come out as the inspired ones.
After the worldwide success of your No.1 hit Say Something featuring Christina Aguilera, what’s next for you two?
Ian: We have our second album coming out this November called When the Morning Comes. The first single ‘Hold Each Other’ is out now! We’ve been working on it for – a lot of hours – it feels like forever. We’re very excited about it and are looking forward to sharing it with the world! You can get the album on iTunes and pick up our sheet music at Music & Arts!
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