Interview: A Great Big World
Tue, 01 Oct 2013 15:04:15
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A Great Big World Videos
A song can mean so much. It can serve as the soundtrack to a time in your life. It can uplift your spirits. It can ultimately change the world. However, the best songwriters don't set out with such lofty goals. In fact, they simply write what comes from the heart. That's exactly what A Great Big World do on their Say Something EP on October 15, 2013.
It's an artfully crafted collection of some of the most poignant, powerful, and passionate songs you'll hear all year. It's also the start of something Great…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, A Great Big World talk the Say Something EP and so much more.
What ties the EP together for you?
Ian Axel: These four songs are like A Great Big World's reality show [Laughs]. They're all very different, but there's a thread through all of them that ties everything together. They're all positive, hopeful songs. Even the sad one is a hopeful song. We're all about beaming love into the world.
Chad Vaccarino: We try to write from the most honest place possible. These four songs feel really representative of different stages of our songwriter. Like Ian said, we have a thread that ties it together. I hope people will be able to tell it's us.
There's nobody else out there like A Great Big World, but for as unique as you are, there's something classic that harks back to the classic songs of the sixties and seventies.
Chad Vaccarino: You're really hitting good nerves now. That's really amazing. It's such a compliment, and we appreciate it. I think that's what Ian and I are drawn to in general. We're fans of really good songwriting. The Beatles are my favorite of all-time. There's no one better than The Beatles. It's the songwriting that makes them as much as the production.
Ian Axel: There wouldn't be a music business without the songs. That's what it's all about. When Chad and I write together, we don't hold back. We're as honest as we can be with ourselves. When I'm writing with Chad, I feel like I'm writing by myself, because he's a reflection. I feel like I can't write a song without him. I've learned to write with Chad, and I feel like he's learned to write with me.
Chad Vaccarino: I feel like we're in the most comfortable state writing with each other—even more so than writing by ourselves. We can bounce ideas off of each other so honestly and fluidly.
Hearing "This Is the NEw Year" on Glee (TV Series) or "Say Something" on So You Think You Can Dance, what's that like? Does it change the meaning or feeling of the song?
Ian Axel: It feels like an explosion goes off in us. For both of those syncs, we threw parties with our closest friends and family [Laughs]. While it's happening, it doesn't feel like we're processing anything. Then, it starts sinking in. I feel like the meaning of the song just explodes. It means so different things to so many people. We put out a video of "Say Something". It's just the song and the lyrics. If you read the comments, there are comments every day of people talking to the person they love or venting. Someone is talking about their brother who's in a coma and they wanted him to "Say Something". We never thought about that when we were writing the song. We were writing to get through what we were going through. It was therapy for us. The songs belong to everybody. They come from this universal place, and we're just filters for the music and messages. It's really incredible. That's what it's all about.
Chad Vaccarino: We were celebrating the fact there were going to be so many ears and eyes on this one moment that featured a song we wrote in a bedroom by ourselves a few years ago. It's mind-blowing to think so many millions of people are hearing that song in that moment. You can't even process it. It's amazing.
What does that song mean to you guys?
Ian Axel: For both of us, I want to say it's about really letting go. It's growing up. I feel like we lost a bit of our innocence. It was about realizing what we're worth, really loving ourselves, and understanding that to love someone else or be loved by someone else it requires loving yourself. We were both heartbroken in two different scenarios. I was stubborn and scared to let go for many reasons. That's a universal thing.
Chad Vaccarino: The process of writing this was one of gaining an awareness of this relationship. It was sort of built up in my head in terms of what I thought I could be. I'm letting go of that idea. I'm gaining a big understanding of what was going on at that moment. We can get stuck in our heads so easily. That song was me getting out of my head.
Ian Axel: It was such a profound writing experience. It felt like church, even though I've never been to church [Laughs]. We were so deeply wounded at the time. We were feeling all of these things. Part of me died and came back to life. It was a really sacred experience. We write songs because we need to. We grow and learn together from them. Our friendship has developed over the years through writing. Chad spoke of a greater awareness. I feel like that has continued to come through writing. We can step outside of our lives and look at them.
Chad Vaccarino: It's not even just our own lives, but life in general. It's about different situations. Take "Everyone Is Gay". It was an experience of us gaining understanding of sexuality and what that means to society. Writing is an incredible learning process for us.
Ian Axel: We put what we felt into this gift-wrapped box of a song. It was scary putting it out there, but our friends run an advice column called "Everyoneisgay.com", and they asked us to write "the gayest song ever" for them. So, we wrote that song. It was fun for us. As we were writing, we were like, "This is important". There's not a lot of positivity in the world. We started playing it at shows, and we realized how important it was when people were really reacting to it in positive and negative ways. We got our first haters, and we were like, "Oh man, people hate us! We're doing our job!" [Laughs]
If you were to compare the EP to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Ian Axel: I want to say Alice in Wonderland.
Chad Vaccarino:I want to say the same thing [Laughs]. I feel like each song is its own world.
Ian Axel: It takes you on a ride. It's a bit out there and nutty. It takes a lot of twists and turns. You're getting four different songs.
Chad Vaccarino: It's a fun high energy show. We have a full band. All of us—except for Ian because he's sitting at a piano, but we're going to fix that—love to run around and jump like crazy men.
Ian Axel: I'm a crazy man when I play the piano [Laughs]. I've been compared to Animal from The Muppets.
Have you heard A Great Big World?
Watch the "Say Something" Video Below!