A great big world

More than just Christina Aguilera


At the heart of the “future of audio” are people – inspired individuals who dare to give shape to their creative vision and artistic imagination. Decision makers who prefer to reach their audiences and customers through great audio. Audio lovers who work relentlessly on innovative projects, who redefine and recreate sound experiences that touch the very souls of their listeners. “People” is dedicated to all those musicians, artists, engineers, producers, decision makers, owners and audio designers who fill and shape our world with sensational sound.

Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino of A Great Big World show what they are really made of.

Vulnerable and full of emotion, Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino give everything in the music video next to Christina Aguilera. “Say Something” is a pop ballad that has been viewed more than 145 million times on YouTube, and has sold 6 million downloads around the world. The song is sweet and sad – but very honest and therefore touching. What it’s like to be picked up by one of the biggest female singers of our time due to your raw talent and inspiration – and how to find your voice afterwards. An interview with A Great Big World.

A bit shy and then again like an old married couple Ian Axel, the one with the curly hair, and Chad Vaccarino sit down and talk business. Which is personal, if you are a band that is successful around the world and has sold out concert halls from Tokyo to Berlin – especially if you have known each other since college.

“It was never our intention to be pop stars. I mean, not that we are pop stars,” Chad says. “‘Say Something’ got into the pop world and found success there.” "As an unknown band, “imagine getting a call from Christina Aguilera,” Chad says. “It was mind-blowing.” She contacted them out of the blue, after the song was part of the American TV show “So You Think You Can Dance,” and recorded their version of the song together. She told them just to press “record” and see what happens.

“After that moment our lives changed drastically,” Ian says. What followed was an eye-opening year, with challenges and a bittersweet process of growing into a global brand, while still preserving what made them Ian and Chad, the duo, in the first place. “Something we wrote has connected with millions and millions of people, and it’s so hard to even process that,” Ian says.

A Great Big World Live

Bridging the song and the band – an ongoing challenge “It was interesting because the song is not a full presentation of what our band is about,” Ian says. “We are still trying to link those two, the song and the band,” Chad adds.

One link is their emotional and therapeutic writing. “‘Say Something’ was written out of great heartbreak for both of us,” Ian says. “We both had to learn to let go. Honestly, I don’t know how to get through it without writing. I think writing is at the root of our relationship.”

This not only bridges the band and their one huge song, but also speaks to their millions on fans worldwide in its own right. “Creating our sound means being as honest as possible,” Ian says.

“It is not a great big world” – from world tour to Broadway Independent from the language, people all over the world are reacting to the variety of the breadth of songs by A Great Big World. Even when they feel sick or exhausted, they go out on stage and “react to this energy that is given,” Chad says.

Then again, they feel like “we have just touched the surface of our music,” Chad says. The next step will be to finish their Broadway musical. “We have been working on it for a couple of years and as soon as we get home to New York, we are going to finish it up,” Ian adds. And then they are about to start their next album.

Pursue your dreams, and your true sound. This roller-coaster ride of a career made them more aware of the interconnectedness of it all. Also, that they are “not in a box,” says Chad, but really excited for their own ability to evolve: “Just take an ounce of what The Beatles did, their openness to change, and put that into our music.”

After touring the world, “it feels like it is not a great big world,” Ian says. “It sounds cliché but the world is really smaller than we ever thought.” It sounds like anything is possible.