A Great Big World get ready to 'Say Something' with debut disc

Great Big World (Handout)

Great Big World (Handout)

JANE STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:38 PM ET

Say Something?

Well, Christina Aguilera did and things took off in a huge way for New York City duo A Great Big World. Fronted by Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino, the singers-songwriters scored a huge iTunes hit with Say Something - originally featured on Axel’s 2011 solo album - after re-recording the piano-driven breakup ballad with Xtina after she first heard it on the 2013 So You Think You Can Dance finale and reached out to them.

“She just wanted to be a part of it,” said Axel, the curly-haired, bespectacled pianist who has since performed the track on the American Music Awards, The Voice and the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

Added Vaccarino, who is pictured in the song’s video standing and leaning against Axel’s piano: “We definitely did not believe it when our manager called us and said that Christina wanted to collaborate with us. It felt like that phone call was a life-changing phone call. And it definitely feels like our life changed forever after that moment. Working with her has been like the best thing that’s ever happened to us. I’m so thankful that she came into our lives when she did. She brought (the song) to a whole different place and she brought it to such a larger platform so fast.”

Now A Great Big World’s debut disc, Is There Anybody Out There?, is poised for a Jan. 21 release - a week after they'll play Toronto’s Drake Hotel on Jan. 14 in their T.O. debut - on the heels of Say Something’s success with the song included in both versions - with and without Aguilera.

We caught up with Axel and Vaccarino, both 28, down the line from Orlando recently to talk about the rollercoaster ride they are on, how TV’s Glee helped launch the band and what they really think of Say Something.

Q. So you two met while in the music business program at New York University from which you graduated in 2007? Did anything you studied prepare you for this rollercoaster ride you are now on?

Axel: We knew how to read a record contract and we understood the publishing side of things. Also, everyone who’s in our program now works in the music industry, so everywhere we go people know us.

Q. Your first break was getting This is The New Year on Glee last January. What was that like?

Axel: I was a solo artist for more than several years, so that song had already been on a few TV shows and featured in a movie (New Year’s Eve). Then Chad and I decided to form A Great Big World in 2012 and right around that time we found out that Glee wanted to cover it. It just got to Ryan Murphy who’s the creator of the show and he was already a fan. It was just luck and timing. We decided to rebrand the song as A Great Big World and we used Glee to really launch the band.

Q. Say Something is such a somber, poignant song, but the rest of the album is upbeat and funny with song titles like Everyone is Gay. Some of those seem ready for the South Park musical treatment. Does that make you nervous?

Axel: We’re actually really big fans of the music on South Park. Besides all the lyrics, the music is really beautiful to us. I’m a little bit scared and we don’t know how people are going to respond to this, but we’re incredibly proud of the album and each one of those songs were significant to us in our lives when we wrote them. We’re being as honest as we can, and that’s all we can do and put that out there.

Q. Did you ever wish another song had brought you this kind of exposure?

Vaccarino: It’s kind of ironic that Say Something is like the big single for us right now because (it’s) one of two songs that are solo songs on the album coming out. And the other songs are both of our voices.

Axel: We were actually pushing back when Epic wanted to push it to radio. We were like, ‘No! No! That’s not going to work!’ In our minds people are going to find out about A Great Big World through an upbeat song that has both of our voices on it. We kind of had to surrender.

Twitter: @JaneCStevenson


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