It’s A Great Big World, and indeed it is.
In late 2013, a duo composed of Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino, known as A Great big World, were about it make it—big after forming just the year before. When fan Christina Aguilera came knocking on their door to mentor them, it was just the big break they never dreamed imaginable.
Vaccarino and Axel’s connection began when they met at NYU practice rooms while still in college. Combing their harmonic talent, they released a six-song EP funded by Kickstarter. It spawned the viral sensation “Everyone Is Gay”, and “This Is the New Year”, which ended up being performed by the cast on Fox’s Glee. Soon after, Black Magnetic/Epic Records offered them a deal.
Subsequently, the group’s single “Say Something” was released and it elicited a colossal response. After playing during a pivotal segment of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, this little song began its journey to becoming a big platinum-selling hit. One heart that felt it especially hard belonged to none other than Christina Aguilera.
Just one week after receiving an email from Aguilera herself, the unstoppable duo was “in Los Angeles recording it with her,” Axel said.
“Everything just started happening after that,” Vaccarino continued. “Soon, it was like we’d lived a whole lifetime in just a few months.”
A Great Big World (AGBW) went on to perform the song with Aguilera on NBC’s The Voice, and that version took off to #1 on iTunes. The same phenomena occurred after a heartfelt performance at The American Music Awards, which generated worldwide applause. They closed out the year bringing the audience at The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to its feet followed up by sold out New Year’s Eve gigs supporting Maroon 5. However, their journey formally begins with the 2014 release of Is There Anybody Out There?
In this exclusive interview with The Rainbow Times, Axel and Vaccarino open up about their quick rise to fame and journey from here on forward.
TRT: When you were first contacted by Christina Aguilera who wanted to work with you, what were you doing at that exact moment? Where you together when you received the news?
AGBW: We were together (we’re always together) watching Shark Tank and eating lunch. Our manager called us and we could tell in the tone of her voice that she was about to say something unimaginable. After she told us, we were panicking and yelling and laughing. We knew our lives were about to change forever.
Q. What was it like to work with Christina Aguilera in the studio and performing with her on The Voice?
A. We were intimidated at first. We had to build the confidence to feel like we deserved to be there, working alongside of her. She was so sweet and respectful, and very professional. We’ve gotten to spend time with her outside of working, which are probably our favorite experiences with Christina. One night, she invited us over her house to play paintball. It was super fun.
Q. What do you consider your biggest highlight of your career to date?
A. Probably when Say Something went to #1 on Billboard. [It was] a complete dream come true. We went from a band that not many people knew about, to a band that millions of people around the world were connecting to.
Q. What do people not know about you and that would surprise them?
A. Most of our music is actually fun and uplifting, unlike Say Something.
Q. Describe the moment you realized that you were really making it.
A. We were performing at Clive Davis’s legendary pre-Grammy party in LA, alongside Macklemore, Lorde, Imagine Dragons, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell, and pretty much every influential artist imaginable. It was so surreal.
Q. Complete this sentence: A Great Big World is …
A. Fun, love, and hope bottled up, shaken together, and then exploding all over.
Q. What is the most important current event going on that is most important to you? Why?
A. LGBTQ rights and equality. We love who we love.
They closed out the year bringing the audience at The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to its feet followed up by sold out New Year’s Eve gigs supporting Maroon 5. However, their journey formally begins with the 2014 release of Is There Anybody Out There?
In addition to touring, the AGBW is in the middle of writing a Broadway musical and a host of new songs.
“We’re all a part of something bigger,” said Axel. Vaccarino continues, “There is no separation between people. We’re all an integral part of one great big world.”
AGBW will be headlining the main stage at Boston Pride on June 14 at City Hall Plaza. For more information about the duo, visit AGreatBigWorld.com. Information about their upcoming performance can be found in your copy of the Boston Pride Guide, produced by official Boston Pride media partner, The Rainbow Times or visit TheRainbowTimesMass.com to view it online. Learn more about Boston Pride week at www.BostonPride.org and in the pages of this publication.