(Radio.com) When Ian Axel transferred to New York University his sophomore year, he couldn't have imagined that he would find his musical soulmate. But that's exactly what happened.
Axel met his future A Great Big World bandmate, Chad Vaccarino in a music publishing class. From the moment he saw him he was convinced that Vaccarino would be the one to help him finish a musical he was writing. But Vaccarino was too busy working on his own music to help him make Axel's Broadway dreams come true. Of course, that didn't stop Axel from following Vaccarino around campus in hopes to change his mind. "I found him in one of the rooms and I made him listen to the music I was writing," Axel told Radio.com.
Axel's persistence paid off since Vaccarino instantly liked what he heard. "I freaked out," Vaccarino said. "Right after he started playing, immediately I was like, 'Oh my God! What are you doing with your life? You should be singing these songs. You should be a solo artist. Don't worry about it; I'll take care of it.'"
Vaccarino put his own passion for singing on hold and embraced his business side, taking over as Axel's manager making his first order of business to sign him up for vocal lessons. The focus remained on Axel until 2008 when they wrote the song "This Is the New Year." "We just decided that Chad should take a verse," Axel said of the track. "That was a song that people started gravitating towards."
After the guys saw some pick-up for the song, they decided to write music for both their voices and with a little help from Kickstarter, the duo — who initially considered naming their project Ian & Chad, before settling on A Great Big World — raised nearly $22,000 to fund their debut EP in 2012.
The two later shot a very low budget video for the track against a white wall at a friend's party and the song started getting wider pick up, including a spot on Glee.
"This past January [Glee creator] Ryan Murphy leaked the video a week before it aired and that launched the band and exposed us to different people and radio stations and got the attention of record companies," Vaccarino said.
L.A. Reid and Black Magnetic/Epic Records came on board in May and the guys went into the studio to record the songs they had written, including current single "Say Something," which they wrote in 2009 and was previously released by Axel under his solo project. The week they finished recording the song a choreographer reached out and asked to use it in an episode of So You Think You Can Dance.
But it was one fateful phone call from Aguilera, who was so moved by the song that she asked to be a part of it, which helped propel the New York-based act into the major leagues.