A year and a half ago, Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino were two college buddies just looking for a start somehow. They posted something on the website Kick Starter in a grassroots effort for people to believe in their music and help them.
They raised enough money to record six songs and those tracks are starting to make Axel and Vaccarino a known name in the music industry. The two make up the group A Great Big World now, and their music has already played in front of some major audiences: Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance", and "Glee".
Christina Aguilera just posted on Twitter that their single, "Say Something", is her new favorite song. "Just wait. Surprise coming", she replied to Christina Perri, who also said it's her newest favorite.
"We want to connect to people," Ian Axel said. "That's a way for us to not feel alone in what we're going through."
Because, as it turns out, it was heartache that led to the song "Say Something."
"We both were going through severe heartbreaks ... but not with each other," Chad said as he laughed. "The process of writing this was healing... therapy for me."
Writing was therapy for both of them.
"It was a few years ago now that we actually wrote it and Chad and I were both going through a really, really hard time and it was our therapy to get through it and it healed us," Ian said. "When people relate to the song... it takes a weight off of our shoulders."
When a choreographer of "So You Think You Can Dance" used the song, it came as a much welcomed surprise for the two. They had just finished recording "Say Something" and didn't even have it mastered yet.
"It had been used in a couple dance competitions over the years so I feel like it's a little bit known in the dance world," Ian said.
The two didn't even have a band website up yet. But after the song debuted on the show, the track climbed up the iTunes Top Singles Chart. It went on to become one of the highest selling-songs this season and had the largest increase in sales of any song following placement on the show. Epic Records signed them to a deal.
A tour around the country led them to Tampa this week and the Clear Channel studios of Mix 100.7, WFLA-TV's media partner. Coming here was like a homecoming for Chad, who grew up listening to Tampa Bay radio stations in Port Charlotte and then moved to Orlando when he was in high school.
Ian and Chad first became friends while enrolled at NYU and studying the music business. Ian tracked him down one day, Chad recalls.
Ian Axel: "I forced him to listen to the songs I was writing."
Chad Vaccarino: "When he did I was like - oh - we should be friends."
At first, Chad encouraged Ian to start singing and actually became his manager, but they soon realized they belonged on stage together.
Ian, whose musical influences include Ben Folds, and Chad, who says Paul McCartney and Gavin DeGraw are at the top of his "to meet list," hope to also finish a musical soon.
The group's songs were also featured recently in the world television premiere of the original live-action drama, "Contest". The show on Cartoon Network aired in collaboration with their "Stop Bullying: Speak Up" campaign. It was part of a bigger anti-bullying message for October.
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