INTERVIEW | A Great Big World's Next Chapter
The Band on Emotional Growth and Record Number Three
"We've found that the more vulnerable we are, the more people tend to connect to the songs. And then we realize we have nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed of, and we feel this sense that we're not alone."
A Great Big World has been filling our hearts with swells of emotion since they arrived on the pop-rock scene in 2012. From big-name collaborations to having a song featured on the television program Glee, and not to mention a Grammy win, a good deal has been accomplished by the duo over the last six years. 2018, however, looks to be their biggest year yet with a smashing new release in the works.
The band answered some questions for us about their upcoming new release and how the guys have changed over the course of their careers thus far.
I know you both met at NYU and started making music together. How do you think your relationship has evolved over the years?
Well we're definitely the most honest we've ever been with each other. There are no longer any filters. Pretty sure this is a good thing but we'll see how the next couple years play out...ha! We definitely bicker a lot. We're basically brothers.
Do you think that your musical style has changed since you started writing and recording?
Yes and no! When we first started writing and putting out music, we were basically kids. Today we have a deeper, more complex perspective on life, and very different experiences to draw from then we did when we first met. So our songs, while still honest and authentic to who we are, are just a bit more grown up, if that makes sense. And we hate saying that cause it makes us feel old. But a big part of what we do in a lot of our songs is to try to keep our inner-child alive...the kid who believes anything is possible. So that spark still flickers in and out of our music. It's just that today, we have a different relationship with who we once were, if that makes any sense at all.
Can you talk a little bit about what inspired the single, "Younger?"
"Younger" was actually the first song we wrote for this third album. We've been feeling pretty nostalgic these days and reflecting a lot on the past and how it's gotten us here. It's actually a bit of a theme on this album. For "Younger," we were reminiscing about the days when it felt like we had less worries and responsibilities. The lyrics in the song are all pretty accurate memories from both our childhoods.
"Younger" also has an amazing lyric video. What made you guys decide to go with a nostalgic video game vibe?
Thanks! Well one of the first things we think about when we were kids were all the video games we used to play. We shout out "Classic Mario" in the lyrics, which then inspired us to start the song with this retro video game inspired keyboard part. One day one of us had the idea to have 8-bit avatars of ourselves go through different video games and getting points for collecting our lyrics. We just wanted to keep it super nostalgic in honor of the song, and authentic at the same time.
Your songs are always really honest and emotional. Have you found it has gotten easier or more difficult to incorporate elements of your lives into your work over the years?
It's never easy! But it's the only way we know how to do this. It's probably because we first write for ourselves. Our writing sessions are like these crazy cathartic experiences...it's like group therapy. And writing about the stuff we go through, or are afraid to face, helps us grow and heal and gain perspective. And yeah...it's really difficult and scary to share these songs with the world, but we've found that the more vulnerable we are, the more people tend to connect to the songs. And then we realize we have nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed of, and we feel this sense that we're not alone...and that these songs are a part of something bigger...and then we can't wait to go back and dig deeper and write more.
You are getting ready to release your third LP. How did the writing and recording process for that differ for you from your previous projects?
For this new record, we decided to go back to where it all started again - writing for the joy of writing. Me and Ian committed to writing and recording only those things that moved us most, and really shut out the outside world during the creative process. We formed a little bubble around ourselves and decided to have our bandmates produce us, since they are some of our closest friends who we can trust (and just so happen to be musical unicorns). So this record is probably the most honest and vulnerable music you've heard from us.
One of your biggest hits, "Say Something," was a duet with Christina Aguilera. Are you planning any other duets for this record or in the future?
There are actually no guest vocalists (with the exception of our friend Hannah Winkler having a cameo on "Younger") on our upcoming record, and it wasn't by choice. It just sort of happened that way. We are super open to more collaborations in the future, if the song or opportunity arises.
What's coming up for you guys in the next year?
We're playing a bunch of shows and hopefully touring soon! And throughout the coming months we'll be releasing new music!
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