A Abundant Big World—the duo comprised of Ian Axel and Chad King—sometimes can’t accept their eyes and ears. Aback their music is on accepted television shows like Glee or aback they’re assuming at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Appearance or aback they’re administration a song with the all-around icon, Christina Aguilera, sometimes they aloof compression themselves, blessed at the aftereffect of endless of adamantine work.
Together, the two accompany and longtime collaborators (ever aback their academy canicule at New York University) accept formed absolutely hard. Through lots of internal, existential digging, they’ve appear up with a blueprint for autograph that works for them. But sometimes article capricious happens. Sometimes you address a abundant song like “Say Something” and Aguilera calls and wants to sit in.
We bent up with Axel and King to allocution to them about their songwriting process, how they wrote their 2013 piano-based hit, “Say Something” (with co-writer Mike Campbell), which has aback featured Aguilera, becoming a Grammy Award, and garnered over half-a-billion streams on YouTube, alone.
American Songwriter: Before we allocution about “Say Something,” let me ask: how do you anticipate about songwriting in general?
Chad King: I feel like me and Ian use autograph as analysis and one of the big processes that we do is we focus on one emotion, a distinct emotion, and how that feels. So, like, there’s a song alleged “Darling It’s Over,” or alike “Save Me From Myself,” there’s a distinct affect that we appetite to accept threaded through the song.
Ian Axel: We bathe in it and we dive abysmal in it and we try to be as accessible as we can and not abashed to be accessible and to say article in the song that ability accomplish us feel afflictive or ability be a little bit too absolute for us. We affectionate of angular into that.
CK: But again the bigger songs like “Fall On Me” or “Glowing” accept these bigger, added spectrums of capacity and I feel like it’s still a ameliorative action for us. I anticipate both abandon of the bread are absolutely bright in my arch aback I anticipate of it in a autograph sense.
AS: What was the alpha of the huge hit, “Say Something”?
CK: So, in agreement of the absolute songwriting, I had a ballad abstraction that I came to Ian with, like, “Oh, what do you anticipate of this idea?” We were attached at the time and Ian was like, “Oh, I accept this choir idea, what do you anticipate of this?” And we alloyed them calm and that became “Say Something.” But at the time, I was activity through an barren adulation affair with addition and so was Ian.
IA: We were both feeling, like, a lot of pain. And that song was accounting to action the pain. It was actual cathartic. It was a song that bare to be written, we felt. It was not an accessible process. I don’t appetite to say it acquainted violent, but it was rough. Autograph that song was rough. I bethink we both had day jobs and we would accommodated anniversary added afterwards work— anywhere area we could get, like, 10 account actuality or there, like, in a park.
CK: Ian would accept his ukulele.
IA: I had my ukulele with me and we would aloof address —we wrote it on ukulele actually.
IA: It was a adamantine one to address because there’s additionally not a lot of amplitude for lyrics. There’s absolutely aloof a lot of amplitude in the song.
CK: So, every lyric bare to accomplish such a point. And actually, maybe, I accept to anticipate aback on it, but maybe that was the alpha of us absorption in on an emotion. That ability accept been, I don’t know. But it was so important to accept every lyric in that song aloof hit you in the gut. Every distinct one.
IA: I apperceive some bodies say they aloof address the song and it comes to them and it’s calmly accounting in, like, an hour and they accept this masterpiece, or whatever. But for us, we accept moments of that but I feel like autograph a song is a lot of assignment and we put a lot of activity into it.
AS: To get David from a block of stone, you accept to do a lot of work, there’s a lot of refinement, right? Taking being away.
IA: Yeah. It’s also—I accept to get bigger at it but I abnormally am absolutely adamantine on myself. So, I aloof accept to bethink to try not to booty it so actively and to accept added fun with it.
AS: And how did Christina Aguilera get complex in the re-recorded version?
CK: The song was on So You Anticipate You Can Dance and it started aback accepting a lot of fizz from that show. I assumption addition played it for her or she heard it somehow, like, a anniversary or two after and she accomplished out to us and asked if we’d be accessible to accomplishing a adaptation with her. And of course, we said yes and couldn’t accept it. And we were out in a flat in L.A. with her, like, a anniversary later. It all happened so fast.
Photo by Andrew Zaeh
How To Write A Musical Song – How To Write A Musical Song
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