In the six years since they released their second studio album When the Morning Comes, A Great Big World has been hard at work. The duo, made up of singer-songwriters Chad King and Ian Axel, left their longtime label Epic Records, recorded a new single with former collaborator Christina Aguilera, and found a new sound with their new LP Particles (out now via Ingrooves).
But the two members of the band have also done a lot of growing up, as can be seen on the new record. Ranging from Axel’s reflections on being a new parent on “Glowing” and struggling with his OCD on “Save Me From Myself,” to a sobering coming-out anthem from King on “Boys in the Street,” Particles offers a portrait of two songwriters fully coming into their own.
“The songs on this album were written from an incredibly honest and vulnerable place,” King said of the new album. “It was a cathartic and therapeutic process for us. Our hope is that by being vulnerable, others can connect with us and we can all feel a little less alone in the universe.”
In honor of the release of their new album, Chad King took Billboard’s LGBTQuestionnaire — a series of questions, fill-in-the-blanks, multiple choice answers and so forth — to help the world get to know one half of the group they’ve already grown to love.
Multiple Choice (Answer in italics)
I look at my phone:
I’m looking at it right now
How important is social media to your music career?
Not remotely important
I do it but I don’t love it
Important, but I have mixed feelings about it
Essential and I mostly love it
Would you rather be:
On the town
Rate how strongly you agree/disagree with the following statements (Answer in italics):
LGBTQ representation is improving in the music industry.
Who can tell?
Coming out was easy.
It was complicated.
It wasn’t terrible.
Fill in the blank (Answer in bold font):
Growing up LGBTQ was confusing but also incredibly empowering
Frank Ocean is an LGBTQ artist whose music really inspires me.
The last thing I purchased online was a case of LaCroix sparkling water.
One word to describe my music is honest.
What inspired Particles?
Our own life experiences inspired Particles more than anything. Ian and I write songs as a form of therapy. Writing this album was one long beautiful therapy session.
What was the hardest song to perfect on Particles? What about it was particularly difficult to nail down?
The version of “Fall on Me” that Ian and I sing was a challenging song to get right. We harmonized all the way through and capturing this exactly as we heard it in our heads was a challenge! It was a lot of practice, but I’m super proud of how it came out.
What was the first song you ever wrote? What was it about?
The first song I ever wrote was called “The Best of the Best.” It was a country song I wrote when I was 12 years old about a make-believe girlfriend that I had: “She was intelligent, bright, and funny, level-headed, sweet like honey, she was the best of the best!” I’m literally laughing out loud right now.
You’re trapped on a desert island — what three albums did you bring with you?
The Guest by Phantom Planet
Abbey Road by The Beatles
Grace by Jeff Buckley
Name a Twitter/Instagram/TikTok account you’re obsessed with.
I am the biggest fan of Dr. Mark Hyman and his view on health. I am constantly learning from his IG and from his “Doctor’s Farmacy” posts. His perspective on health is inspiring and I look up to him so much!
What’s your astrological sign? Do you care about astrology?
I am a Cancer (July 10th is my birthday). I’ll say I don’t care about it, but that’s a lie. I read my horoscope every day.
What’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn how to do, but still haven’t gotten around to?
I really want to learn French. I love Paris so much, and the next time I visit I would love to have a conversation in French with a local.
What accomplishment in your career are you proudest of?
I am probably most proud of creating the song “Say Something.” Thinking about the life that that song has had (and is still having!) still blows my mind. Ian and I wrote it when we were both in a dark place, and to see the world connect to it like they have been makes my heart feel so full.
Tell us two truths and a lie about yourself, but don’t tell us which is the lie.
I played Christina Ricci’s cousin in the movie Monster.
I am closely related to Mario Lopez through my mom’s side of the family.
I was fired from Universal Studios as a poncho salesman because I made deals with theme park guests. “You pay for 5 ponchos, I’ll give you 6!”