How A Great Big World's Ian Axel Found Inspiration After Becoming A Father

by Clint Edwards
Originally Published: 
Joseph Llanes

The Grammy winning Duo A Great Big World is going through some changes that you all might be familiar with… parenthood (cue Jaws theme song). No, parenthood is wonderful, right? Well… most of the time. Sometimes it’s stinky and smelly and keeps you up at night. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it, and that totally doesn’t mean that children aren’t inspirational.

Perhaps what we should actually cue is A Great Big World’s song “Say Something,” which has been on repeat in my kitchen for the past few years. We can’t seem to get enough of that sucker.

Well, A Great Big World is out with a new song titled “You” and it’s all about Ian Axel, one half of the musical duo with Chad King, becoming a father with his wife Lina Axel in May of 2017.

We reached out to Ian for comments on his fatherhood journey, and it turns out he’s not only found inspiration via his son Bowie, but he’s also been hit by the same anxiety most fathers feel after having a child, along with the struggle to be a supportive husband while on the road.

Right after his son was born, the nurse asked him why he hadn’t picked him up and it turns out he was afraid because he didn’t know how. And as strange as that might sound to mothers, when I became a father I had the same fear. I was the youngest child in my family, so I didn’t have much baby holding experience, so I couldn’t help but feel a connection with what Ian had to say.

I suspect this is a larger problem for men than just the two of us. In fact, my wife had to actually force the child into my arms, same as the nurse had to with Ian.

He said that he didn’t know anything, and he was “scared of screwing up somehow, or that it wouldn’t feel natural.” But after a few weeks of being a father, he feels like he was made for the gig.

He went on to say — and brace yourself, because it’s pretty sweet — “It’s as if my love for him unlocked these abilities I didn’t know I had. It’s hard to remember my life before being a dad…it’s such a part of my whole being…my DNA. And it doesn’t hurt that my wife is super mamma. It’s inspiring to see her with Bowie, and she’s also been so encouraging and has helped me feel more and more confident.”

Now naturally, as with any transition, especially becoming a father, it takes adjustment. But if you are like me, you have probably wondered how that works with being on the road as a musician. I only have a 30-minute commute, and I often feel like I’m missing out. I can only imagine how it feels being on tour.

But Ian and Lina have had to find ways to make it work, just like all of us. He mentioned that being a dad and a musician “has its pros and cons” just like anything.

“When I am home, I really do get to spend a lot of quality time with him,” he said. “And when I travel, it’s really difficult to be away from him, but it helps me to never take the moments I have with him for granted.”

Turns out his wife is pretty stellar, like all moms. “We’re doing what we can to make sure we don’t spend too many consecutive days apart,” he told us. “I’m lucky to have such an amazing, supportive wife who is willing to be flexible, spontaneous, and improvise the way we live our life together as a family.”

And it’s great that he recognizes that. There are few things worse than flying with a baby, so yeah, Lina’s awesome.

Ian has found new inspiration because of his son. A Great Big World’s new song “You” is basically a love letter to his son that he began writing before the birth, and finished after he became a father. He said it’s about all “those people that come into your life and completely flip it on its head… I was already in love with my son, even though we hadn’t met. It was incredibly cathartic to realize this and write it into a song.”

Kids. The true art generators. Am I right?

You know, if I learned anything from this interview, it’s that being a parent is basically the great equalizer. Most of us aren’t Grammy winning artists, and yet we share many of the same struggles and moments of wonder that Ian felt. A Great Big World’s new song “You” is available for download now. You can also give it a listen below. It’s pretty wonderful and heartfelt. I suggest you check it out.

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