Ian Axel -- About to Pop
By Adam Horne Posted Feb 23rd 2011 05:50PM
Video: 'This Is the New Year'
Hails From: Fair Lawn, New Jersey
For Fans Of: Ben Folds, Ben Kweller
Why He's About to Pop: You may not recognize Ian Axel's face just yet, but if you're an avid TV watcher, chances are you've heard his song 'This Is the New Year.' The talented young singer-songwriter got the kind of big break musicians can only dream of when he was contacted by producers at MTV interested his using his inspiring tune as the theme for their new show 'I Used to Be Fat.' Now every week, viewers get a taste of Axel's charming piano-pop sound (and those so inclined can hear even more on his recently released album, also titled 'This Is the New Year').
Axel recently treated the PopEater staff to an intimate performance during a visit to our New York office. Read our interview with Axel and have a look at photos from his visit below.
Seven Questions With Ian Axel:
What was the inspiration behind 'This Is the New Year'?
I think people use the new year, the holiday, as an excuse to make the necessary changes that they have to make in their life.
How did MTV hear about you and your music?
A couple years ago the guys at Bunim-Murray reached out to us and they had just become really big fans. I don't think they're related to this but I'm not sure what happened, if the word got around, but someone wrote to my IanAxel.com email address and it was about placement on this new TV show. It came out of the blue.
What did you think when you heard your song would be on MTV?
I smiled. I'm excited about it because the message of the show is consistent with the song. It's about kids who are overweight at the end of high school and want to start their lives fresh as they go to college. It's like a raw, real reality show, not like 'Jersey Shore.' But I'm excited because it's crazy to think that these songs that I write in my room when I'm alone are gonna be on MTV and other people are gonna be listening to it. It's absolutely insane, and I hope it's always insane and it always feels insane.
Do you feel like your music business degree from NYU helped you get where you are?
Yeah. I'd rather dive into the music but the business is a real part of it and it's definitely helped. I know what the hell is going on when we're having technical discussions. I feel like everywhere I go I see people from the program.
Who are some of your big songwriting influences?
I really like film scores and Danny Elfman, he hits me right here. I really like Randy Newman, I relate to those guys because they were in pop bands, they're singer-songwriters and they're scoring. My vision for this is, eventually I see a bigger production.
Some of your songs are very personal, making direct references to people in your family. What is 'Gone' about?
When I first started opening my mouth and singing, I would sing about my family. I don't know how to say "I love you" to them and I wanted to be able to, so I started writing several songs for them. It's changed a lot, but I went home for Thanksgiving and being away from home for a while and coming home, you can see all the dysfunction. I'm ready to take the next step in talking to them.
[While writing 'Gone'] I was thinking about what if something were to happy to me today or tomorrow and I never got to say the things that I've always wanted to say?
Is it hard for you to play the same material over and over again and still connect with it?
Sometimes. But not yet. I hope not ever. A little with one song, but I'm learning as I do this that the more open I am and the more of myself I put out there, not only does it help me deal with the situation but also I actually feel more of a connection. The things that you're scared of, that you try to suppress are actually the things that people love about you. And I'm always forgetting that and I rediscover it every time I play. Before I play a show I have no idea what I'm doing and part of me is like, "I don't even know why people are there." It's natural to start putting myself down, but you have to stop thinking because your mind gets in the way of everything.
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