Owl City is back on tour and heading for Columbus. On July 1, Owl City will be headlining at the LC Pavilion with Mat Kearney as support. The show starts at 6 p.m.
In preparation for the upcoming concert, UWeekly interviewed Owl City about his musical career, where he got the name Owl City and what advice he’d give to promising musicians (hint: It, somehow, involves Twinkies).
UWeekly: What/who is your inspiration?
My imagination claims most, if not all of, my inspiration, and I absolutely love the way I can hand the theme of a given song off to my imagination and let it go to town. In a lot of ways, my imagination writes my songs for me and I just try to be in the right place at the right time. It’s a pretty effortless way of working and it always feels like magic is about to happen.
UW: Out of all the places you have traveled while touring, which is your favorite? Why?
I was head over heels about Honolulu and my tour manager practically had to drag me away. It’s gorgeous. Paradise. It’s time to move.
UW: What do you plan on doing next?
Well, right now I kinda want some food… so I’ll probably go to the fridge and, you know, eat some food. And then after that, who knows! It’s a crazy world we live in.
UW: Why did you pick the name Owl City?
That’s a great question. Once, when I was six years old, my dad and I were snowplowing an empty church parking lot in the middle of the night during a raging Minnesota winter blizzard. My dad had a huge mustache so it was cool. We were bouncing around in the truck plowing up a storm when suddenly an enormous owl slammed into the windshield going way over the speed limit. Unfortunately we killed it but the poor little guy hit US so it wasn’t really our fault. You might say I was never the same after that.
UW: What is the craziest thing that has happened to you while on tour?
One time our drummer fell out of the top bunk screaming and shrieking in his sleep. We tried to calm him down by throwing pillows and blankets and ice cubes at him, but he just climbed back into his bed and resumed his nightly slumber without ever waking up. He has no recollection of what happened to this day.
UW: What has been the biggest challenge for you (either with music or life in general) and how have you overcome it?
I’m really shy, so I’d probably have to credit high school speech class as the biggest challenge in my entire life. I’m not a quiet guy like your best friend’s timid younger brother… my shyness is DEBILITATING. It’s been a huge hurdle throughout my life but I’m not really bothered by it. I just do my own thing and mind my own business and even though my friends sometimes think I’m being mean when I never answer their calls, but honestly, I’m just not really into talking. And if I’m cool with that, everyone else should be too.
Q&A: Summerfest to get a swarm of 'Fireflies' as Owl City hits Milwaukee
If you’ve heard the chart-topping hit “Fireflies,” then you’ve heard Adam Young at his best.
The 24-year-old one-man band that is Owl City created the No. 1 song in his parents’ basement in small-city Minnesota. Not to mention the song wasn’t just No. 1 in the United States but in 23 other countries as well.
Still surprised at where his music has lifted him, Young continues to tour city after city, night after night in the name of Owl City, and on Thursday the tour roulette wheel stops at Summerfest in Milwaukee.
Fans will have the chance to hear hits from Owl City’s debut album “Ocean Eyes,” which went gold or platinum in nine countries. What’s even more impressive is the album was created in Young’s parents’ basement, with no aspirations of reaching this level of success.
However, Young is still a regular guy at the end of the day, playing Nintendo 64 and eating ice cream sandwiches after shows.
Young even went back to his roots in Owatonna, Minn., where he created “Ocean Eyes,” to create his latest work, “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” He also went back into the basement, this time in a converted studio in his own house, to record it.
Young has plenty of new material to share as well, with songs such as “Alligator Sky” and “The Real World,” which encompass Young’s current state of mind. A man of subtle — and sometimes not so subtle — emotions, Young will have the chance to connect with the audience on Thursday night, and this time he won’t be behind his computer.
You created “Fireflies” in your parents’ basement; then it eventually topped the Billboard Hot 100 on two occasions. How surreal is that?
So surreal I can’t even describe it. I’m still kind of lying awake every night just kind of grappling with that fact. For an only child, introverted guy from the Midwest, it’s like something that I never ever imagined happening and suddenly it happened to me. I was sort of chasing this wild rollercoaster, just trying to catch up with it because it just started to snowball. It was this beautiful, surreal moment and it still is. It’s just unbelievable.
With the success of “Ocean Eyes,” do you feel more pressure to be successful with the new album?
While I was making this record back home in the studio, I felt a little bit of pressure from all angles and probably more pressure from myself. … But I think ultimately it was positive pressure and it was pressure that helped mold the result. It was a little bit scary for a few moments here or there for me just to come to grips with my own writing process. Like saying, is this the song I want to go with at this place on the record? Or are these the chords that I want to play here? Is this lyric the right choice for this song?
Your songs are playful and they present an element of make-believe. Do you still live like a little kid?
Yeah, in a sense. I really love whimsical songs and I just love the idea of innocence as an influence in terms of writing music. I love the idea of these very optimistic, sort of uplifting types of songs with maybe an undercurrent of melancholy to give it kind of this slightly more mature feel. I love that kind of marriage between two different emotions that you put together under this umbrella of imagery. And for me, that’s always been my message I guess, to whoever’s listening. Just this idea of the world being such a beautiful place and sometimes the trick really is to push back all the clouds, and all the smoke and all the debris long enough to be able to glimpse that beauty.
What’s the trick to putting on a great live show with such computer-generated music?
That’s always been a huge undertaking mainly because of the way the music is put together. A lot of master sessions on a given song clock in at around 80 tracks or so. Obviously, we can’t fit 80 musicians in a tour bus (laughs), so it’s always been tricky to kind of divvy out the most important parts to about six of us onstage, but it’s been a great challenge.
I recently stumbled across a blog written by Carl King about the phenomenon known as the introverted human being and it struck a major chord with me. After each bullet, I felt like standing up and shouting “YESSSSSSSSS!” at the top of my lungs because these points (made by author Marti Laney, Psy.D) are total home runs. As an extreme introvert, this is like sweet manna from heaven.
I was lucky enough to discover a book called, The Introvert Advantage (How To Thrive in an Extrovert World), by Marti Laney, Psy.D. I feel like someone has written an encyclopedia entry on a rare race of people to which I belong. Not only has it explained many of my eccentricities, it helps me to redefine my entire life in a new and positive context.
Sure, anyone who knows me would say, “Duh! Why did it take you so long to realize you’re an Introvert?” It’s not that simple. The problem is that labeling someone as an Introvert is a very shallow assessment, full of common misconceptions. It’s more complex than that. (Since Carl King is talking about it, it has to be.)
A section of Laney’s book maps out the human brain and explains how neuro-transmitters follow different dominant paths in the nervous systems of Introverts and Extroverts. If the science behind the book is correct, it turns out that Introverts are people who are over-sensitive to Dopamine, so too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts them. Conversely, Extroverts can’t get enough Dopamine, and they require Adrenaline for their brains to create it. Extroverts also have a shorter pathway and less blood-flow to the brain. The messages of an Extrovert’s nervous system mostly bypass the Broca’s area in the frontal lobe, which is where a large portion of contemplation takes place.
Unfortunately, according to the book, only about 25% of people are Introverts. There are even fewer that are as extreme as I am. This leads to a lot of misunderstandings, since society doesn’t have very much experience with my people. (I love being able to say that.)
So here are a few common misconceptions about Introverts (I put this list together myself, some of them are things I actually believed):
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.
It can be terribly destructive for an Introvert to deny themselves in order to get along in an Extrovert-Dominant World. Like other minorities, Introverts can end up hating themselves and others because of the differences. If you think you are an Introvert, I recommend you research the topic and seek out other Introverts to compare notes. The burden is not entirely on Introverts to try and become “normal.” Extroverts need to recognize and respect us, and we also need to respect ourselves.
Interview: Owl City's Adam Young and His God-Inspired Music
Owl City’s Adam Young recently spoke with The Christian Post about what it means to be in the secular world of music as an artist and how his God-given songs has literally saved a girl from committing suicide.
Although his music is not labeled as Christian, his second studio album, All Things Bright and Beautiful, now available in stores, includes a Christian-themed song, “Galaxies,” that sends a message to people that “even amid tragedy, victory can be achieved through Christ and through Him alone,” shared the Minnesotanative.
The following are excerpts from the interview.
CP: When you first began, no one really knew you were a Christian. Since you began speaking about your faith people probably thought of you as a Christian guy writing great songs, of course, without having to put a Christian label on your music. Do you feel like the Christian audience expects more God-themed songs now?
Young: I honestly just try to stay out of it! My prayer is just that God give me the songs He wants me to sing and that they will be extremely “usable” by whatever capacity He chooses to use them. I feel like anything beyond that is almost none of my business!
CP: Since your success, have you encountered things going against your faith?
Young: Not really, to be honest; at least nothing that’s come at me from the “industry” side of the tracks. I try to surround myself with great people and I think that’s ultimately what keeps the temptations at bay while I’m out on the road.
CP: Do you have any stories to share of people telling you how much your music inspired them?
Young: One girl told me she was at the end of her rope and had a handful of oxycotton pills, ready to end her life … and then my song started playing over the radio and it made her stop and think. She thanked me for saving her life and that meant more to me than you can imagine!
CP: You made your own version of “In Christ Alone,” should we expect a few more songs?
CP: I assume that “In Christ Alone” is special to you. Are there any other Christian songs or Christian artists that you follow and are inspired by?
Young: I’m very much inspired by the music of Mark Schultz and Nichole Nordeman.
CP: A few musicians and Hollywood actors abandon their faith for various reasons, the concern is not just for musicians or actors but kids leaving home and abandoning their faith after. What advice do you have to parents or to teens to prevent it from happening?
Young: Stay in the Word. The moment you start letting go of that, you’re on the road to compromise. Stay grounded, remain pure, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
CP: What were you thinking of while working on this album All Things Bright and Beautiful?
Young: Generally, anything my imagination latched onto, I just started writing about. Thematically, however, the new album is very much centered around a very organic, natural, “forest” inspiration, very much fueled by my dislike of big cities and my appreciation for the pure, unspoiled innocence of the deep countryside.
CP: Is there a story behind the idea for the alum?
Young: Not particularly; the album is merely a collection of songs that portrays who I am as an artist in the present moment. I wrote the record as if it were my first and last piece of art ever to complete and I made sure I was writing from the heart, not for iTunes or Billboard or whatever else is trendy. It had to be very genuine and heartfelt.
CP: Can you tell us a little more about “Galaxies?”
Young: The song is a vivid portrayal to the idea that even amidst tragedy, victory can be achieved through Christ and through Him alone. The song is loosely based around the space shuttle Challenger disaster that occurred in 1986 and what I might’ve thought or felt if I were the flight commander on that ship, suddenly taken from reality into eternity in a split second.
CP: Is there anything you would like to share with the Christian audience specifically?
Young: My prayer is that the music of Owl City serves as a bright light in a very dark place, a ray of hope in this haunted house of a world. I want the Lord Jesus to use my music to do WHATEVER it is He wills.
Only two years ago, Adam Young from Minnesota’s Owl City could be found in a warehouse loading trucks, a job he described as “the worst job ever” in an interview with New Jersey On-Line. However, now Young spends most of his time on tour buses or on stage. A change that he finds “thrilling,” Young attributes his success to the achievements of his first full-length studio album “Ocean Eyes.”
Containing hits such as the quadruple-platinum “Fireflies” and “Vanilla Twilight,” “Ocean Eyes” reached the number one position on the U.S. Billboard charts for Dance/Electronic Albums, Top Rock Albums, and Alternative Albums. Although Owl City, a musical project created entirely by Young, has made a name for itself in the pop music scene, the band did not start of this way. Instead, Young pieced together his first album in his parent’s basement, where he was living at the time. He then posted his songs on MySpace where fans started spreading it like wild fire.
Despite all of his success with Owl City, one thing has not changed for Young. His second studio album, “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” was also recorded in his basement, only this time it was in his own house instead of his parents.
"The only creative aspect I knew was in a basement. So I thought, ‘let’s stick with what I know,’" said Young.
Young is now touring North America with Mat Kearney and Unwed Sailor on the “All Things Bright and Beautiful” tour. This is his fourth tour in North America, and tenth tour overall. Despite his calm appearance and demeanor on stage nowadays, performing live in front of an audience once made him “really, really scared.” However, during his first concert for fans, a sold-out show in China, something changed for Young.
"I started to play my first song to a sold-out room of kids, and they started to sing… they knew all the words. It was incredibly surreal. I was humbled by it," he said.
“All Things Bright and Beautiful” definitely describes life for Adam Young these days.
The 24-year-old from the band Owl City — a musical project created solely by Young — is just thrilled to be on this crazy rock-and-roll ride.
And a stop at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia on Saturday is all a part of this amazing job.
“It’s so insane to me. Two years ago I was working in a warehouse loading trucks, and it was the worst job ever,” Young said in a phone interview. “And now I’m sitting in a tour bus in Orlando.”
His first full-length studio album, “Ocean Eyes,” may have something to do with that.
The small town Minnesota native’s debut CD turned out to be a huge success for the self-described introvert. With hits such as the quadruple-platinum single “Fireflies” and “Vanilla Twilight,” the musician, who started out “making songs by layering different pieces of music” together, ended up putting a handful of those songs on MySpace when that was still popular.
“Kids started to pass my stuff around,” he said.
Eventually, a record company took notice and his life completely changed.
“I started writing (music) from my imagination, picturing all these places I’ve never been to,” Young said. “And six or seven months later I found myself standing on the Great Wall of China … it was awesome.”
His new album, “All Things Bright and Beautiful” has the same electronic/synthpop sound as “Ocean Eyes,” but it’s much more polished, he said.
His first CD was pieced together in his parents’ basement — where he lived at the time — and this one, just released last week, was recorded in his own basement, in his own home.
“The only creative aspect I knew was in a basement. So I thought, ‘let’s stick with what I know,’” he said.
Often compared to The Postal Service — which Young said is “an honor” — Owl City’s songs are known for their optimism. They do have an underlying “melancholic flavor,” though, Young said, and on his new CD, that didn’t change. Songs such as “Alligator Sky,” featuring rapper Shawn Christopher, is about facing the strange and unexpected head-on. Something Young has been doing quite well since his whirlwind success two years ago.
In fact, performing live in front of an audience once made him “really, really scared,” but today, he’s come to appreciate his time on stage in front of his many fans.
“I would head out on stage at a show and think, ‘I don’t know if I can do this,’” Young said. “But there’s always this great moment when I walk out and the butterflies go away and it’s this beautiful, magical hour and a half on stage. It’s this wonderful thing I never expected I would enjoy this much,” he said.
During his first concert for his fans — in China, where he got his to see the Great Wall — something extremely special happened.
“I started to play my first song to a sold-out room of kids, and they started to sing … they knew all the words. It was incredibly surreal. I was humbled by it.”
Owl City Confirms Alaska and Breanne Duren as NZ Tour Supports
“Owl City’s songs mix infectious pop melodies, lyrics about nature and young love, and synthesized instruments.” - FasterLouder
Hot off the heels of the news that indie-synth-pop sensationOwl City is returning to New Zealand for one All Ages show this August, Chugg Entertainment are thrilled to confirm that Auckland based indie outfit, Alaska, and US vocalist,Breanne Düren, will be appearing as special guests for the “All Things Bright And Beautiful World Tour.”
Owl City is the most well known work of the super talented singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist also known as Adam Young, and has gained mainstream popularity with catchy tunes and experimental beats.
Young and his band will kick off the run of Australasian dates at the Auckland Town Hall on Friday 12th August – their second time at this grand venue, having supported Cobra Starship there last year. They continue their tour at The Tivoli in Brisbane on Monday 15th August before heading to Sydney for a show at The Metro on Tuesday 16th August. The Australian tour closes with two special shows in Melbourne at Billboard The Venue on Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th August.
Joining Owl City at the Auckland show is NZ alternative folk indie band Alaska. Forming in 2009, Alaska has always put emphasis on the music. Writing and recording their self-titled EP just a few months after their serendipitous beginning, aspirations to progress in their musicianship has seen Alaska shift their songwriting from the first recordings to the most recent batch of songs and they are currently in the process of recording their debut album. The new compositions maintain elements of the EP, while adding new dynamics and rhythmical movements. With influences ranging from Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens to Chopin, the unique sound that Alaska brings is “atmospherically gorgeous and utterly sincere” (Metro Magazine). Definitely ones to watch for this year, check out alaskanz.bandcamp.com
Also confirmed to warm the stage is pop chanteuse, Breanne Düren. Known to many as the female voice behind Young on some of Owl City’s most striking songs, Düren began performing not long ago whilst still in high school, turning to music to give voice to her emotions. Now she has recorded songs that do the same for others, as she deftly displays on her debut EP, Sparks. Produced by Mike Daly (a former member of Ryan Adams’ band Whiskeytown who has worked with Rachael Yamagata, The Pernice Brothers, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals), Sparks showcases her self-assuredness as a vocalist and talent for crafting a unique blend of pop.
Following this huge debut success, Owl City’s highly anticipated new album, “All Things Bright and Beautiful” is out now. This album showcases a new side of Adam Young’s musical talent and instrumental abilities and the combination of these three acts live on stage is sure to be an event not to be missed.
Owl City’s second album has already topped its predecessor on at least one front: “All Things Bright & Beautiful” debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 album chart today, which is two positions higher than “Ocean Eyes” ever reached. The follow-up album has a long way to go to match the million-plus platinum marker of “Ocean Eyes,” though, but first-week album sales of 48,000 are nothing to squawk (or hoot?) at in this day and age — especially for someone making his records all by himself.
Bad Meets Evil, which is Eminem’s new-ish duo with recent Soundset guest Royce da 5’9,” took the No. 1 slot with 171,000 copies sold, Billboard reports. That’s only about 10,000 copies more than were sold by way-too-cute No. 2 newcomer Jackie Evancho — who’s so sweet, she almost makes Owl City’s Adam Young look more in line with Eminem.
From a local standpoint, “All Things Bright and Beautiful” is the highest-charting album by a Minnesota act since Atmosphere's “When Life Gives You Lemons…” debuted at No. 5 in Billboard. And in case you didn't read our interview with Young at his home in Owatonna, the disc truly is a Minnesota-made album. It also charted at No. 2 on both the digital albums chart and the dance/electronic album chart in Billboard. There’s not much of Owl City on the singles
or airplay charts, though. “Galaxies” is No. 39 on Billboard’s Christian song list.
While most pop stars would stress over trying to repeat the platinum success of his debut album “Ocean Eyes” and the No. 1 single “Fireflies,” the Owl City mastermind doesn’t feel any pressure. In his mind, he’s already won.
"If all this ended tomorrow, I’d still be a happy camper," Young says, calling from a tour stop in Nashville. "I’d still have cool stories to tell my son someday, and I’d get to say, ‘Check out what I did when I was younger.’"
Judging by the strength of Owl City’s sophomore album, “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (Universal Republic), which hit stores last week, Young will soon have more stories to tell his future kids.
Of course, the kids may have some trouble believing their dad since even he can’t really believe everything that has happened to him in the past two years.
"Before this started, I had never been on an airplane," Young says. "I had never seen the ocean. … I was working loading trucks, now, I’ve played Madison Square Garden."
That kind of leap is one few artists ever make and one that even fewer can sustain. Owl City is one of only a handful of artists to transform Internet popularity into a career. It took only a little more than a year to go from posting his demos on MySpace to the top of the pop charts with “Fireflies,” a song that succeeded not by following a set formula, but by building a new one.
"It was so far out of my dream capacity, so far out of reach," he says. "I never even spent any time thinking of having any of the success that I’ve got because it was too big. It really has taken me by surprise."
When it came time to record the follow-up to “Ocean Eyes,” Young could have pretty much holed up anywhere in the world, but he chose his hometown of Owatonna, Minn., in the basement of his own house about a mile from his parents’ basement, where he wrote and recorded his debut.
"I’ve gotten a taste here and there of big city life," he says. "But there is something about Owatonna that I just love. It really gets my imagination going. It gets the gears turning."
"All Things Bright and Beautiful" builds on the synth-driven daydreaminess of "Ocean Eyes" with new layers of inspiration.
"I pulled ideas from a lot of different places," he says. "I was really into early Tribe Called Quest and I listened to a lot of Blink-182 in junior high. I wanted the new record to be a bit unexpected. I wanted it to go down some rabbit holes and off on some wild goose chases."
That helps explain the rapping of Shawn Chrystopher on “Alligator Sky” and the old-school hip-hop vibe on “Kamikaze,” as well as the European club feel of “The Yacht Club” and the single “Galaxies.”
"I ended up letting my mind wander, and I think I got some interesting results," Young says. "I feel like I did the best I could, and that it’s a good next chapter for this shy kid from Minnesota."
Young says he has no idea if the next chapter will bring him more success. “That doesn’t even really register with me,” he says. “I’m so out of my element in this whole career that I’m in right now. … I just want to stay out of the way and do my own thing.”