*Although I do not choose to advocate crude language in the music I personally create under the Owl City moniker as a representation of myself, I am very fond of this song and its message as written brilliantly by Mike Shinoda. While this remix features my production and musical contributions, I did not have any influence over the lyrics. I am merely a great admirer of the original song and I deeply respect how it addresses societal issues regarding certain types of men (military members, professional athletes, touring musicians, and those separated/divorced) and how their lack of existence in the household damages families.
Literally, these are good times for songwriters Brian Lee and Matthew Thiessen. Their recent songwriting collaboration with Owl City’s Adam Young, “Good Time” featuring Carly Rae Jepsen, is climbing the Billboard Hot 100. The track will be featured on Owl City’s forthcoming album, The Midsummer Station, which is due Aug. 14.
A classically trained violinist, Lee also has an affinity for melodic pop music. “I just love melody,” says Lee, who is also a producer. “I think that’s the main thing that gets your heart when you listen to things.” Lee has collaborated with one of today’s biggest hit makers, Lady Gaga, co-writing ”Americano” and “Highway Unicorn (Road to Love) and contributing backing vocals to “Government Hooker” on her GRAMMY-nominated 2011 album Born This Way.
Thiessen is the frontman for the GRAMMY-nominated five-piece rock band Relient K, who scored a nomination for Best Rock Gospel Album for Two Lefts Don’t Make A Right…But Three Do in 2003. His songwriting experience includes work with Katy Perry and GRAMMY-winning producer Glen Ballard, a collaboration that yielded “Long Shot,” a song featured on Kelly Clarkson’s 2009 album All I Ever Wanted. Thiessen also co-wrote songs on Owl City’s 2009 album, Ocean Eyes, which reached No. 8 on the Billboard 200.
In an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview, Lee and Thiessen shared how they came together for “Good Time,” their musical roots, memorable collaborations, and what they hope to accomplish in the future.
How did you come together to collaborate on “Good Time”? Matthew Thiessen:Brian and I have written a couple times together. And I’ve also written with Adam [Young] from Owl City before. The second time we got together, it was for the “Good Time” session.
Brian Lee: We wrote it on the floor in Matt’s living room, sitting Indian-style around a coffee table with Adam’s laptop. And our only speaker was that Bose iPod thing.
Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” is currently No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. How thrilling is it to be the co-writers of her hit follow-up song with Owl City? Lee: It’s amazing.
Thiessen: Yeah, it’s a gift. I think Adam makes such amazing tracks and his sound is current and fun and not necessarily overthought. And her voice sounds great on his tracks. It’s a beautiful pairing, and I’m glad that the melodies and the lyrics we came up with got to be a part of it.
Lee: I think it’s exciting, but as writers, we always have to be on to the next [song].
Brian, what is your musical background? Lee: I have played the violin since I was 3, not by choice — because you don’t have a choice at 3 — but it’s in my blood.The first non-classical CDs that I bought were ‘N Sync, Boyz II Men and really awesome melody music like Ace Of Base. I just love melody. I love it so much. I think that’s the main thing that gets your heart when you listen to things. People will hum lyrics at a show and they won’t know the words, but they’ll know exactly how the melody goes.
Matthew, how did working with Glen Ballard help your career? Thiessen: I think meeting Glen Ballard when I was young was really important. He taught me a lot. I just kind of got to be a fly on the wall for a lot of songwriting sessions with him and [I] got to listen to him talk and watch how he worked.
What do you both hope to achieve in the future? Thiessen: I’m making a pop record right now with my band [Relient K]. It’s kind of similar to some of the stuff I’ve been writing recently. And Brian’s been involved with a few of the songs. I feel like I’m writing some catchy music and just kind of continuing my band and also just writing with other people whenever I have the opportunity.
Lee: I just want to be known when you hear certain songs — like Afrojack, he has a sound. And Dr. Luke has his sound. They’ve all acquired some kind of staple on their sound. I think I’ve found mine. I just want people to be able to hear a song and [say], “OK, that’s something that Brian did,” [as] opposed to, “That’s a good song. Who did that?”
Owl City’s Adam Young is the rare Minnesota-born musician whose star has risen so quickly and whose music frolics so unapologetically into the mainstream that his relationship with his home state is all but nonexistent.
Adam Young — the Midwest keyboardist who records as Owl City, the “Fireflies”-famous, one-man band he launched from his parents’ basement in 2007 — certainly got lucky with his chart-climbing new single “Good Time.”
When he wrote the optimistic song several months ago, he envisioned it as a boy-girl duet; since their managers were childhood chums, he cold-called then-little-known Canadian artist Carly Rae Jepsen (who went on to own the summer with the irresistible “Call Me Maybe”). She was more than game.
“She said ‘I’m a big fan of what you do — you’ve played in Vancouver a couple of times and I’ve actually been to your shows!’” he says. “So the timing was just crazy. I can’t believe all the dots connected.”
But when Young premieres his latest Owl City album, “The Midsummer Station,” on a club tour that hits The City on Saturday, “Good Time” might be the only celebratory anthem that fans will hear.
Musically, the new recording is synth-fizzy and fun. But lyrically, it’s unusually shadowy and reflective, in self-analytical tracks like “Embers,” “Silhouette,” “Dementia” and “Dreams and Disasters.”
“I’ve never been the guy to write from his own personal experiences, I’ve always preferred to write from the imagination. But this time, I wanted to make sure that nothing was filtered,” says Young.
The singer, who still resides in his tiny hometown of Owatonna, Minn., has long suffered from insomnia, which he combats nightly with heavy doses of melatonin.
In sleep, he regularly is rattled by vivid nightmares, which he bemoans on “Silhouette” in his conversely light, pneumatic lilt: “Tired of waking up in tears/ Because I can’t put to bed all these phobias and fears.”
“I wrote and rewrote that song,” he says. “Just to make sure that everything in there had the right amount of darkness, darkness that I do deal with.”
Sometimes the nightmares even morph into Owl City material. The new tune “Metropolis” was inspired by a dream about Superman and all the emotional baggage he might carry.
Other nights, he says, “I’ll catch the last few minutes of a dream, and even if it was scary or frightening, I have to go into the studio and try to recreate that vibe with music or lyrics, so I don’t forget it. Therefore, I’m up all night. Every night.”
Ultimately, “Midsummer” is about acceptance. About having a “Good Time,” no matter what.
“So writing inherently optimistic-sounding songs with dark, melancholy undercurrents gives me something to latch onto,” Young says. “And if I didn’t have the music to focus on, I’d probably be a mess!”
Carly Rae Jepsen and Owl City: The Story Behind 'Good Time'
After each artist’s debut entry topped the Billboard Hot 100, Adam Young’s electronica project Owl City and pop singerCarly Rae Jepsen have now netted their second top 20 hit — with the same song.
Produced by Young and written by Young, Brian Lee and Matt Thiessen, “Good Time,” the pair’s happy-go-lucky pop duet that arrived at digital retailers on June 26, bowed at No. 18 on last week’s Hot 100, while Canadian Jepsen’s debut U.S. single, “Call Me Maybe,” ruled the chart for its fourth straight week. (“Good Time” moves up one spot to No. 17 this week, as "Call Me Maybe" continues its reign.) The timing of the release will benefit both artists — “Good Time” is the lead single off Owl City’s “The Midsummer Station,” due Aug. 21 on Universal Republic, and the song will also appear on Jepsen’s sophomore album, expected in September.
Jepsen — the former “Canadian Idol” contestant whose “Call Me Maybe” has sold 4.3 million downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan — and Young — the mastermind behind Owl City and numerous other bands whose 2009 single “Fireflies” has moved 4.5 million downloads — hadn’t met before the recording of “Good Time.” But the two 26-year-olds were introduced by Scooter Braun, the head of Jepsen’s new U.S. label, Schoolboy Records, and Owl City manager Steve Bursky. The two impresarios grew up together just outside of New York City and reconnected in 2009, when “Fireflies” was riding high and Braun was managing up-and-comer Justin Bieber.
Three years later, the childhood pals were still trying to devise a way to work together. Bursky sent Braun new songs from Owl City’s next album after Jepsen had signed to Schoolboy/Interscope in February.
"I heard ‘Good Time’ and said, ‘Why isn’t this the first single?’" Braun recalls. After Bursky agreed that Jepsen’s voice would add a whole new sound to "Good Time," Braun brought onboard Jonathan Simkin, Jepsen’s manager and co-founder of her Canada label, 604 Records. Jepsen’s vocals were recorded in March in Ottawa, months after Young had produced the track earlier in the year. The two singers never met until after the single’s release, finally getting together for a video shoot in early July.
For Young, “Good Time” represents the follow-up hit that the introverted electro-pop talent had been seeking since “Fireflies” helped his second full-length Owl City album, “Ocean Eyes,” sell 1.1 million copies, according to SoundScan. The song “Shooting Star” was originally chosen as the impact single for The “Midsummer Station,” but Bursky’s team changed gears in June after “Call Me Maybe” took off. “[Interscope] was looking for another single for Carly,” Bursky says, “and it made a lot of sense. It just feels like a big summer record.”
Bursky adds that the “Good Time” video will be released “as soon as humanly possible.” He says Jepsen and Young have also locked in about a half-dozen major TV opportunities for the weeks surrounding the release of his album, in which the pop upstarts will perform together. As the song continues its top 40 push, Young will continue on a promotional tour that began July 9 in Toronto, followed by a global concert tour starting Sept. 5 in Nashville.
As for Jepsen, a solo single will likely be released before the highly anticipated arrival of her next album, and her opening stint on Bieber’s fall arena tour begins Sept. 29. For the rising star’s team of handlers, placing “Good Time” on her next full-length release was a no-brainer. “From our perspective, it made sense to have it on Carly’s album,” Simkin says. “It’s a great tune.”
I’m excited to tell you that almost all of the The Midsummer Station World Tour is on sale now. Japan goes on sale August 11, Indonesia on July 29. Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan will be on sale this Monday, July 16.
Profiles in Geekdom: Musician Adam Young of Owl City
Imagine this: You start out making music for fun in your parent’s basement. You post some of your songs online. People discover them and like what they hear, and suddenly you have a fanbase. You sign a record deal, create a few albums, and one of your songs hits the top of the charts. And it all started in a basement. Sounds pretty improbable, doesn’t it?
It happened to Adam Young, the singer, songwriter and instrumentalist behind the synthpop act Owl City. Adam, who has a new album called The Midsummer Station that’s due out August 21, was gracious enough to take some time and answer a few questions about the creative process of putting together a song, some of the tools of the trade, and his favorite Internet meme. Here’s what he had to say.
How’d you get interested in music? Did anything in particular inspire you to become a musician?
It was mostly out of boredom. I didn’t have a ton of friends and I had a lot of free time so I started experimenting with music. I had no idea what I was doing, and for some reason I just really took to it. It’s crazy to think how it went from being just hobby to a passion overnight and now it’s all I can think about.
We know you started out making music in your basement. What was your setup like then?
Primitive. I started with Reason 3 on an old Dell desktop with the enormous box monitor. It’s come quite a long way since then.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you get inspiration for your music, and the process of producing a track?
It varies but I get most of my inspiration from my life experiences. I collaborated with a lot of talented artists on this record so some inspiration stemmed from them. When producing a track, I always write music and vocal melodies before lyrics. Once I have a framework built, then comes plugging in the right sounds and the right syllables.
What was the most random piece of equipment you used?
I recorded myself swishing my bunk curtain back and forth on the tour bus and I’ve used the sample on almost every track I’ve ever produced.
Your sound has an almost retro-video-game-music feel to it. We’re a tech site, so we’ve gotta ask, did Super Mario Bros. influence you in any way?
Definitely. The water/ocean levels in Mario were my favorite. More than that however, I’m incredibly influenced by Wave Race 64. Hands down favorite game I’ve ever played.
How was the Internet beneficial in getting the word out on your first album?
Myspace was a way of promoting my music without leaving the house and that seemed awesome to me. Things just took off and I still don’t have any idea how it all came together. I was just in the right place at the right time.
Do you have a favorite Internet meme? Which one?
Socially Lazy Sloth.
Your Twitter stream (@owlcity) seems quite unique. How do you manage it to keep fans both entertained and informed?
It’s fun, it’s always gotta be fun or else it feels forced and annoying to everyone. I just think of witty things and tweet them.
How important is it to engage with your audience using social media? Would Owl City be what it is today without those channels?
Certainly not. I’m not the guy to jump in the car and physically go out and push my music onto people, I just put things online for them to stumble upon and that’s why social media has been huge for me.
What can we look forward to from Owl City in the future?
More records, more songs, just more everything.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to put out their own album?
Stick with what you believe in no matter what it is. Trust yourself and love what you put out into the world!
OWL CITY'S MARK HOPPUS TRACK SOUNDS 'LIKE A BLINK-182 B-SIDE'
Adam Young says he has been a nerdy Blink fan forever
Adam Young claims that Owl City’s collaboration with Mark Hoppus sounds like a Blink-182 b-side.
The track is named ‘Dementia’ and is due to feature on Owl City’s next album ‘The Midsummer Station’, the follow up to 2011’s ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful.’ It has previously been heard on Young’s ‘Shooting Star’ EP which has already been released this year.
Young told MTV News: “It’s definitely Blink-influenced. I’ve been such a fan of what they do, what Blink’s done since junior high.
“I’ll have the CD on in the car, just randomly trying to memorize the lyrics, and that song will come on and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s Mark Hoppus.’ It sounds like an older B-side, rarity Blink track. It’s so cool. It’s such an honour.”
He went on to enthuse about his experience of working with Hoppus, who Young has admired since childhood.
He added: “I learned [from working with him] that it is possible to be at a level where Mark is at and still be incredibly genuine and incredibly real.
“Because, first of all, I’ve never laughed so hard in the session ‘cause the guy’s so funny and he’s always like, he’s like the funny guy who’s in that band and he just has this thing where it’s so him and sometimes you meet people and you’re not sure if they’re really the way they perceive themselves to be.
“But it was so cool and I’ve been such a nerdy Blink fan forever. I was like ‘There he is. He’s in the studio and he’s singing on my song. I can’t believe it.’ Totally [a] dream come true, it was awesome.”
Owl City previously teamed up with Carly Rae Jepsen for a duet, which leaked online last month.
Owl City’s Adam Young on the ‘Good Time’ Video and What Gives Him Butterflies
How long does it take to release three full-length albums and play enough shows for a New York venue to feel like home? For Owl City frontman Adam Young, only three years.Kicking off his second worldwide tour, the 26-year-old of “Fireflies” fame and this summer’s go-to anthem “Good Time” with Carly Rae Jepson returned to the Bowery Ballroom (“it’s like coming home!”) last night, and though he says he’s the “shyest nobody from nowhere,” he owned the stage in the best way a performer can.
Before the show, ELLEgirl had a chance to chat with Young about working his music loves on The Midsummer Station (dropping August 21), the story behind the fantastic cover art, and getting major butterflies.
ELLEgirl: The new album sounds like your previous whimsical work but a new edge, and you worked with co-writers for the first time. Did you have an idea of how you wanted it to sound or was it like, “let the chips fall where they may”?
Adam Young: Kind of 50% of both chips falling where they may and intentionally chasing after a certain vibe. And I think you hit the nail on the head when you said it’s similar to my previous stuff but it has an edge to it, and to me, that’s been in my head since day one. The thing about creating something with a direction is you can’t really direct it to 100% exactly where you want it to fall, especially with co-writers, so it was fun to watch it kind of create itself and give itself magic while still wanting it to be poppier and more polished and dancier. It’s a fun progress to watch on the sidelines.
EG: You got to work with Relient K’s Matt Theissen and Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus—how was that?
AY: I grew up listening to Matt’s music forever, and my manager and his manager put us together three or four years ago saying, “you guys should meet, you’re so like-minded.” We hit it off, and we’re best buds now. He’s such a great guy and a great writer—I want him on every record. And same for Mark Hoppus: I’ve been a huge fan of Blink-182 since junior high. I just finished producing the track called “Dementia,” and I had this empty verse 2, and the song itself is very inspired by a Blink-182 track. I was just like, “what if I dreamed really big, what if I got the track to Mark?” So my manager got the track to Mark’s inbox, and he listened to it, and he liked it enough to fly to New York and we took a day here in the studio and just cut his vocals. There’s this thing where you meet somebody and you feel like you kind of know them based on their persona and their public work, but you’re not sure they’re going to be the same person, but Mark is exactly that—he’s so genuine, and you feel like you know him.
EG: This is your third album in three years, and you’re kicking off your new tour. You must be the busiest guy your age! What’s the secret to your stamina? How do you keep that up?
AY: It’s busy—it’s a good busy. I think the trick is, there’s two different gears: one is studio, and one is touring. And when you spend six months in one gear and you finally switch over, it’s like a whole new lifestyle because suddenly you’re never at home. At least based on where I live—I’m from a small town in Minnesota, in this super-secluded closed community, and my parents live there and all my friends have moved away—it’s just me and my studio, and it’s like my own little world, like an escape. Then when I’m on the road, it’s so different in every way; it’s so new, but that to me is exciting because it’s like, “ah, do I still have it, can I keep doing it, will the butterflies still be as bad this time on the road as they were last time?” usually they are, but it’s cool, it keeps you motivated.
EG: Do you see yourself going on this same trajectory or slowing down anytime soon?
AY: Honestly, this stuff is something I never planned. I kind of know how the cycle goes, how bands will rise and fall and one year they’ll be playing Madison Square Garden, then next year they’re back home in a coffee shop. I get how the cycle works, but to me, that’s exciting. It’s those up and downs that make it fun, it’s all about choices and timing and making sure you’re doing what you can, and it’s all about the chase, just keeping it going. So if I don’t have to get a job at UPS, I’ll be happy for the rest of my life.
EG: You played here at the Bowery a few years ago, your first show in New York. Looking back, if you were to appear on stage, invisible, beside yourself the first time you performed here, what would you let Adam Young know?
AY: I was really naïve, and I still haven’t figured it out. It’s such a day to night thing where it’s like, every night is new and every night it feels like starting from scratch. But I might just say, “don’t hold back, and don’t let the butterflies weigh you down or build up over time.” Like anybody, I need to go home and shut the door and recharge, but I’d say to myself: “see it as something you don’t have to do when you have to wake up at 8 a.m. and do promo or press—those things that are the quote, unquote downsides of the job out on the road. Just live in the moment and see it as something you get to do rather than something you have to do.” At first it was so new to me, I was really trying to figure it out in a split second, but it’s about taking every moment and seeing the good in it and enjoying it. Like the cycle goes: here today, gone tomorrow.
Courtesy of Universal Republic
EG: The cover art for The Midsummer Station is awesome, almost like Hayao Miyazaki’s fantasical work. What’s the story? What’s going on inside these lighted windows? Who lives here?
AY: To me, that’s why the album cover is the album cover, because in my mind it’s like, what’s in those windows, who’s the guy fishing, what’s with the giant whale underneath? To me it’s all about creating scenarios where your mind goes to those questions and you think, what’s the story, I need to know, and if there’s no answer, sometimes it’s interesting because of the ambiguity, you just have to make it up yourself, you have to create your own ending, your own story. But the album artwork, I was just on Tumblr somewhere and happened to see it randomly and it struck a chord with me right away and I was like, this looks exactly the way the record sounds because it’s kind of whimsical and has a dreamy, surrealist quality to it. You look at it and at first you think it’s real and it takes you a split second to think there’s something’s not quite right but in a good way, and I love that about trying to create music that way. How when you first listen through and it feels normal but there’s something a little left of center about it, and maybe you have to go back and listen to it again to really get it. So I just had my manager email the artist saying we love this art, can we have the rights for it, and he was happy to do it.
EG: You recently shot the video for “Good Time” here in New York.
AY: It’s a super summery vibe. When you hear it, you think of summer and what you and your friends do in the summertime, so the setting for the video is in this beautiful campground in upstate New York, very woodsy, leafy, there’s a lake in the background and hills and trees everywhere. It’s me and Carly having a summer day with a bunch of friends, driving convertibles, and hanging around the campfire. Just a concept of a video that just goes with the song: you don’t have to be a scientist to figure out the song, it’s just about having a good time.
Owl City Announces The Midsummer Station World Tour
Owl City has announced a world tour this fall in support of his new full-length studio album, The Midsummer Station – out August 21st on Universal Republic. The tour, which kicks off on September 5th at Nashville’s Cannery Ballroom, begins just two weeks after the album release and will hit major cities across the U.S. and Canada before the North American leg concludes on October 7th at The Crofoot in Detroit, MI. Afterwards, Young will take off to France and make his way from Europe to Asia and finally wrap up the 45 date tour in New Zealand on November 3rd.
The announcement of Owl City’s The Midsummer Station World Tour comes on the heels of a massive first week for “Good Time” – the debut single off Young’s forthcoming album that features a duet with “Call Me Maybe” pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen. The song was added by more than 100 radio stations and sold 140,000 copies in the first week earning “Good Time” a #18 debut on the Billboard Hot 100. The track also found fans in the press with raves coming in from Entertainment Weekly who said the single “…goes down easier than a frozen margarita at a beachfront tiki bar,” Billboard chimed in with “…a track that could become a radio staple for the rest of the summer,” and MTV described the single as “…a sparkling, synth-heavy pop jam that was tailor-made to soundtrack all summer activities.”
With “Good Time” already making itself heard as this summer’s feel-good anthem, Owl City has set the stage for The Midsummer Station. If you miss Owl City this month on his SOLD OUT North American promo tour (which also hits select cities in Asia, Europe and the UK), don’t fret as the fall tour tickets will go on sale July 13th at 12pm local time. For the most up to date information on Owl City, check www.owlcitymusic.com, and check out all confirmed dates for Owl City’s The Midsummer Station World Tour below!
Owl City‘s Adam Young and his band are hitting the road starting Sept. 5 in Nashville and continuing with an international leg of shows that will run through late November.
Promoting the upcoming 4th album, The Midsummer Station, the Owl City tour will feature 23 shows at clubs in the U.S. and Canada, ending in Detroit on Oct. 7. Then the worldwide portion begins Oct. 18 with a concert in Paris. The album will hit stores in August. See dates below:
Owl City 2012 North American Tour Dates: 9/5 – Nashville, Tenn. | Cannery 9/6 – Atlanta, Ga. | Center Stage 9/7 – Orlando, Fla. | Beacham Theatre 9/8 – Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. | Revolution 9/10 – Washington D.C. | 9:30 Club 9/11 – New York, N.Y. | Irving Plaza 9/13 – Boston, Mass. | Paradise 9/14 – Philadelphia, Penn. | Theatre of Living Arts 9/15 – Toronto, Ont., Canada | Phoenix Concert Hall 9/16 – Columbus, Ohio | Newport Music Hall 9/18 – Houston, Texas | House of Blues 9/19 – Dallas, Texas | House of Blues 9/20 – Austin, Texas | La Zona Rosa 9/22 – San Diego, Calif. | House of Blues 9/26 – San Francisco, Calif. | Regency 9/28 – Vancouver, B.C., Canada | Commodore Ballroom 9/29 – Seattle, Wash. | Neptune 10/1 – Salt Lake City, Utah | The Depot 10/2 – Denver, Colo. | Ogden Theatre 10/4 – Minneapolis, Minn. | First Avenue 10/5 – Kansas City, Mo. | Beaumont 10/6 – Chicago, Ill. | Vic Theatre 10/7 – Detroit, Mich. | Crofoot
Owl City 2012 International Tour Dates: 10/18 – Paris, France | Trabendo 10/19 – Zurich, Switzerland | Mascotte 10/21 – Munich, Germany | Hansa 39 10/22 – Frankfurt, Germany | Batschkapp 10/23 – Hamburg, Germany | Knust 10/25 – London, U.K. | Forum 10/26 – Birmingham, U.K. | Library/HMV Institute 10/27 – Dublin, Ireland | Whelans 10/28 – Glasgow, U.K. | Garage 10/30 – Manchester, U.K. | Academy 3 10/31 – Oxford, U.K. | Academy 2 11/2 – Gent, Belgium | Vooruit 11/3 – Amsterdam, Holland | Melkweg 11/7 – Osaka, Japan | Big Cat 11/8 – Tokyo, Japan | Shibuya Ax 11/12 – Taipei, Taiwan | Legacy 11/14 – Jakarta, Indonesia | Tennis Indoor Senayan 11/16 – Auckland, N.Z. | Powerstation 11/18 – Melbourne, Australia | Corner Hotel 11/20 – Sydney, Australia | The Metro
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