From a humble bedroom recording studio in small town Owatonna, Minnesota (AKA Owl City), singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Adam Young, has hit the big time.
After his electropop project gained a huge following on Myspace, he was signed to Univeral Republic. His 2009 hit single, “Fireflies,” went global, propelling Adam on the road to superstardom. Insomniac and self confessed music geek, Adam took some time out of his hectic schedule to speak with Tokyo Weekender ahead of the Asia leg of his “All Things Bright and Beautiful World Tour”.
I’m still doing the whole thing in my basement. In the past year I have been so blessed to get all the resources I have dreamed of, to do what I want to do at home, in my own little studio. That’s where I have done everything thus far, although it would be fun to meet with another producer who does what I do and just kind of ‘nerd out’.
When I started, my parents said “Stop making noise and do some homework!” Once this whole thing started to take off in the Myspace days they were like “we don’t really understand, but we’re 100% behind you.” They’ve always been very supportive.
My new record, “All Things Bright and Beautiful” was largely drawn on the past year and a half. A crazy whirlwind kind of happened to me, compared to some of my earlier records that were written mainly from my imagination, because at that time I hadn’t really done anything or been anywhere. On my last tour I was able to visit places I’d only dreamed about like Japan, Australia and New Zealand. All those experiences influenced my current record.
I was always the guy at the back of the bus with his headphones on. There’s something about sitting down not to specifically write a song but to just mess around, that’s when the magic happens for me. So I try and create those moments whenever I can.
I was really inspired by Tom Delonge who after Blink 182, founded Angels and Airways. I’m also really into movie scores, there’s a composer called Thomas Newman (Wall E, The Green Mile) there is something very interesting about his musical thread, just playing five seconds of his music and you instantly know its him.
I try to have a hand in my music videos. I always try and get into the same room a the director and we bounce ideas off each other. It’s pretty exciting if you can match the imagery to the idea behind the music.
There’s something anonymous about the internet that I’ve always loved. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, without the internet I couldn’t have done any promotion work, or spread the word for myself or my music.
If I left my computer at iPod at home I’d be hurting pretty bad… If I have a new idea for a new song I have to get it down on my laptop right away.
On Twitter (@owlcity) I follow Tailor Swift and the Darth Vader. I don’t know who writes it [@darthvader] but it’s pretty funny!
The songs that I’m most excited about generally come about when I’m messing about. When I’m talking on the phone or at the keyboard, my left hand just plays the keys without me thinking—sometimes I have to call people back because I need to demo it out.
I think Tokyo is at the very top of my list of places to perform. This will be my second time, I’m really looking forward to it though I’m not super excited about the long flight!
If you told me two or three years ago that I would perform in Japan I wouldn’t believe you: Last time I came was very cool and very surreal; I remember seeing octopus ice cream, I didn’t try it but it looked amazing!
Playing Shibuya AX in 2010 was wonderful. I can honestly say that was one of my favorite shows I have ever played. There is just something about the energy in Tokyo and something about being so far away from home.
My heart goes out to those that suffered in the earthquake. I’m so excited to come back to Japan!
Owl City is playing at Shinagawa’s Stellar Ball on October 22. Nearest station Shinagawa (JR/Keikyu lines).
For tickets to Owl City: www.smash-jpn.com
Owl City official site: www.owlcitymusic.com