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Owl City

Owl City in 2009
Background information
Origin Owatonna, Minnesota, United States
Genres Alternative rock, emo, electronica, synthpop
Years active 2007–present
Labels Universal Republic
Associated acts Lights, Swimming with Dolphins, Breanne Duren, Relient K
Adam Young

Owl City is an American synthpop musical project by Adam Young. Young started out making music in his parents' basement in Owatonna, Minnesota, later developing a following through his MySpace profile before being signed to Universal Republic.

Young's influences are disco and European electronic music. After two independent albums, Owl City gained mainstream popularity from the 2009 major label debut album Ocean Eyes, which spawned the hit single "Fireflies".




Early years (2007–08)

Owl City was started by Adam Young in his parents' basement while he worked at a Coca-Cola warehouse,[1][2] turning to music as a result of his insomnia.[3] Young received much attention for songs he had uploaded to MySpace, the "viral popularity" of which would later result in his signing to Universal Republic.[3][4] In 2007, Owl City released an EP titled Of June, followed by the 2008 release of the album Maybe I'm Dreaming. Of June reached #20 on the Billboard Electronic Albums chart, and Maybe I'm Dreaming peaked on the same chart at #16.[5]

Owl City's first two records were released while Young was unsigned. In early 2009, music industry website "Crazed Hits" leaked that Owl City signed with the major label Universal Republic.[6]

Ocean Eyes (2009)

Owl City's third album Ocean Eyes was released on iTunes July 14, 2009, with the physical release following on July 28, 2009. The album debuted at #27 on the Billboard 200. Owl City has released four singles, "Hello Seattle", "Hot Air Balloon", "Strawberry Avalanche", and "Fireflies".[7] "Fireflies" topped the US and Canadian charts and became the most-downloaded song on iTunes in the US. Ocean Eyes reached the top ten on the US album charts and topped the US electronic charts and also reached Amazon MP3's top 10 most downloaded album list. By December 2009, it was certified Gold in the United States. On 24 January 2010, Owl City reached the number 1 spot in the UK Top 40 Singles chart with "Fireflies".

Young is joined by Breanne Düren on several tracks; the most noted being "The Saltwater Room." Owl City's live band consists of: Breanne Duren (background vocals/keyboards), Matthew Decker (drums), Laura Musten (violin), and Hannah Schroeder (cello). He will likely collaborate with Lights in early 2010 on his new tour in the US, Asia, Australia and Europe.[8][9]

Relient K vocalist Matt Thiessen has toured and collaborated with Owl City on several tracks including in the hit single "Fireflies", where Matt can be heard as the backup vocals. Young also produced Relient K's song "Terminals". Thiessen stated that it is very likely that he and Young will produce a side project called Goodbye Dubai in the future.[10]

"Fireflies" was released as a free download on the iPod/iPhone game Tap Tap Revenge 3 by Tapulous. Prior to the July 14, 2009 internet release of Ocean Eyes, and the "Fireflies" single, Steve Hoover was hired as a director for a music video for "Fireflies". The video had an exclusive premiere on MySpace,[11] but was leaked onto the video viewing websites, YouTube and Dailymotion hours earlier. "Fireflies" became a big sleeper hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States for the week ending November 7, 2009.[12]

Owl City is featured on Soundtrack 90210 with a song entitled "Sunburn", which was released on October 13, 2009.[13] Owl City has toured with The Scene Aesthetic and Brooke Waggoner.

On Monday, December 7, 2009 Owl City was shortlisted as one of the 15 acts for the BBC Sound of 2010.

Owl City is currently touring with Lights and Deas Vail.

Influences and contemporaries

Owl City has been stated to play within the musical genres of electronica, synthpop, emo and alternative.[14][14] Young has stated that he is inspired by disco and European electronic music[15] and also lists Self, Imogen Heap, Relient K, Boards of Canada and Armin van Buuren as influential artists.[citation needed]

Owl City has been compared to The Postal Service, with a number of publications going as far as accusing Owl City of "ripping off" the Postal Service.[16][17]

Adam Young suggested in a 2009 interview with The New York Times that Owl City is perhaps the "next chapter" after The Postal Service:

[The Postal Service] released a record in 2003, and that was it. There was really nothing to compare it to until some one else came along and wrote the next chapter. Maybe that's this record. Maybe that's this band.
—Adam Young, The New York Times, From Mom’s Basement to the Top of the Chart[18]

Other projects

Adam is also the lead of four other projects, Port Blue, Windsor Airlift, Insect Airport, and Seagull Orchestra, each of which are based around a specific genre, such as ambient sounds and oceanic music. The majority of these projects consist of songs entirely constructed from the sounds produced by a synthesizer, and do not include accompanying lyrics. These four side-projects are not as popular as Owl City, Adam's main project, but have a small fan-base of around 500.[citation needed]


Studio albums


  1. ^ Riemenschneider, Chris (2009-02-17). "Whooo's Owl City?". Star Tribune (Minneapolis). Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  2. ^ Sisario, Ben (20 November 2009). "Adam Young, aka Owl City, Finds Pop Success". New York Times. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Frenette, Brad (2009-07-28). "Band of the Day: Owl City". The National Post. Archived from the original on 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  4. ^ Leahey, Andrew. "Owl City - Biography". Allmusic. Archived from the original on 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  5. ^ "Owl City > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  6. ^ Wilhelm, Alex (2009-02-07). "Owl City signs to Universal Republic". Crazed Hits. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  7. ^ "Free Download Owl City's new track: "Hot Air Balloon"". 
  8. ^ "Winter 2010 US Announced, plus debuts in Asia, Australia and Europe". 2009-10-12. 
  9. ^ "Winter 2010 Tour Pre-sale Has Begun!". 2009-10-16. 
  10. ^ "Interviews | Relient K". Indie Vision Music. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 
  11. ^ "Info On MySpace premier of Fireflies Music Video off of an Owl City Fan Website". 
  12. ^ Pietroluongo, Sylvio (2009-10-29). "Owl City's "Fireflies" Lands at No. 1 on Hot 100". Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  13. ^ "Sunburn". Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  14. ^ a b Leahey, Andrew. "Owl City > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2009-11-05. "He eventually combined those diversions into a blend of electronica and emo-pop, ..." 
  15. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (2008-06-01). "Hot New Band: Owl City". Spin. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  16. ^ Westhoff, Ben (2009-10-28). "Owl City: The Latest In A Long Line Of Rip-Offs". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  17. ^ Cohen, Ian (2009-11-05). "Track Reviews: Owl City - "Fireflies"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  18. ^ Sisario, Ben (2009-11-21). "From Mom’s Basement to the Top of the Chart". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 

External links


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