Although Owl City sounds like the name of a band it is in reality a project for singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Randal Young. Even though he'd owned a guitar from a young age it was with music making computer software that the twenty-year-old Young started composing songs and uploading them to MySpace. After receiving positive reactions from early fans through his popular online presence he began to sell his songs via iTunes and independently released the seven track EP Of June in 2007. The following year again under his own initiative he issued his debut album Maybe I'm Dreaming and with the support of his new manager Steve Bursky he signed a recording contract with Universal Republic. The first fruits of the deal came in June 2009 with the digital release of the album Ocean Eyes (the CD was issued the next month) that became a major international hit and peaked at No 8 in the USA and No 7 in the UK. The record's success was helped by the simultaneous release of the charming and infectious single 'Fireflies' that entered Top 10's around the World and topped the charts in seven countries including the UK and the USA where it was certified quadruple platinum. Although 'Vanilla Twilight', 'Hello Seattle' and the download only 'Umbrella Sky' were released as singles, they all failed to crack the Top 40. Off the back of the album's success Universal reissued Young's first album Maybe I'm Dreaming as a physical release for the first time. Owl City supplied the track 'To The Sky' to the soundtrack of the animated movie Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga'Hoole, and followed it with the 2010 Christmas track 'Peppermint Winter'.
While the subsequent album All Things Bright And Beautiful& was less successful around the World it became a bigger hit in his homeland where it debuted at No 6 in the charts. Despite the physical releases 'Alligator Sky' (featuring Shawn Chrystopher) and 'Lonely Lullaby' plus the download only 'Galaxies', 'Deer In The Headlights', 'Angels' and 'Dreams Don't Turn To Dust' the record did not produce any hit singles. Young clearly realised that while Owl City albums were successful, in order to achieve success in the single's chart it might be an advantage to bring in outside help. To this end in order to write and record his fourth album he enlisted the help of several co-writers and producers including Stargate (Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel S. Eriksen), Matt Thiessen (of Reliant K), Robopop (Daniel Omelio) and Kool Kojak (Allan P. Grigg). The record also featured two guest singers, Blink-182's Mark Hoppus featured on the track 'Demantia' while singer/songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen sang on 'Good Time'. Preceded by the four track Shooting Star EP the next album The Midsummer Station was released in August 2012 and faring much better than its predecessor topped the charts in Canada and peaked at No 7 in the USA. 'Good Time' became Owl City's first single to hit the Top 10 (reaching No 8) since 'Fireflies' almost three years previously, although neither of the download only singles 'Shooting Star' and 'Metropolis' managed to chart. In 2013 Young released The Midsummer Station - Acoustic EP, a slightly misleading title as while they are under-produced versions of songs from the previous album ('Good Time', 'Shooting Star' and 'Gold') plus two unreleased tracks ('Hey Anna' and 'Hope You Think Of Me'), they still feature electronic instruments. Young remained below the radar for much of then next year and only re-emerged in the middle of 2014 with the Top 30 four track EP Ultraviolet which contained the lead track 'Beautiful Times' featuring violinist and performance artist Lindsey Stirling. Young/Owl City have collaborated with a number of artists including Armin van Buuren (featuring Adam Young) on 'Youtopia', Here Is We (featuring Owl City) with 'All About Us', TobyMac (featuring Owl City) with 'The First Noel' and 'Light Of Christmas', Schiller (featuring Adam Young) with 'Alive' and Lights (featuring Owl City) with 'Cactus In The Valley'.
Young is immensely prolific and while Owl City is his most visible and successful project he has had many others including several bands, some with friends Andy and Anthony Johnson. Just a few of his bands/projects include: Windsor Airlift, The Atlantic, Sky Sailing, Charlton Heston and the Blast Beats, Can You Smell What The Rock Is Cooking', Novel, Aquarium, Basketball, Chester McWiggins and the Kowboy Kidz, El Uno Clarence The One Clarence, Keehar, Riders Of Rohan, Seagull Orchestra, Dolphin Park, Insect Airport, The Grizzly, Swimming With Dolphins and Port Blue. The only criticism that could be levelled at Owl City would be that while Young's voice is very appealing when listening to one or two tracks in isolation, the studio processing he uses makes it hard to listen to for extended periods. However given his huge number of projects it would seem that Owl City is by its very design meant to have a specific sound and any variation of this formulae would almost certainly surface under a different nom de plume. Given his obvious creativity whether he continues to release records as Owl City or not it's clear that Adam Young will be around for some time.
Copyright © 2016 Omnibus Press