Adam Young performing as Owl City in 2009
|Birth name||Adam Randal Young|
|Also known as||Owl City, Port Blue, Sky Sailing, Keehar, Seagull Orchestra, Insect Airport|
|Born||July 5, 1986|
|Genres||Electronica, synthpop, indietronica, ambient instrumental, EDM|
|Occupation(s)||Producer, musician, singer-songwriter|
|Instruments||Vocals, programming, keyboards|
|Labels||Sky Harbor, Universal Republic|
|Associated acts||Owl City, Windsor Airlift, Port Blue, Sky Sailing, Swimming With Dolphins, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lights, Matthew Thiessen|
Owl City, created in 2007, has enjoyed significant popularity throughout its history. Posting songs to MySpace and iTunes, Young sold 2,000 tracks per week. Young, under Owl City, independently released Of June in 2007 and Maybe I'm Dreaming in 2008. In 2009, Young gained mainstream popularity after signing a deal with the record company Universal Republic and releasing the quadruple-platinum song "Fireflies", from the album Ocean Eyes.
Young began his musical career by creating small musical projects, promoted by himself on PureVolume and MySpace. In 2002 Young co-founded Windsor Airlift with Anthony and Andy Johnson, which has released five studio albums to date.
Young also has other musical projects including Port Blue and Sky Sailing. He is also a co-founder of Swimming With Dolphins.
2002-07: Early career
Throughout Young's early career, he created a number of small musical projects.
- Windsor Airlift
In late 2002, Adam Young, with his childhood friends Anthony and Andy Johnson, founded the punk-pop band, Windsor Airlift. The band released The Basement EP in April 2003 and subsequently began performing at several local shows. Over the next several years, the band released multiple albums and extended plays as well as changed their genre from punk-pop to math rock, and ultimately to ambient post-rock which they are most known for. Though he is still technically in the band, Young ultimately became inactive in the group's life after the 2009 success of Owl City's Ocean Eyes. This, along with Owl City and Port Blue, is one of Young's biggest musical projects to date.
- The Atlantic (Glacier Island)
In 2010, Andy and Anthony Johnson then reformed the project under the name Glacier Island. Since then, the group has released two studio albums entitled From Pelican Shores (2010) and The Campfire Lullabies (2012). Young has not been involved with the project since its resurrection and reform.
- Other projects
In 2005, Young fronted a number of projects: He released a three-song project entitled Aquarium. Like Novel, the project's genre was electronic screamo. Young was also the drummer in a heavy screamo band called Isle. Fellow touring member and friend Michael DeMars (Windsor Airlift) was also in the band. In the same year, Adam Young, Andy Johnson, and Anthony Johnson created a three-song project entitled Charlton Heston and the Blast Beats. The project's sound was humorous as it was a merging of a recording of Charlton Heston yelling (from the original Planet of the Apes film) with the band while pounding on a drum set. Also, Young created a three-song project entitled Can You Smell What The Rock Is Cooking? The project's genre was funk/experimental music. The project made use of sound bites from movies and sport newscasters.
Young created many other projects in 2005 (some of which Andy and Anthony Johnson were involved in) including American Jesus, Apes With Guns, Beat Master Deluxe, Blue Dallas, Half Nelson Flying Corkscrew Clothesline, Join The Dark Side, You Knob (a Star Wars inspired project), Slam Dance, Slingshot Powerbomb, Spinning Skull Smash, The Wellington Giggle-Bomb Experience, Tombstone Piledriver, and Understory.
In 2006, Adam Young, Andy Johnson, and Anthony Johnson started numerous small projects, including a band called Basketball. The band's genre was pseudo rap and made use of the normal rag talk that goes along with the sport of basketball. The project released a couple "promotional"/music videos on Windsor Airlift's YouTube channel. Young was in a wheelchair for part of the project's life, possibly from injury.
Other projects Young and the Johnsons also created included: a one-song project called Chester McWiggins and the Kowboy Kidz, which poked fun at stereotyped yokels and ran on puns about guns, county fairs, and taking care of horses; El Uno Clarence, The One Clarence, whose genre was heavy rock with lots of drums; Keehar whose genre was instrumental rock and whose name came from the black-headed gull from Watership Down; Riders of Rohan, whose genre was experimental and whose name was based off the Riders of Rohan in The Lord of the Rings.
- Seagull Orchestra
In 2006, Adam Young created a project called Seagull Orchestra. The project was mostly instrumental, however one song, entitled "Sailboats", had vocals. The song was later re-written and re-recorded for Sky Sailing's An Airplane Carried Me to Bed.
2007 saw Young and the Johnsons creating the ambient instrumental project, Dolphin Park. The project released four songs which were later converted and re-recorded into Windsor Airlift's 2008 EP, Beneath The Crystal Waves. Windsor Airlift's recurring single, "The Theme for Moonglow", also originated from the project. Young created a project entitled Insect Airport in the same year. The project's genre was electronic instrumental with drums. The project is very similar to Port Blue.[according to whom?] Young also created a two-song project called The Grizzly. The project's genre was experimental. It consisted of Young synthesizing his voice deeply to sound like a "grizzly bear" who was obsessed with food.
2007-present: Owl City
|This section is outdated. (March 2014)|
Young began creating music in his parents' basement while suffering from insomnia. Working alone, Young created a new project in 2007 under the name Owl City. Posting his songs to MySpace and iTunes, Young sold about 2,000 tracks a week and quickly developed a MySpace following.
Young's first musical release under Owl City, Of June, debuted on April 21, 2007. The extended play reached No. 15 on the US Dance/Electronic Albums chart. It has seven tracks, and one, "Hello Seattle", was re-released with Ocean Eyes.
Young's first full-length album, Maybe I'm Dreaming, was released on December 16, 2008, and reached No. 13 on the US Electronic Albums chart.
In 2009, Young signed a deal with the record company Universal Republic. Under this new label, Young released his second full-length album Ocean Eyes and re-released his two previous albums. A single on the album, "Fireflies", sold 650,000 copies in its first week and was the iTunes Single of the Week. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Ocean Eyes reached the top ten in the US album charts and topped the US rock and electronic charts. In February 2010, iTunes released their list of highest-selling songs since 2003 with "Fireflies" listed at No. 24.
After the success of Ocean Eyes, Young began touring internationally. The touring band consisted of Young, Breanne Düren, Matthew Decker, Laura Musten, and Hannah Schroeder. A deluxe version of Ocean Eyes was released on January 26, 2010.
Young released his third album, All Things Bright and Beautiful, on June 14, 2011. The album reached No. 1 on the iTunes Top 10 Electronic Albums in both the US and Canada and received an average of 4.5 stars from customers. The album includes three singles, "Deer in the Headlights", "Alligator Sky", and "Galaxies". The album has a track only available in Japan and the UK, "Shy Violet".
Young stated on his blog in January 2012 that his next album would have the artists JR Rotem, Dr. Luke, Stargate, Brian Kennedy and Emily Wright on board for writing and producing. On May 15, 2012, Owl City released a four-song EP entitled Shooting Star, and later announced that the new album would drop on August 14, which was later changed to August 21. In late May, Young made a four-quadrant revealing cover art event, revealing each of the four squares when 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, and finally 20,000 people share on Facebook or Twitter. On May 29, 2012, the official cover art was revealed. Originally referenced on Twitter as #OCTMS, the OC part being Owl City, TMS was announced as The Midsummer Station. The first single off the album was "Good Time" (featuring Carly Rae Jepsen), the second being "Shooting Star". "Good Time" was released on June 26 on iTunes, and posted to Owl City's SoundCloud account on June 22.
Port Blue is Young's platform for experimental instrumental, ambient and post-rock productions. Under this name Young has released one album, The Airship (2007), and one EP, The Albatross (2008). Besides Owl City, Port Blue is Young's main project.
A great deal of his most successful Port Blue material still remain officially unreleased. Among these is the album How I Became a Sailor, which includes the popular tracks "Seagulls", "Setting Sail", "On Marlin Isle" and "Asleep in the Yacht". Furthermore, the unreleased 2006 Port Blue album Arctic that holds tracks such as "Snow Fox on Glacier Coast", "Glider" and "Deep Iceberg". The 2004/05-produced EP The Pacific—includes prominent tracks "Base Jumping", "Pond Skater" and "Blue Marlin"—remains unreleased.
Commenting on the Port Blue project, Young said:
'Port Blue' is music that can be heard playing in elevators, hotel lobbies, airports, museums and restaurants inside my head. It is the soundtrack to my dreams. If I wrote music for movies, this is what my film scores would sound like. Much of the aesthetic of Port Blue is not what lies in the recordings but rather what is extracted from them...Dreamscapes. No vocals.
In my opinion, there is a huge lack of imaginative, unconventional music being created by artists today and what little there is, goes widely unappreciated by the masses. 'Port Blue' is my attempt at re-creating the music I want to hear and the emotions I want to feel.
I hope you enjoy my art as much as I enjoyed creating it. If by chance you ever feel as though you've come to know these songs, please consider yourself a friend because in a manner of speaking, you know me. This music is my heart and soul. This is who I am. (Adam R. Young, 2006)
I write a lot of ambient music in a solo project by the name of Port Blue which is largely inspired by bands like Unwed Sailor, Boards of Canada and Hammock. I love the idea of creating wordless abstract music without telling a listener specifically what to think or how to feel. It feels limitless because you can go anywhere, do anything or be anyone in your mind. You can let your imagination go and there’s no telling where it might take you. I find my escape in instrumental soundscapes and I definitely plan on writing and releasing more records under Port Blue. It’s very dreamy stuff.
On June 1, 2011, Young announced via Twitter that he was working on a new Port Blue song.
June 2012 Young uploaded three new Port Blue productions to his official Tumblr account.
On March 7, 2013, the unreleased Port Blue EP The Pacific was uploaded to the official Port Blue Soundcloud account—soundcloud.com/portbluemusic. The Pacific is a five-track EP, produced back in 2004–2005.
Sky Sailing was started as Young's first solo project in 2007. It is largely acoustic synthpop, recorded on piano, drum kit, and acoustic guitar. One album was released by the project, An Airplane Carried Me to Bed (on the Universal Republic Records label) on July 13, 2010. The album features some of the early recordings of Adam Young, before he toured as Owl City. It was made available through iTunes and physical CD release.
Young described the collection of songs on his website:
I've kept these recordings secret for a long time and they've never seen the light of day until now. Long before Owl City was ever a spark of a flame, a lot of blue-collared working days were spent absentmindedly daydreaming about what would ultimately become this collection of songs. From the perfectionist musician's perspective, a song is never truly 'finished' but rather 'abandoned' and thus, after a lot of inspiration and reckless experimentation, I emerged from the basement with an 11 song record which I affectionately entitled "An Airplane Carried Me To Bed." - Adam Young
Sky Sailing releases
- Studio albums
- Flowers of the Field (2010)
Swimming With Dolphins
In 2008, Austin Tofte and Adam Young started the electronica band Swimming With Dolphins. The name of the band was derived, according to Tofte, from "some old Jacques Cousteau documentaries from the 80’s". Though Young was never the front man or lead singer, he performed synths and programming for the act. He also served as the producer of the group.
For the act, Tofte and Young created trademark outfits. Tofte took on the appearance of a submariner wearing a classic scuba suit and Young donned a pilot's mask (which would later become Sky Sailing's trademark look).
The band made its debut with the release of their 2008 EP, Ambient Blue. In addition to the main release, the band also put out a cover version of Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" as B-sides single to the EP. The song "Silhouettes", off the release, featured Breanne Düren, who then proceeded to join Owl City's live band shortly after being introduced to Young through Tofte. Later that same year, Tofte, along with Düren, provided Young with backing vocals for a few songs on his debut Owl City album, Maybe I'm Dreaming.
Young departed the band in late 2008 as Owl City's popularity began to increase. Alone, Tofte signed Swimming With Dolphins on to Tooth & Nail Records in mid-2010. About a year later, Tofte released Swimming With Dolphin's first full-length album Water Colours under Tooth & Nail in 2011. On August 5, 2011, Swimming With Dolphins uploaded the official music video for the first single off the record, "Sleep To Dream", via YouTube.
After Young's departure, Tofte was joined by Sarah Beintker and Torrie James as part of his live band. Beinker contributed her vocals to the songs "Holiday" and "Sleep To Dream" off Water Colours. The release also featured the artists Sunsun and Mod Sun (Derek Smith, formerly of Four Letter Lie).
Since 2011, Austin Tofte has released a few singles independently under Swimming With Dolphins and had a successful kickstarter to fund the project's upcoming album, Catharsis. In September 2013, Tofte did an interview with Chris Herlihy's weekly syndicated radio show and talked about the release. Also in September, Swimming With Dolphins released a preview of the new album in the form of a single instrumental track, entitled "Tromsø", via SoundCloud. Swimming With Dolphins also posted a video for "Tromsø" via Vimeo around the same time. The album is expected sometime generally within 2014, as Tofte has not set a release date of yet. According to Tofte, the album is very near completion. On August 21, Tofte stated that the track listing for the album would be revealed shortly. On August 29, Tofte released the raw rough draft of the track listing for the album as well as the cover art for a single entitled "Summer Skin", which is to be on the album. On September 23, "Summer Skin" was released to Swimming With Dolphins' SoundCloud.
Besides Swimming With Dolphins, Tofte was also a member of Owl City's live touring band in 2008.
Swimming With Dolphins releases
- Studio albums
- Water Colours (2011)
- Ambient Blue (2008)
- Catharsis (expected 2014)
Collaborations and other work
Young has provided vocals for different artists/producers and their projects,
- Chicane, Giants – "Middledistancerunner" (2010)
- Armin van Buuren, Mirage – "Youtopia" (2010)
- He Is We, Skip to the Good Part – "All About Us" (2011)
- tobyMac, Christmas in Diverse City – "The First Noel" (2011)
- Paul van Dyk, Evolution – "Eternity" (2012)
- Schiller, Sonne – "Alive" (2012)
- Carly Rae Jepsen, Kiss – "Good Time" (2012)
- Lights, Siberia Acoustic - "Cactus in the Valley" (2013)
- Relient K, Collapsible Lung – "That's My Jam" (2013)
- Ørjan Nilsen, No Saint Out of Me – "In the Air" (2013)
He has also produced music for other artists, including:
- Relient K, Forget and Not Slow Down (Amazon exclusive track) – "Terminals" (2009)
- Jars of Clay, The Shelter (2010)
He has also written songs for other artists, including:
- Abraham Mateo, AM - "Kill the Lights" (2013)
Young has remixed several songs by different artists (usually subtitled "Adam Young Remix"), including:
- Lights, non-album release – "Saviour" (2010)
- John Mayer, non-album release - "Half of My Heart" (2011)
- Something Corporate, Played in Space: The Best of Something Corporate – "I Woke Up in a Car" (2010)
- Breanne Düren, non-album release - "Daydreams (Owl City Remix)" (2011)
- Switchfoot, Vice Re-Verses – "Blinding Light" (2012)
- Fort Minor, non-album release - "Where'd You Go" (2012)
- Carly Rae Jepsen & Owl City, Good Times (Remixes) EP – "Good Time" (2012)
Young resides in his hometown, Owatonna, Minnesota, where he writes and programs all his music. He is an only child, son to Randal and Joan Young.[not in citation given][unreliable source?] He has mentioned he has Asperger's syndrome, and he has often referred to himself as being deeply shy and socially introverted. Young has said that he enjoys photography and considers himself to be an amateur photographer. He identifies himself as a Christian, and writes about his faith on his blog and through his music.
In high school, Adam Young's favorite movie was Heavyweights. His song "Gimme Burgers" from his 2005 side-project Can You Smell What The Rock Is Cooking?, is a tribute to the film. Snippets of the movie's audio are also played in the background of multiple songs by Young's project: El Uno Clarence, The One Clarence.
- Taylor Swift
On Valentine's Day of 2011, Adam Young published a post via his Tumblr blog in which he addressed the country pop singer Taylor Swift. According to Young, the song "Enchanted" off Swift's 2010 Speak Now album was addressed to him. Flattered, Young composed a cover version of the song with some few minor altering of lyrics which he proceeded to send to her on Valentine's Day along with a note.
In 2012, Young stated in an interview that Swift never replied to his message. Months later, Young removed the cover from his website, and in turn, caused it to be no longer available officially.
- The Adventures of Flames Pond
Through 2001-2003, Adam Young, and his childhood friends Andy and Anthony Johnson, created an amateur homemade movie entitled The Adventures of Flames Pond (the title being a pun and reference to James Bond). The movie was filmed in pieces over a period of a few years. The Adventures of Flames Pond was then released in segments on Windsor Airlift's official YouTube channel throughout late 2011 and 2012, and then, in its entirety, on October 1, 2013(due to the success of Windsor Airlift's kickstarter for their album Music). Besides the actual movie, two small videos entitled "Flames Pond's Theme Song" and "The Fuzzy Guy's Theme Song" were released as well.
- Flames Pond - Adam Young
- The Fuzzy Guy - Tony Johnson
- Henchmen - Tony Johnson
- Kid #1 - Phil Hammitt
- Kid #2 - Andy Johnson
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Adam Young: I used to play drums in a heavy band called Isle, largely influence by stuff like Botch, Pelican, Neurosis, Isis.
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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. - Adam Young
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[Adam Young:] I'm from Minnesota, and I have Asperger's syndrome, so I have no idea what karaoke is.
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Probably the book that is super inspiring is a book called Watership Down by Richard Adams. It's from the late 70s, about talking rabbits, and it's a very grounded-in-reality book. It's not a kids' book, but it has to do with these talking rabbits and their adventure, and there's a lot of metaphors and crazy stuff. And that's always been a very inspiring thing. If ever I'm feeling dry, or going through writer's block or something, I just even leaf through some pages of that book and I'm like "Whoa, I have to go make music!"
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$3000 - Flames Pond in its entirety via Youtube - uncut, uncensored, 30+ minutes long.
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