10 Questions with ... Owl City
May 23, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Universal Republic
- All Things Bright And Beautiful (2011)
- Ocean Eyes (2009)
1. Tell us a bit about your musical journey. I read a quote of yours that said, "Creating art has been my dream since elementary school." Hindsight is 20/20 and as you look back over the journey, what do you see?
Looking back, I couldn't be more blown away. Two years ago I was loading trucks in a warehouse, taking classes at a community college for nothing, wasting my time and what little money I had, really going nowhere fast. So needless to say, I couldn't be more thrilled and thankful for the wonderful curveball I've been thrown. I'm so thankful that God has called me out of a dead-end blue-collar job where the sun never shone, into something creative and artistic where I feel like the future is bright and sky is the limit.
2. What is the story behind the debut single "Galaxies"?
It's the fictional first-person perspective of the flight commander of the space shuttle Challenger that tragically exploded on January 28, 1986. The disaster was a huge part of my life growing up because it was something my parents referred to all the time (my mother was six months pregnant with me when she watched the Challenger explode on live television) and I wanted to pay respect to the incident via music. The song lyrically depicts what I might be thinking/feeling if I were the flight commander aboard the spacecraft during the exact moment of the explosion. I've often wondered what I might think and feel as my life as a human being on this Earth ended and I was taken into eternity, thus the song is basically a statement to God, declaring that I'll follow him no matter what happens.
3. Is there a message to the songs on "All Things Bright And Beautiful"? Do you craft an album so that the songs work toward a singular point/theme?
There's a re-occurring theme throughout the record that pops up here and there via melodic threads and flavors that all point back to a line in the first track called "The Real World," which states, "Reality is a lovely place but I wouldn't want to live there." I'm a total escapist and I adore the idea of imaging what the world would be like better than it actually is because I think that imaginative approach, namely choosing to view the world around you with a different pair of lenses, ultimately makes the said viewer want to BE better to meet that standard of "perceived perfection" so to speak. This is not to say I'm dying to throw responsibility out the window; I merely enjoy escaping to places where everything is beautiful, and that largely influences the way I think and create music as an artist. Thus, "All Things Bright and Beautiful" is laced with the same conceptual idea from beginning to end.
4. Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
I might choose a song called "Dreams Don't Turn to Dust" because it's an eccentric attempt at marring abstract hip-hop (loosely influenced by A Tribe Called Quest) to a hybrid flavor of electronic pop. I had a lot of fun with the track and it was big experiment that turned out much differently than I had intended. I'm really happy with how it turned out.
5. Who inspires you personally, spiritually and/or musically?
My daydreams play the biggest role in inspiration, although I am certainly very influenced and dream-induced by reading. Namely anthropomorphic literature (stories with talking animals).
6. And do those stories inspire you?
I really enjoy how these kinds of stories are based in reality but involve some twist in reality that makes the overall aesthetic more ambiguous and interesting.
7. Where is your favorite place to play?
I absolutely love playing in Auckland, New Zealand. It feels like another world and I wish I could play a whole tour's worth of shows in the country just as an excuse to stay longer! If it wasn't such a long flight from my hometown, I'd definitely consider moving there.
8. What song do you wish you had written?
"2 Legit 2 Quit" by MC Hammer.
9. Fill in the blank: I can't start the day without:
10. Do you have much time to check out other artists' music? What are you listening to right now?
I'm really into anything by Armin van Buuren right now. I'm huge into European trance: artists like Tiesto, ATB, Ferry Corsten, etc. I'm really fascinated at how airbrushed and beautifully smooth Armin's mixes are, and as a producer, I'm always catching myself with my jaw on the ground, drooling over this kick drum tone, or that high hat loop, or this super wide bass line, or you name it. I really like the mechanics of electronic music, and to me, not many genres showcase the art of progression and "polish" the way trance does.