Welcome Back to Owl City
Adam Young talks collaboration, being an introvert on stage and prioritizing faith over fame.
You know that other Carly Rae Jepsen song you’ve been hearing on the radio—the one that isn’t “Call Me Maybe”? It’s called “Good Time,” and it’s from Owl City’s latest record, Midsummer Station, out this week.
Adam Young, the shy Minnesotan who wrote the 2009 hit “Fireflies” in his parents’ basement, is back with more hyper-addictive electro-pop melodies that get under your skin and make themselves at home. Midsummer Station doesn’t fix anything that ain’t broke, and it will probably dare you to listen to it in the same way Young’s previous effort did, with a knowing “you know you can’t resist” charm.
I called him in the Netherlands, where he’s in the midst of a world tour, and he tried to put me at ease by commenting on my familiar American accent and graciously launched into the interview.
“It’s frightening when you’re a solo artist and you do everything yourself, to allow somebody else to co-pilot the thing that you held dear to your soul,” Young explains of the collaborations on the new album, which also features Matt Thiessen of Relient K and Mark Hoppus of blink-182.
As a self-professed introvert, Young isn’t completely comfortable with the touring and promoting process, either. “I’m definitely not a very bubbly guy,” he says. “The irony of this whole thing is that I don’t really love people—large groups of people.”
On stage, though, he says it’s a different matter entirely. When Young describes performing recently at a music festival in South Korea, he’s almost at a loss to describe the moment: “It was so powerful because the crowd, every single person, was so into the music, whether they knew every word or not … It felt surreal—it felt like a God moment, you know what I’m saying? Me saying, ‘God, how am I so underserving? To do music—the one thing I’m really good at.’”
Young isn’t just saying that he feels blessed; he’s a devout Christian who speaks sincerely about his faith. After performing each night, he says, he gets into his bunk on the bus and reads his Bible, a practice that keeps him grounded in the mercurial music industry. Young’s voice lights up when he talks about his time spent with God, telling me, “It’s my favorite part of the day, my favorite part of touring, truly my favorite part of my life.”
While Young is grateful that he’s been successful doing what he loves, it’s not what defines him. “After four years of writing music, making records, meeting new people and performing live around the world,” he says, “my relationship with God is still what gets me out of bed in the morning.”
Midsummer Station begins its sugary assault on earbuds August 21, and unless you’ve got your eardrums incased in solid iron, resistance is futile.