Music Adam Young is Owl City. 
Special to Juice.

Adam Young is Owl City. Special to Juice.

Owl City’s Iowa tie

Published on August 6th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

Adam Young, the multi-instrumentalist behind the electronic act Owl City spends his life touring large cities, but he’s a small town boy at heart.

Born in Centerville, Ia., Young still makes his home base in Owatonna, Minn.

“I’m a pretty introverted guy. I don’t need to be immersed in social situations,” Young said during a phone interview. “When I can get away by myself, that’s how I recharge. Having that balance to touring and traveling and playing live shows really juxtaposes with my slow lifestyle at home.”

Home has always been a big part of Young’s act. Owl City broke through in 2007 after Young uploading songs to MySpace that he had recorded in his parents’ basement. His debut album, “Maybe I’m Dreaming,” was a viral success and got him signed to Universal. In 2009 Young had his first No. 1 with “Fireflies.”

The sudden success meant figuring out how to translate the music he had been writing and recording himself into something that could be performed by a live band. While composing, Young had never given any thought to that kind of thing; he said it was creation for the sake of the moment, with no master plan behind it.

“When the opportunity came about to start doing shows, I was faced with how to translate what was on the album,” Young said. “How do you translate what was one (person) going and working in so much layering and re-create that and make it interesting and compelling on stage?”

Young said his approach was to not try to re-create the songs to the note. A lot of the synth tracks on Owl City recordings are re-created on guitar for live shows. He wants things to be recognizable, but also new.

One of Owl City’s more recognizable songs is the No. 1 duet with Carly Rae Jepsen, “Good Time.” Jepsen will be in town next week at the Iowa State Fair. Young said he reached out to Jepsen before “Call Me Maybe” hit it big.

“I sent her the track and said I thought she would be perfect for it, but if she wasn’t interested, not hard feelings,” Young said. “We couldn’t physically get in the same room, because she was on tour. But she found a studio somewhere on a day off and recorded her part. The first time we met face to face was when we recorded the video a few months later. It was an interesting way to collaborate with someone.”

The Owl City albums “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and “The Midsummer Station” were released about a year apart. Young said he has already started work on a follow-up, saying this is his favorite period in the process of making an album.

“I’m kind of in the middle of this great place where I’m gathering ideas and collecting thoughts and planning the next release,” Young said. “This is probably my favorite part of putting out albums, where nothing is in finalized and a set schedule is not really in place. I get to just disappear for a bit and create.”

Owl City

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Simon Estes Amphitheater, 75 E. Locust St.

Cost: $22 in advance, $25 day of show

Info: or

About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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