Five questions with Owl City

Bradenton Herald – We at the Herald love fireflies — both the glowing insects and the hit song made popular by 23-year-old Adam Young, otherwise known as Owl City. The prolific synth-pop genius and his sold out tour swing through Tampa on Wednesday.

Though the concert at The Ritz Ybor has been sold out for weeks, copies of his successful album “Ocean Eyes” have been downloaded like hot cakes — if you could download hot cakes, that is. In fact, “Fireflies,” which is included on the album, just reached No. 1 on the UK Singles chart.

With his apparent love of fireflies and toys from the 1980s — featured on the “Fireflies” music video — we wanted to see what makes Owl City tick. So we tracked him down via e-mail — the only way he communicates with the media — for a chat and found out the answer: video games. It’s true.

Here’s our conversation:

Why do you refer to yourself as a city of owls?

Well, my hometown is known for its owl population. Big owls, small owls, smart owls, dumb owls, fat owls, skinny owls, tough owls, sissy owls, owls who climb on rocks . . . you name it. Owl City seemed like the obvious choice.

What, in your opinion, is the greatest music lyric of all time by you or someone else?

I actually listen to a lot of ambient music that isn’t lyric oriented, oddly enough. I love abstract music. Stars of the Lid, Helios, Unwed Sailor. Jonathan Ford from Unwed Sailor and composer Thomas Newman are my two biggest influences.

Your “Fireflies” video featured a lot of old school toys. Were any of them yours and what were your favorite toys back in the day?

Those toys were pretty sweet. I actually read a lot when I was younger, and really loved playing this game called Wave Race on Nintendo 64. That game looks the way I want Owl City to sound, if that makes sense. Super nerdy, I know, but it has been incredibly inspiring to me.

Speaking of “Fireflies,” have you ever smashed a firefly on your face so you could glow in the dark?

Hah, no!

What would your life be like if pianos/keyboards didn’t exist?

I shudder to think! Without music, I don’t know where I’d be.

published Jan. 28, 2010

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