For one of the most well known electro-pop artists in the world, Owl City’s Adam Young is definitely humble. As soon as I asked him about his latest album Mobile Orchestra, the 29 year old turned my attention to the myriad of duets on his third studio album.
“It’s actually taken me quite a bit longer to make this album than it has to make any of my earlier albums, probably just due to the fact that this album has so many different collaborations and so many different vocal features on it,” he shares with PPcorn.
“It felt so good to get everybody on the same page and to have everyone contribute, and again, I feel so lucky to have all of these collaborations on the album. I feel like, in each case, each artist added so much heart and soul to each song, than I could have ever done. So I feel very blessed.”
Debuting at No 11 on the Billboard 200, Young collaborates with five artists, including country singer Jake Owen, CCM pop star Britt Nicole, and urban singer Aloe Blacc. “Nine times out of ten I was just in the studio by myself, just writing songs for this album, and toward the end of the process, per each song – for instance the song “Verge” – I was kind of in the eleventh hour of the writing process and…Aloe Black, he popped into my head and I just thought, “Wow, his voice would sound so good on this track, maybe I’ll send him the demo and I’ll cross my fingers and hope for the best. Maybe he’ll be down to collaborate with me.” So I did that in each instance of each song that has a collaboration on the album.”
Releasing the video for “Unbelievable,” his collab with Hanson, the animated piece is a flashback to everything good about Young’s childhood. “It was so fun to work with those guys. You know we’re all definitely 90s kids, we’re all born in the 80s, but grew up in the 90s, so that was definitely our era. So it was a blast just to connect with these other three guys that grew up with the same stuff that I did,” he shares.
With references of Mentos and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, working with them was iconic for the singer. “It was fun just to go take a walk down memory lane a little bit with Hanson, and of course such legendary musicians in their own right. I remember being in fourth or fifth grade when their first single came out, and loved it to death, and so definitely surreal for me to work with those guys. It was awesome.”
Aside from his many duets on Mobile Orchestra, fans will also notice a more obvious expression of the singer’s faith than in his previous releases. “Definitely, over the years, in some of my previous albums, I’ve kind of alluded to the fact that I am a person of faith. But I guess I never really kind of came out and described, in as honest a way that I could, how the fact that it is the number one, most important thing to me in my relationship with God, and he’s my number one in my life.” Including lyrics like “Hallelujah, my almighty God divine,” the singer tries to stay honest rather than relegate himself to a single secular or Christian market. “I felt like, looking back over the past five or six years, there’s kind of time to do that. Not for anybody else, but really for me and for my walk, spiritually. So yeah, it just felt like the right, honest, vulnerable thing to do.”
“It’s so cool to talk to people out there who connect with that, people who share that same faith. It’s so cool for me to meet those people out and about, it makes things like that so fulfilling, just to write music and just to be honest,” shares Young.
Still living in the Midwest, Young maintains a fairly normal life considering he has sold over 2.5 million albums. “I still live in a small town, I still live in the area that I grew up in. In a lot of ways life is not very different now than it was before I started to do music and gained some sort of success.”
“It’s always a little bit weird when I come out with a new album and suddenly there are all these opportunities to do interviews and to do press, and to play music live, and to do all these things…I didn’t move to LA or New York, I didn’t do that whole kind of route. So everything is still pretty normal for me, but strange. But it’s very cool, it’s strange in the best way that I can describe I guess, so I’m very happy.”
So after all his work on Mobile Orchestra, what does Young want his listeners to take away from it? “It’s always easy to forget that there’s probably scenarios and situations in everybody’s life that are sad and that are scary, that nobody else knows about.”
“My hope is that a song of mine, maybe can go out there and connect with somebody who’s dealing with some dark event or something like that, and help then through that, be their go to song to help them deal with that. If that’s the case for one person out there, I feel so lucky. That’s my hope.”
With the release of a new album comes Young’s upcoming On The Verge Tour, which will take him across the USA and to Australia in October, before hopefully heading to the UK and Europe in early 2016. “Beyond that there isn’t a whole lot of things on the books, which is really nice. Kind of hang around and enjoy my summer, kind of be home a little bit more than usual. So yeah, just a day at a time and just loving life really.”
Rounding up my time with Young, I decided it was imperative I ask him a vitally important question. Knowing how passionate he was about pizza through his social media, I asked him what his favorite topping was. Excitedly responding, “Pizza! Oh yeah, I love pizza!” he directed me to his number 1 pick.
“There’s a little local pizza place in my hometown, very small, it’s called Buck’s Pizza, and they have this Chicken Alfredo Pizza, which I know sounds strange, but it’s so good. It’s like this … Whenever I want the best pizza that I can think of, personally, that’s where I always go, and that’s the topping I always get. Chicken Alfredo, and it’s mind blowing.”
You’ve heard it here first folks; Chicken Alfredo pizza from Buck’s is cooler than a llama on the loose. And it’s perfectly paired with a night in listening party to Mobile Orchestra by Owl City.