As Owl City, Adam Young weaves comforting, billowy nests of dream-pop tunes. Last year the solo artist’s breakout single, "Fireflies," almost made him a star … almost, because the Minnesotan’s quiet demeanor keeps him a relatively anonymous personality despite the success.
But he’s taken to all of the attention well, and treats his many fans in a friendly manner, so much so that he divulged a serious health matter earlier this month on his blog.
Young returns to Hawaii this weekend to play his second concert in as many years, thankful that he’s sans the kidney stones that first bothered him at the beginning of the year.
"Bothered" is an understatement. "It was AWFUL!" Young said via e-mail, responding to interview questions from a stop along the tour. "Easily the worst pain of my life. They say calcium and dehydration are contributing factors, and the cold irony is that some people are just more prone to getting them than others. I am one of those people. Great. I drink a lot of lemonade; they say that helps prevent them."
Where: Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.
When: 8 p.m. tomorrow
Cost: $26, all ages
Info: 589-1999 or www.pipelinecafehawaii.com
Another thing evident in Young’s blogs is his observant appreciation of where he is at any given time, whether back home in the Midwest or any place while on the road.
"I adore everything about Hawaii," he said, "but perhaps my favorite memory from my last trip was arriving in Honolulu with no swimming trunks. Having just come from Japan, there I was for the first time in Hawaii, and all I had with me were jeans and sweatshirts … are you kidding me?! The first thing I did was run to the beach and jump in, jeans and all.
"Hawaii is paradise. It’s so perfect, I almost don’t wanna be tempted to move there, because I fear that if I did, I’d get accustomed to the splendor and take it for granted. Hawaii is way too beautiful to take for granted."
OWL City’s sophomore album, the platinum-selling "Ocean Eyes," contained other favorites besides "Fireflies," including "Hello Seattle" and "Vanilla Twilight." As an unsigned artist, he also released a 2007 debut EP, "Of June," and 2008’s "Maybe I’m Dreaming."
To keep his fans happy, a special edition of "Ocean Eyes" was released earlier this year that included leftovers from that album’s recording sessions.
"The six songs were just random ideas and B-sides that I’d had in the can for a while," he said. "I didn’t have much use for them, so they were perfect candidates to include on the deluxe edition.
"I spent June and July in the studio working on the new record, and I’m about half done writing it. There’s still a lot to be done, but I’m really excited about it," he said. "Lots of collaborations and new twists and turns on the horizon," two of which might include his friend Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional and a certain pop megastar by the name of Taylor Swift. "Both my fingers AND toes are crossed," he said.
Another stopgap before his next album comes out was the re-release of "An Airplane Carried Me to Bed," originally recorded under Young’s previous moniker, Sky Sailing.
"It was a wonderful thing for me," Young said. "Three years ago, I wrote and recorded a full-length indie/folk record, and before I could put it out, Owl City happened. This summer, I finally had a second to catch my breath, so I dug out the old Sky Sailing songs from the can, had them mastered and (my label) Universal released it.
"It was really fun for me to go back and look at the way the writing process worked for me three years ago. I know a lot more now about producing and engineering than I did then, so it was ultimately an encouragement, because the growth as a writer was pretty obvious. It’s easy to forget how much your writing style changes until you go back and listen to old recordings you’ve made. It can be a pretty painful thing at times, but if looked at correctly, can also be really healthy."
His music has expanded in presentation onstage as well, as he tours with a full backup band. "They’re a great bunch of folks. I’ve got a vibes player, a drummer, a string section and a lovely piano player. We’re such a family, I honestly wouldn’t even think about touring without them," he said. "I love those people to death."