Fireflies ~ Owl City

Owl City is an American electronica musical project by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Young formed in 2007 in Owatonna, Minnesota. Young created the project while experimenting with music in his parents’ basement. Like many musicians who achieved success in the late 2000s, Owl City developed a following on the social networking site Myspace before signing with Universal Republic in 2008.

Suffering from insomnia while working loading Coca-Cola trucks in his hometown, Owatonna, Minnesota, Young turned to composing music.  He began uploading songs recorded in his parents’ basement to Myspace.   He started to receive favorable attention for his music and then helped cultivate this nascent fanbase by being an open and accessible web presence, responding to any messages he received and constantly posting blogs.   His manager Steve Burksy later highlighted the significance of Young’s engaging online manner in building his following saying: “People feel like they know him, like they’ve got a direct connection to him because of how he approaches his connection with them online.”  Through a deal with the digital aggregator CD Baby, he then started making the songs available for sale through iTunes.  In 2007, Owl City released an EP titled Of June, followed by the 2008 release of the album Maybe I’m Dreaming. Of June reached No. 15 on the Billboard Electronic Albums chart, and Maybe I’m Dreaming peaked on the same chart at No. 13.

The viral phenomenon that was building through Myspace caught the attention of Universal Republic presidents Avery and Monte Lipman who approached Young with a view to signing the artist.  Republic recommended Young partner up with 27-year-old manager Steve Bursky of Foundations Artist Management and the two began working together in late 2008. When later asked by HitQuarters why the label chose him for a major label act given his relative inexperience, Burksy said:

“I think they saw Owl City as representing the future of our business. This idea of a kid in a tiny town in rural U.S. being able to make songs in his basement that sound like Top 40 radio could never have happened ten years ago. By hiring a young management company who understands the business circa 2011 over a seasoned industry vet, who might not understand the online spaces well, showed a lot of understanding of where this kid was going to end up having success.”

Owl City’s label deal with Universal Republic was finally confirmed in February 2009  According to Bursky there was initially some disagreement about the direction Owl City should follow, telling HitQuarters: “They were ready to send him into the studio with big producers and polish him up to try to become this thing that he wasn’t. But we put our foot down and said, ‘Look, the reason you signed this kid is because it’s working. Whatever it is about him – his music, his interaction with his fans, his brilliance in the online space – these things are connecting with people, and as soon as you change that you lose what’s special about this artist.’ To their credit, they really listened and they got it.”

Fireflies

Fireflies” is a song and the debut single from synthpop artist Owl City’s album Ocean Eyes. Relient K vocalist Matt Thiessen is featured as a guest vocalist in the song. Adam Young described the song as “a little song about bugs and not being able to fall asleep at night.”

The song is based around a “bleepy” 80s-influenced synthline and features wondrous, child-like lyrics about insomnia, fireflies and summer.

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/owl-city-fireflies.mp4[/flv]

You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep
Cause they’d fill the open air
And leave tear drops everywhere
You’d think me rude but I would just stand and
Stare

I’d like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns, slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
Cause everything is never as it seems

Cause I’d get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightning bugs
As they tried to teach me how to dance
A foxtrot above my head
A sock-hop beneath my bed
The disco ball is just hanging by a thread
(Thread, thread…)

I’d like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns, slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
Cause everything is never as it seems
(When I fall asleep)

Leave my door open just a crack
(Please take me away from here)
Cause I feel like such an insomniac
(Please take me away from here)
Why do I tire of counting sheep?
(Please take me away from here)
When I’m far too tired to fall asleep
(Ha-ha)

To ten million fireflies
I’m weird cause I hate goodbyes
I got misty eyes as they said farewell
(Said farewell)
But I’ll know where several are
If my dreams get real bizarre
Cause I saved a few and I keep them in a jar
(Jar, jar, jar…)

I’d like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns, slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
Cause everything is never as it seems
(When I fall asleep)

I’d like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns, slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
Cause everything is never as it seems
(When I fall asleep)

I’d like to make myself believe
That planet Earth turns, slowly
It’s hard to say that I’d rather stay awake when I’m asleep
Because my dreams are bursting at the seams

  • Audio from the 2009 album, Ocean Eyes:
Click to Purchase

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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