Q&A: Owl City's Adam Young on Gibbard, Elves, and the 206

"Portland has nothing on you guys."

Owl City, the handle under which Adam Young produces his soft-spoken laptop-pop melodies, doesn't trigger comparisons only to Ben Gibbard. With last year's release of Young's debut, Ocean Eyes, he's moving crates full of records (just like The Postal Service), selling out rooms (just like Death Cab), and (like Gibbard) name-dropping some of his favorite spots in the Pacific Northwest.

In Young's case, that would be via the song "Hello, Seattle." In a recent e-mail, he filled us in on the 206 connection, dodged all Gibbard comparisons, and explained why he didn't write a love song to Portland. (For more from the e-mail, check out our music blog, Reverb.)

SW: Howdy, Adam. What are you up to today?

Young: Well, right now my laptop and I are sitting on a lawn chair with a hole in the seat somewhere in the leafy hills of Idaho. Ironically, I'm in the woods in the middle of nowhere and I don't see any potatoes in sight. But thankfully I'm picking up a fairly strong Internet signal from a lonely, unsecured wireless network called "Touch my Afro and I'll kill you."

Since I'm writing from Seattle, we should talk about "Hello Seattle." How many other cities did you go through before settling on Seattle? "Hello Chicago" has a nice ring to it, too.

It does indeed. However, as a shy little high-school monster growing up in the millpond Midwest, the Emerald City was much farther away than Chicago, and thus much more fascinating to me. Mmm...Seattle—just the sound of it makes my eyes water...in a good way. Seattle was (and still is) the farthest and most enchanting place northwest of my little hometown in Minnesota [Owatonna], and therein lies my reasoning.


Cross my heart.

It makes us feel good that you chose Seattle over Portland.

Portland has nothing on you guys.

Can you remember the first time someone said, "Hey, you sound a lot like Ben Gibbard!"?

Yeah, this one time my dad came home from work and was, like, "Hey, son, wanna go for a ride in my sweet truck?" I hesitated for a second, but it was just my dad, so I agreed. It was awesome. [Young evidently has the old public-relations mantra down pat: Don't answer the question you're asked, answer the question you want to answer.]

Gibbard married the hot elf from the movie Elf. Is there an elf in your future?

I would like to publicly confess that I'm not particularly attracted to girls with pointy ears who enjoy hanging out with creaky fat men in red suits. But in a word: Yes.

Thanks for taking the time, Adam. Any parting comments?

I bought a pair of swimming trunks at Wal-Mart yesterday. They have palm trees on them.


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