Interview: Owl City on collaborations, EDM and his new record

August 9, 2012
  • Share

Knowing what a huge Blink-182 fan you are, it must have been a thrill to collaborate with Mark Hoppus on “Dementia.”
Oh, man. I still can’t believe Mark is on my song. Usually, if one of my songs comes on shuffle in the car, I switch it right away. But I can’t turn that song off! My manager had asked if there were any songs on the record that could benefit from a feature. I remember thinking, “Yeah, I have this Blink-182-inspired rock or pop-punk song. Verse two could be great for an outside voice.” I only had one name on my wish list, and that was Mark. I didn’t know if he’d heard of me or would want to do the song, but he flew from London to New York to sing it in the studio. It was wild: There was Mark Hoppus, the one guy in my life I still look up to as much as anyone I ever have. I’ve never laughed that hard in a session before; he’s super funny.

Likewise, Carly Rae Jepsen is another hot name right now. The song you did with her, “Good Time,” sounds like a surefire hit. How did that collaboration happen?
It was another happy accident. Again, I had no idea if she even knew who I was. I met her over email first, and she said to me, “I’ve been to two of your shows in Vancouver and I’m a big fan.” She’s like the sweetest person ever. This was back in January, and obviously she’s huge right now. She’s doing great things. The timing worked out great.

You’ve never hidden your love of EDM, and songs like “Coming After You” and “Speed Of Love” are really influenced by dance and club music. Was that a conscious decision or did the influence subconsciously make its way onto these songs?
I’ve always wanted to do a record like this. Always. I’ve always wanted to collaborate with some of the great trance DJs from Europe, especially Holland, and I’ve had the chance to do a little of that on the side. That stuff to me is so much fun, to create this sweeping, organic dance anthem. That’s always been so exciting to me from a production standpoint. Given where radio is these days and club music being so relevant right now, it was the perfect time to do this.

A couple months ago, you posted a cover of “Garden Party” on your blog. That song details Rick Nelson’s experience with a fanbase who wasn’t so open to a change in style and sound. When you covered that song, were you in some ways warning your fans that a musical shift was coming on The Midsummer Station?
I was certainly cognizant of it. Here’s how I can explain it: I was such a huge fan of Underoath. When they released that record They’re Only Chasing Safety, I remember thinking I wasn’t sure if I liked it. It was such a big leap. I wasn’t on the same page, but looking back at it, I realize I was looking at it and judging it selfishly. Given the age group of my fans, I wanted to put out a little bit of a hint that a change was going to happen. But I’m still the same guy; I wrote on my blog that it’s still the same canvas, just different colors. That song was my way of saying, I can’t keep everybody happy every second but this is something I truly believe in. I’m thrilled about this new music and what I’ve created. It’s not my record label telling me to do this or that. It’s what I really want to do. What Rick Nelson went through at that show, you can’t think too much about how everyone else is going to respond to your art. You just have to be you. ALT

Written by AltPress