Whole Notes

Whole Notes

A video interview with Hillsong United

posted by Chad Bonham

Hillsong United recently sat down with Whole Notes to discuss the band’s worldwide appeal, what they’re seeing in the international Christian church and its latest recording Aftermath. We’ll post a full transcript of the interview next week, but in the meantime, here’s a video portion of that conversation featuring band members Joel Houston, Jad Gillies and J.D.


Check out the full transcript of this interview by clicking the links below:

Hillsong United interview (Part One)

Hillsong United interview (Part Two)

A conversation with Owl City’s Adam Young (Part 2)

posted by Chad Bonham

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A conversation with Owl City’s Adam Young, Part 2

In part one of the Whole Notes interview with Adam Young, we learned more about the platinum-selling artist’s faith. Today, he talks about the new music, some of his unique influences and how he deals with the critics:

Bonham: Was there a theme for the new record or maybe a mindset that you took into the recording of these songs?

Young: Ultimately, I just kind of sat down before I wrote anything and said, “God, give me the songs you want me to write so I can record them and sing them back to You.” Beyond that, esthetically and tonally and what not, as far as nuance, I knew I wanted a bigger, more polished, airbrushed record—something a little bit older and wiser. I always forget how much work it takes one guy in a basement to make a record, but it really is something I’m so blessed to be doing. It’s the one thing in my life I’ve been remotely good at (laughs). It’s finally what I’ve been called to do and I just wanted to make sure it was genuine, heartfelt and very organic in the sense that I wasn’t writing this new record with any unhealthy regard to the last record which was way more successful than any of us expected. So I wanted to make sure I wasn’t writing this one for iTunes or for Billboard or for any of the charts. Beyond that, I let all other restrictions fall away.

Bonham: You have a diverse list of musical inspirations including an unheralded musician like Johnathon Ford (Roadside Monument, Unwed Sailor). How have those influences played a part in shaping Owl City’s unique sound?

Young: Yeah, Johnathon Ford. That’s a great connection actually. I’ve kind of followed everything he’s done since he started through the whole Tooth & Nail days. I was big into Unwed Sailor and followed him when he played in Pedro the Lion. Ironically, we’re out on tour with them. I’m getting to know this guy that I’ve looked up to for years. He’s a great guy and it’s such a cool blessing. He’s played a huge part in my inspiration as far as what it takes to create imagery and spark the imagination without the use of words. I think he’s really good at that. I’m also inspired by film composers and how you can put in the soundtrack of a movie and listen to it and really feel those same innate threads of emotion without seeing the visuals. Something about film scores are so inspiring. I’m a big fan of wordless music far more than I am of music with lyrics.

Bonham: It seems like this album was influenced by more genres as well. Was that an intentional part of the recording process?

Young: Yeah, yeah. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t tread to closely to the last record. But I also wanted to make sure I didn’t go too far off the deep end and have everyone say, “What happened to this guy?” I guess even more than that, I tried not to let that directly influence the new record. I just wanted to pull in a few more influences, just for fun more than anything. I feel like artists shouldn’t repeat themselves too much and look back. So yeah, pulling in different influences and different guest influences was what it needed.

Bonham: What was the inspiration behind “July 28, 1986,” a track that includes Ronald Reagan’s famous speech he gave after the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy?

Adam Young of Owl City

Young: That terrible disaster happened about six months before I was born. I remember growing and my mom told me, “I was pregnant when I watched the Challenger go up on TV.” That was always kind of in my head growing up. I didn’t pay much attention to it until a few years ago when I was drawn to that event and what a tragedy that really was. I think it gets a little lost in the time continuum between the past and the present. I don’t feel like it gets as much honor as it really should. That track on the record was kind of my way of honoring it and by really soaking up what that event really meant in history, that led me to write the following track on the record, “Galaxies.” That song was me envisioning what I would be feeling if I were the flight commander of that ship and what I would say for myself if I were taken from reality into eternity in a split second. Looking back on my life, how I would answer for it. It’s kind of a sobering, compelling thought, but that’s really what triggered it.

Bonham: How do you deal with criticism from people who might diminish your music due to the way you came into the business or people who challenge your music’s artistic value?

Young: It’s kind of funny, but I guess I try to stay away from reviews and the buzz, if there is any. I’m a pretty sensitive guy and it’s easy to take things personally even when there’s not much to warrant that. So I guess it all falls back into the whole thing I was talking about before which is that I’m making sure I’m writing this stuff from the right place and then if that’s the case and whatever I put out is really influenced by things that are very important to me and I feel that God is honored by whatever I’m working on, then my job is done. If someone comes to me and says, “I really respect what you do and I’m really inspired by what you do,” that’s the most priceless feeling and it’s way more beautiful than royalties and record label deals and iTunes charts and all that stuff. All of that could go away and I’d still be as happy as ever. If there’s somebody who’s touched by a song, I just hit my knees and thank the Lord. At the end of the day, I’m so blessed to do what I do.

Check out some previous Whole Notes interviews with the likes of Switchfoot, Blindside and Royal Tailor by clicking on the links below:

Blindside’s Simon Grenehed, Part 1

Blindside’s Simon Grenehed, Part 2

Switchfoot’s Jerome Fontamillas

Royal Tailor’s Tauren Wells, Part 1

Royal Tailor’s Tauren Wells, Part 2

And coming soon, be checking back for interviews with Peter Furler, Hillsong United, Anthem Lights and Burlap To Cashmere.

A conversation with Owl City’s Adam Young (Part 1)

posted by Chad Bonham

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A conversation with Owl City’s Adam Young, Part 1

If you want to be a successful recording artist in the post-millennial era, look no further than the seemingly overnight rise to fame of Adam Young for inspiration. While working at Coca-Cola and taking college courses (all the while living with his parents in Owatonna, Minn.), Young experimented with music in the basement and created what the world now knows as Owl City, a platinum-selling act with the massive hit single “Fireflies” as proof of his melody making genius.

Owl City recently released its Universal Republic followup All Things Bright And Beautiful and is currently touring to support the new songs. In this first part of a two-part interview, Young took some time out of his busy schedule to have a conversation with Whole Notes where we talked about his quick rise to fame, his self-described “anti-social ways” and how his Christian faith influences his music:

Bonham: Did you ever envision you’d be experiencing this level of success so quickly?

Adam Young of Owl City

Young: Where I am right now is so far out from anything I ever imagined. It’s so far out of my imagination’s reach. The Coca-Cola thing was who I was and what I did two and a half years ago. (Laughs) That was my entire world for what it was worth. Needless to say, never did I think that things would happen and people would start to connect with what I was doing in such a great way. I’m just trying to hang on for dear life and really take in everything in the crazy whirlwind because it’s such a huge blessing and one that I never envisioned myself being a part of in any way.

Bonham: Is it true that you weren’t a very outgoing person before all of this happened? And if so, has all of the attention and the opportunity to impact the masses changed that?

Young: That’s absolutely correct and it’s still the same way today. I’m still very introverted, very shy. Ironically, big groups of people are not my favorite thing in the world (laughs), but there’s something about playing shows and there’s this kind of crazy, bizarre moment before we walk out on stage where all the butterflies kind of go away. It’s just me, and the rest of the band, and the music in the room. It just feels like it’s supposed to be that way. Despite my anti-social ways, it really is a perfect match, this whole music thing that I’ve been called to do.

Bonham: Would you agree that you’ve become somewhat of a poster boy for the new way of doing things in the music business?

Young: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s pretty accurate. I think ultimately my story really just is all credit to the Internet and definitely social networking. I was kind of in the right place at the right time, especially when Myspace was really booming and it was a popular place online. But beyond that, I guess this new way of climbing my way to the top was never something I envisioned let alone really wanted. It just kind of happened. I feel like I didn’t really work at it in terms of getting actual music to the consumers. They kind of found me and then I found myself quitting my job at Coca-Cola and it all just fell into place.

Bonham: As an outspoken Christian, do you feel blessed to have such a large platform in the general market?

Adam Young of Owl City

Young: Yeah, I do. I do feel that. The mere fact is that my faith is fuel on the fire in terms of my inspiration, in terms of my writing and songwriting and kind of why I get out of bed every morning. If I was to hide that fact, I think it would be a crime, although it’s never been, on the other side of the coin, my ultimate goal to go out and preach to people. As a Christian human being, I hope that I am really, really transparent and really in the right place with my Creator, with my Savior. Beyond that, my prayer is that He would use whatever kind of results from me as an artist creating art and take that art to whatever capacity that He might choose. Beyond that, I don’t think it’s any of my business to classify what I do as Christian music or get into that whole argument. That’s missing the point.

Bonham: But interestingly, you’re now getting a lot of love from the Christian industry and finding your music being played on Christian radio and being invited to play Christian festivals. How have you navigated that process?

Young: Ultimately, I just kind of try to stay out of it (laughs) in that respect. I try not to let myself get involved with publicly saying, “This is what this music has to be and this is where it has to go!” I just want to make sure that the music is truly genuine and truly from the heart. Wherever it connects, wherever God chooses to use that, it’s like, all praise to Him. I just try to stay out of the way.

Bonham: Tell me about your faith story. Were you raised in a Christian home? Did you have a spiritual epiphany or defining moment that brought you to this point?

Young: My story isn’t too epic. It’s pretty low-key. There was no epiphany. I was raised in a Christian home with two wonderful parents who have been married for 35 years now. Whenever the doors were open at church, we were there, but it didn’t really sink in. It’s the same way it is with a lot of Christians. I kind of went through the motions early on and through high school. I guess after high school, I remember thinking, “What now?” And maybe that was the thing that drove me to a deeper, more meaningful relationship with the Lord. No car wreck. No crazy thing that I can point to on a certain date, but I just kind of felt God calling me. So many of my friends at the time had fallen away. It was pretty disheartening in that respect. I didn’t really know what I was doing or where I was going. I was working for Coke and I hated my job. I was going to school for nothing and I was really headed toward a dead end. So maybe that’s what really made me truly latch on to the Lord. And that’s what led to me writing music and I remember thinking, “I’ve got to be okay with the Lord if I’m going to do this.” It’s got to be what I’m called to do.

Click here for part two of this interview with Owl City’s Adam Young where he talks about the new record, dealing with critics and more.

WN Music News: July 4, 2011

posted by Chad Bonham

New Tooth & Nail signee Nine Lashes set to release first iTunes single

Already released to radio last week, new Tooth & Nail band Nine Lashes will release “Anthem of the Lonely” to iTunes next Tuesday (July 12th). The Birmingham-based rock act, however, won’t see its first full album release until sometime early 2012. Nine Lashes is working with co-producers Aaron Sprinkle and Thousand Foot Krutch lead singer Trevor McNevan.

“It is so crazy to know that we are signed to Tooth & Nail Records,” Nine Lashes front man Jeremy Dunn said in a press release. “Since I was a teenager, I’ve dreamed of playing music for a living. It is surreal to look back and see us come from nothing to this. God is truly impressive.”

You can follow Nine Lashes via Facebook by clicking here.

Upcoming album releases (July 5):
Jeff Anderson – A Thousand Tongues EP (United Republic)
Call To Preserve – Validation EP (Facedown Records/Provident)
Hands – Give Me Rest (Facedown Records/Provident)
Dara Maclean – You Got My Attention (Word) – [iTunes only]
My Epic – Broken Voice EP (Facedown Records/Provident)

Join Whole Notes tomorrow for a conversation with Adam Young of Owl City.

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