You may know Adam Young by his whimsical pop moniker Owl City. But Young also has his hand in a dozen lesser known side projects and bands including Port Blue, Sky Sailing, and Swimming With Dolphins. Recently he delved into another project based on a passion he’s had since he was a kid: composing movie scores.
Starting this year, Young is planning to release an “imaginary” film score a month based on stories or historical events that mean something to him. So far he’s released four scores, Apollo 11, RMS Titanic, The Spirit of St. Louis, and The Ascent of Everest. Here’s Young explaining his inspiration for the project:
Not long ago, I found myself reminiscing the last half decade of my career. I recalled what it was like writing my first songs, recording my first album and touring in a 15-passenger van. Then I went back further and remembered being 16-years-old and what it felt like discovering something that would ultimately allow my dreams to become reality. It was then that I stumbled upon a world of music that did something to me no other type of music had ever done before — it inspired me.
The revelation of a person’s first love of music is different for everyone, but for me, it was film scores — original music written to accompany motion pictures. These types of atmospheres and anthems spoke my language and I remember experiencing a feeling of wide-eyed wonder while listening to my favorite composers. The talent and prowess of John Williams, Harry Gregson-Williams, James Horner, Thomas Newman and Alan Silvestri exposed me to a creative canon I’d never experienced before. I felt as though I’d stumbled into a universe that was made just for me. It spoke to my heart, moved me deeply, and gave me the confidence to drop everything and say, “That. I want to do that.”
And so, as a 16-year-old with little knowledge of composition or audio production, I followed my inspiration blindly and simply began to paint with music. I didn’t have a long-term goal, I just knew I’d unearthed a creative drive that would not rest until I gave it my all. So that’s exactly what I did. The years have flown by, and here I am today — the same 16-year-old at heart, filled with more motivation and creativity than ever. Along the road, I’ve experienced my share of highs and lows and I’ve learned the mainstream pop music industry can be a frustrating place for everyone. It has a way of coaching one to adopt a creative process that may or may not come naturally, depending on the individual. As I found myself looking back on my own story, I realized the ups and downs of the mainstream music space have, at times, given rise to a degree of personal frustration and stress that affects everyone in the industry. By pausing to muse on the way things are in such a place, I find myself greatly inspired to use such trials and tribulations as the means to ignore any such “rules” the industry embodies. I consider myself fortunate enough to see the big picture from several angles, and after stopping to study over it, I suddenly feel a deep indwelling desire to make music for the sake of creating nothing but pure, bold, trailblazing art. No speed limits, no safety nets, no rules.
And so, as I listen to the works of the composers I first fell in love with, I feel a great longing to create my own version of that same wonder and euphoria that moved me as a young impressionable musician. I want to create worlds of sound that tell stories and tales in ways that cannot be described with words. I want to explore a vast, wild universe of storytelling and create in others the same fascination and curiosity I felt.
Stories are infinite. They offer us the ability to retell them according to the way we imagine them. Thus, I want to create musical narratives that aid in the telling of stories that move Adam Young, according to his imagination. And I want to share them with you.
You can find out more about this cool project at www.ayoungscores.com.
Chris is an Associate Professor of English at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts, and is also the author of several books of poetry. In 2018 he helped co-found The Poetry Pub, an online community for poets. He enjoys walking in the woods, visiting coffee shops, and poking through used bookstores with his wife Jen.