In November 2009, Owl City's Adam Young, a native and longtime resident of Owatonna, Minnesota (pop. 25,000), who had made his very first airplane journey only a year prior at age 22, found himself standing on the Great Wall of China. "I called my mom on my cell phone at 2 a.m. Minnesota time and said, 'You'll never believe where I am right now!'" Young recalls with a laugh. "I'm this shy kid from nowhere. My family didn't have a lot of money to take vacations, so for me to have that kind of experience was surreal."
It was just one of many extraordinary moments this unassuming 24-year-old Midwesterner would have over the past 18 months thanks to the blockbuster success of Owl City's major-label debut album -- the lush, lovingly created Ocean Eyes, which was released by Universal Republic Records in July 2009. Filled with whimsical melodies and blissful beats that Young conjured up alone in the basement of his parents' home in Owatonna, Ocean Eyes topped the Billboard Rock, Alternative, and Dance/Electronic charts and was certified gold or platinum in nine countries, including platinum in the U.S. The album spawned the quadruple-platinum first single "Fireflies," which was a No. 1 smash hit in 24 countries including the U.S. (where it hit the top spot twice), and sold more than four million downloads. Its eye-popping success has made Owl City an international phenomenon, selling nearly 12 million tracks worldwide and amassing an impressive touring record, including support stints with Maroon 5 and John Mayer, and sold-out headlining tours in which Young, backed by a five-piece band, performed for besotted fans in the U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.