NEW YORK (Billboard) - In the summer of 2007, before Adam Young began making music as Owl City, the mastermind behind the synth-pop act recorded a handful of unadorned acoustic songs.
"The feel was different (from) Owl City," says Steve Bursky, who manages Young. "It was the same voice and aesthetic, but the songs were very stripped-down and more vulnerable."
When Young first played the recorded tracks from his hard drive for Bursky, at the end of 2008, he told him that he hoped they would someday be released. And he insisted they be released under a different name, Sky Sailing.
"It was clear early on that it needed to be separate from Owl City," Young says. "Overall, this piece is disconnected enough to be its own thing."
The album, "An Airplane Carried Me to Bed," will be released July 13 on Universal Republic.
Many might question the wisdom of not using the Owl City name, which carries the cachet of a No. 1 single ("Fireflies") and a top 20 album ("Ocean Eyes"), but Bursky says the new moniker will make things clearer for fans. He notes that the separate Sky Sailing name allows a prolific artist like Young to experiment with multiple genres without misleading his Owl City fans. In addition to "Airplane," Young is working on an album of trance music that may come out later this year.
"If one artist puts out five different CDs with five totally different sounds under one name, it would be utterly confusing to people," Bursky says. "We want to open people's eyes to Adam as an artist instead of Adam as Owl City."
Young began polishing the tracks from 2007 on his laptop between Owl City shows last spring.
"It's ironic, because these songs took a back seat to Owl City, but then a little lull in (recording as) Owl City gave me the opportunity to come back to them," Young says.
The singer-songwriter describes the sound of "Airplane," including the wistful "I Live Alone" and pop-leaning "Steady as She Goes," as "more organic and even a little darker in places."
A MySpace page for Sky Sailing was set up in May, and to ensure that Owl City fans are aware of the release of "Airplane," Young has posted a letter online explaining his involvement with the project.
Universal Republic plans to partner with iTunes for the release of "Airplane." The store will exclusively sell the album for its first two weeks of release before physical copies are available July 27.
"iTunes has been a very important partner to Owl City," says Universal Republic Records co-president Avery Lipman, who points out that "Fireflies" was chosen as iTunes' Single of the Week last July before becoming a hit. "The idea was to do a lot of direct-to-consumer marketing to reach Adam's dedicated online fans."
But other commitments will prevent Young himself from promoting "Airplane." He's recording a new Owl City album through the summer and early fall, and Owl City will support Maroon 5 on tour beginning August 4 and John Mayer beginning August 18. There aren't any plans for Young to tour as Sky Sailing, but he might perform some of the material on the upcoming tours.
(Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters)