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Hailing from Chicago, Carey Ott got his start in the mid-'90s with a band called Torben Floor. Backed by his brother Chris Ott on bass, Doug Sale on drums, and John Mooney on guitar, Ott gained a following on the Chicago club circuit for his pensive, confessional songs. Due in no small part to Ott's contributions (he wrote all of the band's songs), Torben Floor managed to snag gigs at popular festivals like SXSW and at clubs like Schubas, Doubledoor, and Metro. The band managed to release one album, Live Music in the Apartment, in 1999, but was unable to land a major record deal. It was during this time that Ott met and eventually teamed up to cut a demo with producer Ed Tinley. Frustrated with their inability to land a major record deal, Torben Floor split up shortly after their debut was released.
The breakup turned out to be a big break for Ott. His manager passed Ott's demo (the one he cut with Tinley) along to Nashville-based producer Ray Kennedy, who liked what he heard and in turn handed the demo over to Dualtone Records. A couple representatives from the label flew out to Chicago, caught one of Ott's solo gigs at the Subterranean, and consequently offered him a record deal. Ott, not missing a beat, moved to Nashville, met up with Tinley, and got to work on the songs for his first Dualtone release, Lucid Dream, which came out in the summer of 2006. It was around this time that Ott's song "Am I Just One" was featured on an episode of the ABC television series Grey's Anatomy, providing Ott with a boost that launched him from the indie circuit into the mainstream.