a few especially intimate shows in Ontario and Québec coming up next week, opening for a musician named Andrew Sisk.

in Toronto (Wednesday, May 27th), i’ll be playing alone at the Southern Cross Lounge (part of the Tranzac Club), in the early evening. show starts at 7:30 pm.

in Montréal (Friday, May 29th, Le Cagibi), Kingston (Saturday, May 30th, Café Musiikki) and Ottawa (Sunday, May 31st, Raw Sugar), it will be a trio. no drums or keyboards. but maybe a loop or two.

details for all shows can be found in the usual place: http://raisedbyswans.com/?page_id=43.

a less sparse update once i’m feeling less sparse. promise.

hope to see you next week.



Öxnadalur- front cover

six (-ish) things:

1.  after struggling for a couple of months to figure out how to move even a small step closer to whatever the “music industry” is, through working alongside Lueda Alia, (and her struggling in turn to figure out how to drag me gently towards it), and then having a coffin-sized section of my apartment ceiling cave in on me as a rather apt metaphor for how the whole process was feeling, i’ve decided to continue on alone once again.  

all the glowing things i wrote a few updates ago still stand.  L is as talented as ever, it’s me who’s a daft old hermit waving a .22 at passing planes from my imagined little island.  there’s too much i just don’t feel comfortable with, too much that i feel i need to protect.   i sound like an absolute ass, i’m sure. that’s fine.  the truth is that i’ve kind of painted myself into a corner after all this time, and for now at least, i suppose i’m better off on my own. even if i’m not.

only letting you know this to explain why nothing will be changing as dramatically as i’d hinted it might.  why the raised by swans twitter account will remain empty.  why the soundcloud account will begin to go stale from disuse only a couple of months past its not-so-grand opening. why i will continue posting online updates in the same slow, sporadic way i always have, in only two places.  and on and on.

2. finally got around to redesigning this website about a week ago. it’s not done, and some things are not quite right, but that’s because i’m stuck on some things that i don’t understand.  slowly working on adding content too.  it was an elevator in a sad hotel before.  i wanted to make it feel more like home.

3.  in spite of being a snail wearing too many shells, i love being connected with all of you, and it means a lot to me to be able to write these little updates and to hear from you in return.  so facebook, as doomed as some say it is in the greater scheme of things, and as much as i dreaded becoming a part of it at the start, has become a much more intimate and vital experience than i ever thought it could be. exclusively because of all of you.

but facebook and this website are more than enough for me.   if i gave into monitoring and maintaining all the other online things one seems to be expected to maintain these days as an artist – twitter, tumblr, soundcloud, instagram, etc., i’d be pulled under in no time. i’ve no clue how everyone does it. for a terribly private man with no cell phone or personal social media sites to his name, who dreams of living in a small cave by the sea, i already feel stretched too thin. it makes sense to me, for everyone’s sake, that i devote my time and energy to writing and sharing my songs, and perhaps the occasional personal update when i’m feeling brave enough to post one.

this is what many have said is exactly what’s hurting my chances at getting the word out about my music.  and subsequently, selling my albums.  and booking shows.  and on and on. which it almost certainly is.

so what am i saying here.  i am saying, “oh well”. i’ve come this far, and i don’t know how to be anything else. i am saying thank you for helping me pick up my own slack, in terms of the sites and accounts some of you have started up yourselves to support my music.  someone told me recently about a twitter account that’s floating about out there, for instance, posting things on raised by swans’ behalf. if only you knew how that warms my heart.  as did your many suggestions for venues to look into, all around the world, that you were so kind to share with me after i posted my last update.

i’m saying that even though i talk about being alone in all of this, i’m really not, because of all of you. and i don’t take that for granted, not for a fucking second.

5. i hope you’re all okay.

6.  if your ceiling starts dripping in multiple places, know that the outdoors wants very badly to come indoors.  and once you’re asleep, it will.

with love,


part of the reason i am awake now is you. i heard your words and felt your hands in mine even as the past couple of months kept me sedated behind their black screens, knowing full well that many of you were reaching out from behind screens of your own. and now i’m out of the garbage and uncrumpled like the impossibly romantic (to me, at least) final moments of a-ha’s ‘take on me’ video. still the same heartbroken dork with scotch tape on my glasses (in two places, no less), but in my mind i’m feeling like Morton Harket, circa 1985. and possibly just as worth smoothing out and saving.

i have to give credit to something else too, something wondrous. a new song. it’s humming dangerously through me as i try to write this, threatening to kick the ceiling out and drag me up into the sky like a reverse shooting star. i wrote most of it in my head on a hike two days ago, practically running on an icy trail that meanders through the remains of an old RCAF base (now a wildlife sanctuary) south of here, its buildings long collapsed and replaced by trees. birds singing where pilots used to practice dropping bombs.

i was almost running because walking wasn’t cutting it. the faster i pushed into the woods the louder the song played in my head, the more the imagined instruments spread out like branches beneath the vocal melody, the more words bloomed suddenly in previously blank spaces. it’s my first one since finishing Öxnadalur, and it’s so beautiful to me that my chest is definitely going to explode at some point. i just can’t see how that won’t happen. i should probably arrange for some sort of protective vest.

i’ve decided that i want to try to make a 7″ vinyl recording of it. the song, not the vest. with ‘sightings’ on the other side, i think. a tiny record. and i want to do it soon. still haven’t even paid off my remaining debt for recording Öxnadalur, though, so maybe i’m being unrealistic. maybe i’ll sell my glasses.

oh wait, they’re broken.

if you haven’t purchased Öxnadalur yet (or any of my other albums/songs, for that matter), and can afford to, perhaps you could consider doing so. it would help, as it always does, more than you could ever know. everything i’ve recorded is available on bandcamp and iTunes. or just write to me if you can’t find what you’re looking for (especially if you can’t find a CD copy; i do still have copies of all the albums in my apartment, though admittedly very few of codes and secret longing at this point). there are many options.

i’m sorry that my last update (if it can even be called that) made some of you feel sad or concerned. that certainly was not my intention when i posted it. but if i can trust you with my songs (which i obviously do), i know i can trust you with pretty much anything. and, well…i was sad. and feeling lost. i guess i needed to share what i shared and knew it would be okay with all of you. we kind of hold each other up like that, in a wonderful way. i know you’re out there, supporting me from afar, and i’m right beside you whenever you press play. and what’s the point of faking anything, ever, anyway? i can only communicate as myself.

thank you to everyone for the recent emails and comments that i can barely get through without breaking down. you are so kind. i am so grateful. i can’t tell you what it means to me to know that Öxnadalur is being cared for and loved by all of you.

thank you to z for writing to tell me about vk.com, a whole online community of people listening to my music that i wasn’t even aware of. for caring enough about me to translate and send a small collection of some of the messages that are posted there. there is so much love and support for my music in corners of the internet i’d never seen. i had no idea.

and thank you to Martin for the ultra-glorious thing that is going to happen in November, and that i deliberately saved for the conclusion of this little update:

it is officially confirmed that i will be playing a show in Bamberg, Germany, on November 10th, in support of Öxnadalur. at Villa Concordia, with Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir, the Icelandic poet. raised by swans, in Germany! Sigurbjörg will be reading her poems, and i will be playing my songs. i’m so thrilled and honoured to have been invited. and of course, amazingly, this will finally get me across the North Atlantic, and suddenly so much closer to so many of you.

so: i am beginning the planning for some European shows later that month. if all goes well, and i can afford it, i will bring some musicians over to accompany me, but no matter what i will be there, and will be playing as often and wherever i can while i am.

over the next few months, there will be shows in Ontario and Québec as well. and maybe even the States, if i can possibly arrange something. i hope. i’m trying.

whether it’s Europe or Ontario or the States, i could really use your help with suggestions as to venues, if you can spare a moment. not just cities, but specific places to play. some of you have offered suggestions already, and thank you for those. everything helps.

it’s good to be awake again.

much love,


thank you for those two beautiful nights in December.

i should probably have posted something about them before this, but i’ve been in a coma in a hospital basement on some other planet.  besides the pride i felt upon its completion, and the burning love i have for its every note and word, finishing Öxnadalur was such an emotionally jarring and lonely experience (even more so than the past two albums) that outside of a gloriously cathartic couple of weeks alone in the wilds of Iceland in mid-November, and the magic of the two December shows, i’ve felt lost and locked away ever since i made it available on November 5th.  i can’t even really bring myself to call letting it go a ‘release’ anymore, except on a very personal level, because i did and have done absolutely nothing to promote it.  which at this point feels like a mistake, as much as i despise self-promotion of any sort.

and now 2015 is here, empty and uncertain and full of vague promise, but also pushing blindly forward towards new things, always new things, like brand new is the only thing that matters anymore.  and i can’t bear to see Öxnadalur disappear in that bored, inexorable current; it’s far too dear to me.  so i am committing the next little while to waking up and focusing.  and to holding on.  most urgently, more shows have to happen.  because as i’ve said countless times over the years, all i’ve ever wanted is to get to all of you, the people who have let my songs into your lives.  and because the nights i spend singing to you are easily among my life’s most precious experiences.  they might even be a large part of what’s keeping me alive in the first place.

December 18th and 19th reminded me of that in the sweetest possible way.  so thank you again for those, to everyone who was able to attend.

to those of you who weren’t, i hope to see you soon, somewhere, somehow.

much love,


less than a week now before two very special live shows. not only the first performances with a full band in over two years, but also the first since i released an album called Öxnadalur in such a ridiculously quiet manner that it’s still pretty much a secret.

the Toronto show is happening at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, on Thursday, December 18th. thrilled to be joined by special guests Language Arts, The Island Years (ex-members of Ohbijou and Wilderness of Manitoba), and Octoberman. come early (Octoberman starts at 9:00 pm) and your ears and heart will thank you for it.

advance tickets are still available here.

more details here.

advance tickets also still available for the London, Ontario show, happening at the beautiful Aeolian Hall, on Friday, December 19th, with special guests The Raspberry Heaven sharing the night.

this one’s an early show – doors are at 7:00 pm and The Raspberry Heaven starts at 8:00 pm.

advance tickets are still available here.

or at Grooves Record Store, at 353 Clarence Street in London. a place that you should be visiting regardless of whether you buy tickets for the show or not.

more details here.

see you soon, i hope.

with love,


so i made these. finally.

i wish i could bring every one of you to one (or both) of these shows.
if i knew enough seagulls and spiders i suppose i could.





i’m thrilled (and admittedly a bit nervous) to announce that after many years of managing every aspect of raised by swans, i will finally be accepting some outside help with the extended parts of all of this; parts that i’ve always found terribly uncomfortable and debilitating to deal with. namely, the promotional/social media/business side of things. i’m proud and excited that the wonderful Lueda Alia (madeofchalk.com, absolutepunk.net, alueda.net) will be working with me from now on.

all the (mostly failed) attempts at booking shows, at applying for writing and recording grants, at connecting with people that i’ve thought could help me with gently getting my music out there, and at trying to figure out how on earth i’m supposed to do the things that so many artists i admire are doing (like touring) have worn me down. i’m just not built for any of it. i’ll never stop writing and recording music, but after all these years i find even subtly publicity-related stuff so alien and nerve-wracking that i’m getting closer and closer to doing nothing at all in terms of promoting myself. the most recent proof of which is the fact that i put out Öxnadalur in early November and promptly escaped across the ocean.

the only thing that i care about when it comes to making music is writing, recording, and sharing it. and perhaps most of all, playing live shows. it breaks my heart that i might be missing out on possibilities, and potentially on ways to make all of this less of a struggle, just because i’m too shy (and/or curmudgeonly) to try something new.

i’m mainly posting this because i need you all to know that i am still very much here. when you write to me, or comment or send a message via Facebook, it will still be me who is reading your words (and writing back when i can). private messages will only be seen by me. and you are always welcome to write to me via my personal email address (raisedbyswans@gmail.com), if you’d like.

but Lueda will be handling things like a raised by swans Twitter account (i am as averse to Twitter as ever, personally, but am putting my trust in her that it will help reach more of you and keep you updated on what’s happening, at least more than my once-every-third-eon messages), and sometimes posting information and updates on Facebook and other sites as well, on my behalf. i will not be disappearing, just focusing most on what matters most to me, which is my music.

this all came about in the most natural way, which is why it feels right to me. Lueda is a brilliant, warm, and genuine person with an undeniable passion for music. i promised myself long ago that i’d only ever work alongside someone in this sense if they had the same philosophy as i do towards music and art. i have no doubt that i’m in good hands with her.

i hope to see your lovely faces in Toronto and/or London in a couple of weeks. tickets are still available for both shows.

Toronto: https://www.facebook.com/events/1488025558146679/
London: https://www.facebook.com/events/549663551831367/

much love,


stopped in Akureyri, North Iceland, gathering supplies. finally read all of your comments and emails about Öxnadalur in one big overwhelming burst and don’t know what to say. there are tears running down my face as i type this. you are all so lovely. all of you, all around the world. i can’t believe that you’re out there listening, and in so many places.

you’ve said such beautiful things. thank you.

a couple of practical things to distract my tear ducts for a moment: a few of you have asked about pronunciation of the album title. it’s not the fully Icelandic way, with all its wonderful subtleties and elegance, but if you say “OX-na-DA-lure”, with the emphasis on the capitalized syllables, you’ll be sort of close. (if you roll the ‘r’ you’ll be even closer).

also: lyrics. enough of you have asked for them (mostly through email) that i will post them here very soon. just can’t do it tonight, i must be on my way. please be patient.

i’m proud to have played a small solo show here in Akureyri last night, as i wanted so badly for my first show in support of Öxnadalur to happen here in Iceland. my voice definitely was not cooperating due to a long illness, but that’s the way it goes. especially, perhaps, when one has slept up in the mountains in a small storm two nights previous. thanks to Haukur, Four Leaves Left, and everyone who came out to see the show.

now i am going back into the valley with a heart filled with so much love from all of you that i barely know how to process it. thank you all, again.



my heart.

my new album, Öxnadalur, is now available. and i’m off to Iceland to disappear for a little while.

Öxnadalur is 100% a creation of my own, for better or worse. besides a few acoustic drum tracks added at the very end, i sang and played everything you hear. with Andy Magoffin so brilliantly capturing it all, as only he can.

i’m not so fond of this next stage. no clue how to promote/publicize/push. it feels wrong. don’t think i ever want it to feel right.

so i’m going to be quiet.

please do consider buying the album, if you like what you hear. it took three years of heavy sacrifice to coax these songs into existence, and although i’d do it again (and certainly will), and though money is such a strange and ugly thing in many ways, it also helps.

at the same time, i don’t want to deny my music to anyone. so: if you can’t buy it, if you’re too broke, then please just take it, with love. i made it available in all sorts of uncomfortable places because i don’t want to keep it from anyone who is unable to purchase it.

there’s no internet where i’m going, thank god. but i can find it in the little town nearby, now and again, and i’ll check once in a while when i go to pick up supplies. weather permitting. so: if you want to send some words, let me know what the songs are doing to you, i’d appreciate it. i know how much i adore this album, but it’s definitely scary and heartbreaking to put it out into the world without me beside it. it’s been a secret for three years now. i can only hope that it finds a safe home in all of you.

when i come back i will try my hardest to book some shows near all of you. if you want to see raised by swans live, that is. but it’s not easy. if you had any idea of how much i want to see all of your lovely faces, to sing to you after all these years. but i need your help. any suggestions or contact information would sure help me get started. please write to raisedbyswans@gmail.com if you have any ideas for me. thank you.

here’s where you can buy Öxnadalur right now:

CD copies:
maplemusic.com – http://www.maplemusic.com/artists/rbs/disc.asp
(shipping is worldwide – for orders outside of North America, click on the red text (“click here if your order is to be shipped to areas OUTSIDE of Canada or the United States”)
Bandcamp – https://raisedbyswans6.bandcamp.com/album/xnadalur
(shipping also worldwide – i have a friend helping me out with these shipments while i’m away, so no signed copies available, sorry.)

(lossless audio, multiple formats, artwork included!):

it’s also streaming in all sorts of places.

that’s all i have right now, everyone. i’ve done all i can to make it available for all of you.

so: i officially give you Öxnadalur. with all of my love, panic, ecstasy, sadness, and triumph. and now i hope you’ll all understand that i need to get away for a short time. back soon.

be seeing you.

much love,