shows, pianos, codes and secret longing:

a final reminder of two very special shows coming up soon – the first in Moscow, Russia on Saturday, October 22nd at Vermel (Вермель) and the second in Bamberg, Germany on Thursday, October 27th, at Jazzkeller. don’t forget to email Martin Beyer if you’d like to reserve tickets for Bamberg – his address (along with details for both shows) is listed under tour information.

i’ve arranged several songs i’ve either only rarely or never played live for piano for these two shows. i’ll have my guitar too, but the piano will be the focus. unlike my show in London last month when my hands mutinied against my brain and turned into sleeping rabbits in the midst of ‘pale blue black holes’, i’ve had the chance to practice enough this time that i’m mostly certain my hands will remain my hands.

trying to book a few solo piano/voice shows here in Canada to stay above water – Toronto on December 2nd is already confirmed, at a small and beautiful art space near Trinity Bellwoods. full details soon. i hope to get out west and east also, as well as into the US for either December or early 2017. Mexico too, if possible. it’s anxious, lonely and uncomfortable work, attempting to book shows, so any assistance is always appreciated. suggestions of intimate venues with pianos are welcome as well.

still hoping that the European tour with Midas Fall is able to happen in the first months of next year.

too busy with writing and recording to find the time to get a band together for fully orchestrated shows just yet, but that will happen over the next several months also.

CD copies of ‘Codes and Secret Longing’ will be available as of next week again through bandcamp, after a long period of near-extinction. i was heartbroken to sell one of the very last copies last week, as i thought i’d never be able to afford a reorder, but have since discovered that the factory i use to manufacture my CDs now allows orders of (much) less than 1000 at a time. so i was finally able to afford a few more. they arrive just in time for my flight out of Canada next week.

i hope to see some of you very soon in either Germany or Russia.



‘trains we both missed’ and ‘pale blue black holes’ are now available on iTunes, as well as a wide spectrum of other digital retailers.

‘sightings’, a lone song that has lived quietly and exclusively on bandcamp since i put it out in 2013, is finally available through the same channels.

(a special note about bandcamp: they now accept credit and debit card payments as opposed to paypal only.)

lyrics for the new songs are here, for all who have asked.

a message about upcoming shows soon – in the meantime, some details have been added regarding the Russia/Germany performances at the end of the month, under ‘tour’.



my two new songs are available here, right now:

i thought i could wait until tomorrow afternoon to release them – my original ill-conceived plan – but i can’t.  my emotions are running way, way too high, and i haven’t slept the past couple of nights.  plus i’ve been drinking some whiskey.

so it’s going to be now.  because 12:03 am is the 13th.  by three minutes, it’s tomorrow, in relation to my last message. and because nights are generally less anxious times for me than days, this feels right to me. i’ll sleep soon, knowing that the songs are finding their way to all of you through the night.

‘trains we both missed’ and ‘pale blue black holes’ are two songs that i randomly picked to record and release from thirteen that are running through my mind on a constant, beautiful, maddening loop these days.  please do purchase them if you can, as i exhausted all my saved money just getting these two to sound as lovely as i think they do.  

but most important to me is that you listen, and share. and feel held.  i understand being broke, and i know that many of you struggle similarly.  so please, just take them if you can’t afford to spend any money.  and as soon as i am able i will book sessions to get going on the rest of the album, regardless of what happens.

just promise me that you’ll listen at high volumes, and with good headphones if you can.  share if you want. and know that i’m with you in every note and word.

to those who have asked – both of these songs (plus ‘sightings’, finally) will be available on iTunes, Amazon, and a variety of other digital retailers very soon.

it’s not lost on me for one moment that i am the luckiest man in the world to be able to share my music with people like all of you. the love and open emotion in your messages and letters does such wondrous things to my heart. all i can hope is that you can feel my love returned to you in my music. when i disappear i am thinking of almost nothing but my songs. but when i emerge, it’s to you. what could possibly be better than that.

thank you.

all of my love,


1. i’ll be releasing two new songs from my upcoming album this Tuesday, September 12th. arrived home from the studio at 2:30 this morning with tears drying on my face from listening at volumes that made the car i was driving feel like it had grown wings. one last session tomorrow evening and all will be ready.

for now i’m only able to afford to offer digital versions, though in my imagination they are on shiny black vinyl, side A and B of a beautiful 7″ inch record. please purchase them if you are able, as 11 more songs are ready to be recorded, and as hard as i try to save for studio time, it will take forever without your help.

2. Martin, the lovely man who originally invited me to Bamberg, Germany for last November’s unforgettable, sold-out show at Villa Concordia with Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir, sent me a picture of the posters he’s printed for the Jazzkeller show a couple of weeks ago, and my heart has been racing ever since.

i hope that some of you can make it to this very special show. Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – entering old town is like stepping into a colour plate from a book of fairy tales, with its maze of cobblestoned streets and church spires on every horizon, the Regnitz flowing right through its heart, the Franconian Alps to the southeast, and its centuries of culture and history, dark and light, radiating up through the old stones. plus it has amazing beer. whether you come to hear me sing or not, it’s a gorgeous and fascinating place to visit, especially in the fall.

if you do happen to be there in late October, and find yourself wandering about after too many pints of rauchbier on Thursday the 27th, stumble into Jazzkeller and find me. i’ll be there.

(for those who would like to come to the show, please contact Martin to reserve tickets in advance – his email address is

3. i’m very excited and honoured to have been invited back to Russia for a show in Moscow on October 22nd, thanks to the efforts of the glorious team that not only so generously arranged to fly me there last November but took such tender care of me while i was there, including arranging such an intimate and perfect show that the memory of that night is a constant source of warmth. more details soon about this.

4. see my previous post about the Dundas Street Festival in London, Ontario, where i’ll be performing on Saturday, September 17th as part of its ‘Night Under Shooting Stars’ showcase.

5. hopefully the pre-order for vinyl editions of No Ghostless Place will happen soon. apologies for the delay – the man who i was organizing things with in France over the past year or so suddenly disappeared, and i’ve had to connect with someone new at the label. thank you to all who have expressed interest in the meantime.

6. two new songs this Tuesday. this feels like it deserves repeating. impossible to express how it feels to write that, and to finally be so close to sharing something new with all of you..




the night i’m performing at the Dundas Street Festival in London, Ontario will be accompanied by an art installation by Gabriella Solti that “compresses shooting star activity in the sky over London over the past 50 years into 3 hours”.

this equals approximately 0.28 years’ worth of nights per minute. which means that the shooting stars Gabriella will be projecting when i start at 9:20 pm will be the same ones that were streaking across the sky just after i’d released my first album, codes and secret longing, back in april 2005.

come feel like a tiny, meaningless blip in the history of the universe with me, You’ll Never Get To Heaven and Wormwood on September 17th.



home again after 3 days and nights spent in a cocoon of instruments and microphones at the House of Miracles in Cambridge recording two of my new songs. nearly drove off the road on my way back here listening to the rough mixes, i was so overcome.

a bit more work to do on the 6th and 7th and then i’ll be able to share them with all of you.




01. returning to Bamberg, Germany for a solo performance on October 27th. grateful to Martin Beyer for reaching out and arranging this in the midst of a complicated year. advance tickets can be reserved by emailing Martin at

02. a small independent label based in Paris, France (microcultures) has offered to help organize a possible printing of vinyl copies of my first three albums, likely starting with No Ghostless Place – definitive 2-record editions with lyrics, additional artwork, extended/amended liner notes, and possibly a bonus song or two. the label can’t afford the costs of the initial fabrication either, but unlike me, is competent and patient enough to set up and manage some sort of a pre-order situation. if enough are interested, there will be vinyl.

03. i will start recording the new album in September. writing not quite finished/pockets pretty much empty but my brain feels like a doomed orchestra on a sinking ship these days, every passing second a fathom. portholes beginning to crack. will try to release a new song before i head to Germany.

05. my dear and far too far away UK-based friends Midas Fall hinted at a possible European tour together in January 2017 not so long ago. then Brexit happened and introduced all sorts of uncertainties. still, there is hope.

06. playing an outdoor solo set in London, Ontario in September, thanks once again to a kind and unexpected invitation. no date/details yet..

07. will get a band together again as well to play some full-instrumentation shows when i can. booking and preparing for shows (solo or otherwise) difficult enough when one isn’t underwater, nearly impossible when one is.

07. (b) i’ve promised myself not to disappear like i did after i released Öxnadalur once i finish this album. promising this to all of you now too. live shows have to happen everywhere, somehow. or at least everywhere you’ll have me. until then, know that it’s all i want.






disappearing now, into silence and solitude and secret places, and to finish writing the new album.

thank you for the warm and constructive support following my last post.  it’s been a catch-22 for many years now – with no record label or publicist or future interviews to set things straight, the only option i’ve had to correct misinformation about raised by swans has been to create new references to the truth through the updates i write now and then.  but it’s always felt terribly uncomfortable turning a light on over myself.  mostly i’ve just neglected it completely.

thankfully, what i wrote a few weeks ago morphed into something definitive, and final.  and now i can turn that light off for good.  thanks for your patience.

thank you also to the kind youtube channel owners who have corrected ancient errors on my behalf.

take care of yourselves.  proper updates once i reconnect, about the upcoming album, shows, and other things.

if i could only share my new songs with you somehow right now, i would.  in my head they are nearly fully formed, and so lovely and powerful that i feel like even in their unfinished states they could carry me in a swoon across the ocean to Iceland.



© e.h. 2013
© e.h. 2013

not many who listen to raised by swans know this, but i’ve only ever written my songs alone – every part for every instrument, every word, every beat, every note and chord and sound.  from Codes and Secret Longing to No Ghostless Place to ‘sightings’ to Öxnadalur, everything you hear when you listen to those recordings – everything, spanning 17 years now, and 41 released songs thus far – is only mine.  not because raised by swans is or ever was a band with one person dominating the songwriting and decision-making, but because raised by swans is and always has been a solo artist, as both lonely and pompous as that term somehow sounds all at once.  because raised by swans is me.

as outside of the internet as i live my life, i’m still haunted by the pronoun choices i made in the midst of a couple of manic interviews many years ago, and a few early bios as well, about raised by swans – things i said out of feeling not much love or appreciation for myself, and a sort of crazed, ultra-gratitude towards the people who accompanied me during live shows back then, and here and there on my first two albums, playing parts they’d learned from recordings i’d made.  i deeply appreciate everyone who plays with me onstage, always have, and andy continues to be a dear friend and vital partner in terms of helping me get what’s in my brain on tape.  but this is about my songs, and the fact that before ‘sightings’ in 2013, and a post i wrote to accompany its release, i didn’t ever take proper credit for all i’d done, for how much i’d fucking bled for every moment of every song, the agonies and ecstasies and thousands of hours of hard work and sleepless nights.  being as private and hidden away as possible has always tended to be my default setting.

and now, those errors i made feel immoveable and eternal, as if they’re fixed to the ether simply by virtue of how long they’ve been there, and can therefore only be true.  in the rare instance that i’m directed through a notification to a song of mine on a seemingly disowned youtube channel that confidently defines raised by swans as an “indie band”, or as a “they” and not a “he”, when each of my albums has nearly killed me to create over years of effort and sacrifice and constant obsession, i feel a kind of helpless sorrow, shocking in its intensity.  this is usually followed by a ferocious, mother bear-like protective instinct, that probably means something is very wrong with me.  but i’d rather people think i’m deranged or falling apart than have the truth held under any longer by too much humility or the weight of too many years.  if i disappear forever, all of sudden, all i want is to have my songs’ births curled up tightly against my chest, where they belong.

of course i know and hold the truth already in my heart, and of course that should be all that matters, and when i’m climbing mountains in Iceland, or pushing my face into Number Six’s fur, it is.  but raised by swans is also what tethers me to the rest of the world, earns me a warm little hollowed out spot in the universe where i feel like i’ve truly given everything i have, contributed something that’s perhaps even valuable and beautiful and brave in its way.  it feels like it’s why i’m here.  it’s certainly what’s keeping me alive.

a sentimental sort of night provoked this.  last night i was working on my upcoming album, and as i was recording a raw version of one of the new songs, i realized with a sudden surge of affection that the entirety of the guitar and drum parts – everything you hear on all three albums and ‘sightings’ – was originally written and recorded using only two cheap and decidedly unassuming instruments: a dented Japanese telecaster with three holes drilled into its body, and an early 90’s drum machine that’s somehow survived hot candle wax, two minor floods, and so many spilled drinks that i’m surprised it hasn’t died from alcohol poisoning.  sitting there on the floor, bare feet tangled up in cords for the billionth time with these lovely, flawed things that have been with me from the start, my heart went out to them, and to all the years i have spent bent over them, ears ringing, heart racing or breaking or both.  and i felt the weight and lightness of all those thousands and thousands of hours at once, and broke down.  and decided i needed to write this.

as time goes by, the more i realize that i might never get to say some of the things i wish i could about all i’ve put into raised by swans over the years.  about what it is, and was, and will always be.  not that i want to disclose too much; i just want to feel that the truth is out there.  so maybe this one post is enough.  i’ve given my whole life to music.  and an extension of that commitment and its accompanying sense of utter, glorious freedom, and of all that music has given me in return, is the overwhelming love i feel for these old, wrecked instruments of mine.  and in a shy, but particularly beautiful way (to me at least, and hopefully to you as well), this also extends into the love i feel for all of you.  it’s because this is all so very, very personal to me that i write such intimate and emotional posts now and again, in spite of being such a private and solitary creature the majority of the time.  it’s why your letters and comments and emails so often move me to tears, and why they are among the most precious gifts i’ve ever received.  maybe knowing what raised by swans is makes it easier to understand just how much all of this means to me.

thank you for all of your support and love over the years.

love always,


a fortuitous moment with my camera timer in Iceland (secret location #177513). image © eric howden, 2015
raised by swans, Iceland; secret location #177513.  image © e. howden, 2015

hopefully all of you know by now that even when it seems i’ve disappeared, i’m always working on new music.  i’ll never not be, actually, unless i’ve died.  this i can promise you.  i just prefer to stay quiet as i do.

but i’m torn, because i also want to let you know what’s happening once in a while.  and what’s happening right now is that i’m very nearly ready to start recording my next album.  over the past few weeks i’ve been hiding out in the basement of an empty borrowed house with a piano, like the phantom of the opera.  minus the opera, and the organ, and the mask.  and the kidnapping.  and the songs i’ve been finishing up there and elsewhere since coming back from Europe in December feel like some of the best i’ve written.  it would be pointless to try to say anything more about them, but i wish you could hear them now.  they’re so lovely and cathartic to me, even in their raw and unfinished states, that i feel like i’ve been falling from a very tall building for the past several months.

needless to say, being so immersed in writing takes time and energy away from arranging shows.  which hurts, because i miss playing live more than anything.  but i’ll be working on booking some performances as soon as i can as well.

love always,



playing ‘violet light’ with Midas Fall accompanying, K17, Berlin, Germany – 26.11.15 (photo Hermiona Wurzelfuß)
K17, Berlin, Germany – 26.11.15 (photo Hermiona Wurzelfuß)