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 events@hinter-den-tueren.de.

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)

home, and feeling terribly disoriented and empty. not up for writing much, but want to say something important before too much time passes.

i left for my European tour in early November thinking that it would essentially be a solitary adventure. that no matter who was around me now and then, or listening to me sing each night from the darkness offstage, i would ultimately be alone in the clubs, alone in a hostel room each night, alone after it was all over. this was okay with me, as solitude is a choice i so often make. i even assumed i’d go off to Iceland for a few days after Offenbach to decompress in the mountains and snowstorms for a few days, alone.

of course i was still alone much of the time. but these periods felt like transitions more than anything else, bridges between warm places. in truth, i was surrounded by the kindest and most giving people i could ever have imagined, people who disarmed me and overrode my shyness, and made me feel like being alone was something that i should leave for another time. that i was where i belonged, even if only for a brief and wondrous few weeks. through Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia, and Czech Republic, and the incredible adventures i had in all of these magical places, people from all over Europe, and the people i travelled and shared stages with, made the past month so vivid and beautiful that as heartbroken and not at all ready to stop as i am feeling now that i am at home in Canada, i have so many lovely memories within easy reach that i feel i will get through the disorientation and pain of missing all of you, and all i went through, and emerge intact. and possibly even stronger than i already was.

still far too raw and emotional to get any of this right. to process that these connections are once again held together over thousands of miles only by words on screens and memories, not faces and voices and dim stages where i could sing to you every night, sense you standing on the outskirts of the stage lights. but before i disappear for a little while to readjust, and to try to start working on booking some new shows, writing new music, i want to say thank you to everyone who helped me, talked to me, hugged me, showed me around, fed me, kept me company, drank with me, listened to me sing, did my sound, gave me a place to sleep, shared the stage with me, shared their stories with me, and made me feel that in spite of my enduring love for solitude, and how my heart so often feels, i’m not as alone as i think i am. and that my music is not only alive, but spreading hope in all sorts of faraway places, and in all sorts of beautiful wounded hearts.

thank you.



left my CDs in Zupanja, Croatia. no way to get them back before the end of the tour. bought some blanks and will madly burn and handcraft a few in Točník.

Bratislava, Slovakia an emotional show. enjoying the whirlwind (not literally ‘limping’, for those concerned about my last update, Zupanja just a tough set), but tired of losing things, and missing the beautiful people i’ve had to leave behind, both from past gigs and back in Canada. and of course missing Number Six desperately.

but last night i sang, and the people who came out were so warm and appreciative. forgot my forgetfulness for a while, and felt like i was where i was supposed to be.

Romania was wood smoke and stray dogs, grape vine-entangled houses, horse-drawn carts, roller coaster mountain roads, cancelled shows, a drunken night off in Brașov with Midas Fall, and a ferry ride in my tiny car across the Danube under the stars after a tense border crossing, a tugboat nudging me and a few enormous trucks precariously along through the black water on a floating platform, with no clue where i really was, and no reason to care.

Saturday night a wonderful show in Cluj Napoca, at The Shelter, where i played for a small but very sweet and attentive audience before Midas Fall took the stage and destroyed the universe in the loveliest possible way.

spoke with several people in Cluj who had lost friends in the Colectiv fire. watched a Romanian band celebrate their album release. then three hours’ “sleep” as the nightclub below pounded its beats up into the ceiling, music still shaking the building at 5 am when i got up like a drugged gorilla to start driving for Sofia in the wet darkness. pulled over and fined by the Romanian police for speeding in the midst of driving 13 straight hours through rainy villages and two terrible car accidents and misty mountains to get to Sofia and my flight to Vienna, where i slept briefly before driving again for Croatia, arriving just in time to play, thanks to the best GPS available: a local man on a bicycle.

Burgas, Bulgaria feels like fifty years ago now. a metal club with interior decorating inspired by Jack Daniels, my brief set a weird and clearly somewhat unwelcome interlude wedged into a playlist of Bulgarian hardcore and Rage Against the Machine. almost didn’t find the venue in time, even locals baffled and unable to understand what i was looking for (the bar’s name, not so helpfully, translates to “bar with no name”) and then misplaced my rental car in the mayhem of dragging my gear randomly around the dark streets, listening for Midas Fall’s soundcheck. finally found it the next morning with its back wheel clamped and a ticket on the windshield.

just leaving Bratislava with Midas Fall for Czech Republic, (the show is in Točník, not Loukov), then Berlin tomorrow. very excited. i will connect with all of you properly soon, those i owe emails to, but for now i am being whisked away again, and wanted to finally post an update, as ragged as i know it is.

much love,


somehow limped my way through my set in Zupanja, Croatia just now after driving 22 hours over the past two days (and flying for two) on four hours of sleep. a lovely welcome to town when my despised but sadly necessary GPS failed me yet again and an enthusiastic older man found me looking bewildered and insisted on escorted me and my little car on his bicycle through the streets for the last kilometre or so to the club, where i was immediately offered some local moonshine and asked to start, my brain and body still going 150 km an hour on an empty highway.

a proper post about where i’ve been over the past few days tomorrow, but for now some news: Trnava has been cancelled due to a stabbing, but there is a new show tomorrow in Bratislava instead. the venue is called British Rock Stars, to the amusement/embarrassment of Midas Fall. see you there.

more about Romania and Bulgaria tomorrow.

wish you were here.



thank you to the Bee Bop Cafe and all who made it out to the show. it was a wonderful night; the first of nine dates with Midas Fall. Plovdiv is a lovely, mysterious place, one of the oldest cities in the world, and the people here have been welcoming, generous and thoughtful from the moment i arrived. i only wish i had more time to explore.

heading now to the coast of the Black Sea – a last-minute show has been arranged in Burgas, Bulgaria at a venue called ‘biz bize (?)’. hope to see you there.

regarding Romania: due to the terrible and heartbreaking tragedy at Colectiv, the show in Bucharest has been cancelled. the shows in Iasi (on the 20th) and Cluj Napoca (on the 21st) are still on.



made it to Plovdiv, Bulgaria. a cozy club called the Bee Bop Cafe. first show with Midas Fall, who brought a little friend with them.

hope to see you tonight.



raised by swans's photo.