Eric began writing the songs for Öxnadalur in North Iceland in 2011, staying alone over the winter of that year in a farmhouse close to Hraun, the birthplace of poet, author and naturalist Jónas Hallgrímsson.  

In 2013 he was invited to design two signs (minus text) in support of the inhabitants of Öxnadalur’s wishes to keep overhead power lines out of the valley – specifically, Landsnet’s proposed Blöndulína 3 power line project.  The signs currently stand in the valley alongside the main road; the smaller textless signs in grassy fields to the north and south, and the main sign on the periphery of a small turnoff of its own, in front of Hraun.  This sign is referenced in Hraun í Öxnadal-Fólkvangur, a 2014 book by Bjarni Gudleifsson, who included its image in an epilogue detailing the protective actions being taken on behalf of the valley by its inhabitants and others.

The documentary Línudans, which focuses on the progress of Skagafjörður and Eyjafjörður-based farmers and landowners struggles against Landsnet, was released in 2017; both signs appear briefly within the film (YouTube link (with English subtitles) here:

Öxnadalur is named not only for the valley which inspired its creation, but also as a tribute to Jónas Hallgrímsson.  The cover of Öxnadalur shows Hraundrangi, the gathering light in the sky above the mountains representing the formation of Hallgrímsson’s ‘Star of Love’, from his poem Journey’s End.

Following many subsequent visits, Eric lived in the remote settlement of Norðurfjörður in Strandir over the spring and summer of 2018, during which he tended a small local grocery shop (once ordering 1 kg of bananas and instead receiving 5 cases), delivered mail, cleaned fish, fed sheep, collected eiderdown from a tiny island, and helped search for fossils in the hills above Hvalá.  Throughout this summer he joined friends in defending some of Europe’s final true wilderness against the proposed construction of Hvalárvirkjun, a hydroelectric plant, and subsequently was asked to provide the English translation for a new hiking map of the area (link to come).

In 2019, he planted 10,000 baby birch trees in the hills of Öxnadalur, working alone.

In March 2023, the Swiss/RTS short film “Islande, lumières des Hautes Terres” (“Iceland, lights of the highlands”) was released worldwide as an episode of the popular “Passe-Moi Les Jumelles” (PAJU) series.  Eric’s music features prominently within the documentary, thanks to a connection made between him and the narrator, French photographer and journalist Olivier Joly (who he met in 2018 in Norðurfjörður, and subsequently became friends with), and later the filmmaker, Jean-Marc Chevillard.

“Islande, lumières des Hautes Terres” can be watched here:

Olivier Joly also included a photo of Eric/Raised By Swans in his evocative book of black-and-white Icelandic photography, “Sagas” (click here for more information).  In the photograph, Eric is pictured climbing somewhat grimly up his favourite mountain in Norðurfjörður in a grey drizzle, shortly after completing a shift at the aforementioned shop, where he was mostly hopelessly out of his depth.  The mountain (Urðartindur) was a treasured companion during these months; after the shot was captured, Eric continued on to the peak alone.




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