happy fifth anniversary, Öxnadalur.
happy fifth anniversary, Öxnadalur.
(first posted 13.9.18 on facebook)
it’s 11 in the morning and home recordings of a nearly finished album #4 are washing over me at devastating volumes as i type this. even though i was tired and anxious when i first sat down i’m now feeling more like a newborn phoenix breathing in synch with the entire universe than a lone, bespectacled man sitting in a public library with headphones on and a banana on the table in front of him. last night at 3 am my heart was a freight train with its brakes ripped out as i lay in bed replaying the songs in my head. there were no sheep to count to help me sleep; lucky for them, as i could only have plowed through their woolly bodies at a million miles an hour, shouting apologies over my shoulder as i hurtled through the night.
i’m back in Canada now after six challenging but extraordinary months alone and vehicle-less in the countryside of North Iceland, where i found the songs #4 had been missing. while there i also became a tree dad to 10,000 baby birches, literally hiked my boots into pieces, slept in three caves (one beneath a thundering waterfall, one beneath a mountain, and one i hollowed out of a snow drift), buried two tiny friends from the winter of 2018 who had somehow squeezed into a bottle of peanut oil and drowned, discovered fossils in a wild place meant to be bulldozed, and acted as a surrogate innkeeper to sporadic guests who mostly treated me as nothing more than an insignificant shadow. which was fine with me. oh and i made preserved lemons.
every króna/dollar i managed to save from working is for recording costs, and i’m so grateful for these opportunities to earn some money as i worked on music in privacy, close to nature – very eric-specific circumstances i either can’t find or afford in Canada, as beautiful and enormous as this country is. thanks S and Ó, and thanks Skógræktin, even though i nearly lost my mind many times planting the 10,000 babies up in the hills, especially when my ancient iPod malfunctioned and insisted on playing one of the worst songs ever conceived over and over again in a horizontal rain.
if all goes well, #4 will be released in early 2020, which also happens to be the 10 year anniversary of “no ghostless place” (see below).
i want to start looking into booking tours/shows for spring/summer/fall 2020 to celebrate the release. the truth is i usually get stopped by my own anxiety, as booking shows is a horrendously unpleasant task. trying not to have this happen this time. will check in with some wonderful people who helped organize things with the last European tours with Midas Fall and see if they can help for a start.
on the same note, i refuse to do what i did for ‘Öxnadalur’, which was essentially run away the moment i released it. again, i was overwhelmed with all the uncomfortable non-musical stuff that comes with making music. but i can’t have that happen again. this album has taken five years of my life, and i want to celebrate it for a long time.
anything anyone can do or suggest to help keep me out of my shell, find shows, etc. would be so appreciated. i will hire a band, some people who’ve played with me before, and there will be massive glorious full band shows and also the tiny intimate solo ones i love so much, as these different contexts have always been equally important to me.
also, i hope to finally release “no ghostless place” on vinyl. on or around its 10 year anniversary, which is January 2020. still working on this with a very patient person who first offered to help me fund it two years ago (very patient, as mentioned – thank you, R).
that’s all for now. my bravery is evaporating as i’ve turned the music off. but in keeping with my promise to myself to try not be so shy as this album reaches its climax, you’ll be hearing from me more often as its release approaches. just with less words. i won’t ever be someone who spreads himself across dozens of social media platforms, but i can’t rely only on facebook and my personal website forever. soon i will start using a long-dormant twitter account, if only for the most basic updates. my brain might have other ideas, but i’m going to stay a phoenix for as long as i can. maybe i can burn my way through some darkness for a while, if only for the sake of these songs, which are everything to me, as dear as my blood.
today is my first day back in the House of Miracles since two years ago. i’m heading there right now.
thrilled and touched that GEO France has featured ‘old fires’ in an introduction video to an article on Iceland’s Westfjords, in a remote corner of which two of its staff found me hidden away last year.
merci beaucoup, Olivier et Thomas. c’est un honneur de savoir que ma musique a accompagné votre voyage.
for those in the Middle East and Northern Africa, all three albums are now available on Anghami.
march 14th, 2019.
i’m alone in North Iceland, finishing the writing of album #4.
i’ll be here for six months; as of May saving every króna i can from a job towards a final block of recording time, a solitary sort of position that will allow me to remain a yeti’s shadow. though i will have to say good-bye to the cave. i’ve already noticed the sun eyeing it hungrily.
also, a kind person who first contacted me in 2017 is still willing, it seems, to help with the manufacturing of some beautiful gatefold vinyl copies of “no ghostless place”, despite me vanishing for most of 2018. this is lovely, and if all goes well will coincide with the release of #4.
there are 19 songs right now, all in various stages of completion, all so dear to me i almost can’t bear it. i wake up in the night and want to check on them. whether they all make it on to the album or some end up in different places, i can hardly wait to share them with you.
i hadn’t realized it until recently, but it turns out that the concert coming up on December 1st will not only be the sole raised by swans performance happening in the southwestern quadrant of the Upper Franconian region of the Free State of Bavaria during the year of 2018, but also on the entire planet Earth. minus the ones i’ve unwittingly put on for the birds and mountains outside the attic window as i work, that is. not to mention the phantom mice downstairs, who likely aren’t even listening, but using the opportunity to urinate into the toaster.
this will be my third appearance in Bamberg since 2015, thanks to my dear friend Martin, who has arranged all three down to the smallest detail. each has been unique and deeply significant to me, and if you’ve been to either past show (or both) you know what an enchanting town Old Bamberg is (you’ll forgive me for using the word “enchanting” once you’ve been, whether i end up forgiving myself or not), with its warren of cobblestoned passageways, its rivers of rauchbier (also, i should note, of water; the Regnitz runs right through/beneath the centre of town, its beauty as intoxicating as the smoked beer, especially at night, and especially in tandem with the beer), its buildings humming with hundreds of years of history (some dating from the 13th and 14th century), its delicious food, its daily outbursts of church bells, and its natural history museum, where in 2016 i gazed upon both a two-headed duckling and some 200 year-old pears.
so: come to Bamberg in December. the 200 year-old pears are reason enough to visit. skip the concert; see the pears. i’ll understand.
in 2019 i hope there will be more concerts than one. currently i’m finishing writing album #4, breathing again after a blur of underwater months courtesy of too many cement blocks attached to my brain, alone and kicking hard in the house where i wrote much of ‘Öxnadalur’, clocks turned to the walls, a bearded shadow nursing an incubator full of songlings, several of the more grown up of which i’ll be bringing with me to Bamberg. those in attendance will be the first people to hear them. i’ll also be playing songs from my past three albums.
after album #4’s release sometime in 2019 (#4 will be as fully orchestrated as the previous three), i’d like to get a band together again and do some proper touring, both with other musicians and alone.
please forgive my blathering but i need to take advantage of a rare day and write and post a proper update while i’m feeling brave and wide open. which to be honest is a rather easy way to feel only an hour or so after listening to Maurice Sendak saying, during an interview (and this only a few months before he died), “live your life, live your life, live your life,” from a small speaker across the room.
the poster for the show is attached. thank you to my old friend Antranik Tchalekian (skullwingdoors / underwoodghostways) for once again capturing my brain-pictures (plus an actual photograph, this time) with his ultra-talented hands. and to Reimar for preparing a print-worthy version. and to both for their patience.
i hope you’re all navigating your own dark hallways without feeling too scared or lost, or better yet, that you’re feeling lit up and healthy and loved, and i very much hope to see you in Upper Franconia in December, specifically Bamberg, where i will be coming straight from the inside of a snow drift in northern Iceland to sing to you and to see what it’s like to be around human beings again.
remember to email Martin @ email@example.com to buy tickets and/or if you need help finding accommodations.
a very special raised by swans performance will be happening in Bamberg, Germany on Saturday, December 1st, 2018, at Alte Seileri Bamberg.
please email Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve advance tickets (€10) and/or with inquiries about accommodations.
it’s been difficult to imagine writing an update of any kind over the past five and a half months. please forgive the extended silence. more soon.
a bespectacled chrysalis is moments away from passing through a gate. it is smuggling songs inside its brain.
i wish i wasn’t writing this. in late 2016 a terrible door appeared somewhere in the distance, a door whose location i wouldn’t be able to predict or avoid and whose other side i couldn’t bear to imagine. tried to dig under it, ignore it, destroy it with love and focus and hard work, but failed. on december 27th, 2017, i finally lost my beautiful number six, after 22 years and 7 months of the most extraordinary and tender togetherness. and the door closed behind me. there isn’t a raised by swans song in existence that hasn’t in an early home version had his purrs or meows or sleeping heartbeat appear on my vocal tracks. just as there is not a moment in the future where i will not miss him.
i’m sharing this to explain the longer than usual silence. to mark his passing, because he deserves it. and to explain the impossible release date last year also, to all of you, and to myself. forgive me but i needed to believe in it. and now it’s 2018 somehow, and though my little place is quieter and emptier and colder than it was, music is here with me again. songs i began recording last year for album #4 revealing their truths like invisible ink on a warmed map. new songs coming to life. i’m back to work.
i’d meant to write something about the european tour with Midas Fall but haven’t been capable and still am not. but it was a tremendous adventure. more perhaps about that in a later update. for now, i just wanted to say that i’m here. that my darling, miraculous number six, as much as my heart aches to admit it, is not. and that i hope you’re okay out there, wherever you are.
and number six, 1994-2017.