Astrid Swan – Finnish singer/songwriter looking for inspiration @ House of Songs, Austin

My  name is Astrid Swan. I’m a Finnish singer/songwriter and a doctoral student from Helsinki.
I am currently in Austin Texas in The House of Songs. My stay here is dedicated to writing and co-writing with local songwriters. Luckily, I have also had time to explore Austin with my family, who I was fortunate enough to be able to bring along. It has been a wonderful break from the grey, cold and dark times of Finnish winter which we left behind. The bustling, warm and welcoming surroundings of Austin and its people have offered us a chance to pause and have some distance from our usual routines. Meeting local songwriters has been the best part of being here. It is quite a strange and exhilarating feeling to meet someone for the first time and then immediately write music and lyrics with that new person.

This trip to the USA has been significant for me personally, because for the past years I have remained very close to home – first with a small baby and then because I was in treatment for a life-threatening illness. The complete change of scenery has afforded me the freedom to redefine our day-to-day life, embrace new tastes, neighborhoods, friends, climates, thoughts and dreams.

Leaving our safe and sound home environment behind was not easy, but once we were on our way it has been fun!
After initial jet-lag, I have been surprised by how easily a young child adjusts to a new temporary home – embracing its differences and making gentle comparisons to his home far far away.

The nature in Austin has been a source of wonder and delight, our child has loved seeing palm trees, oranges, nut trees and millions of cactus variations. Another very material way of getting to know new surroundings is the local cuisine. We have enjoyed lots of Mexican food, some pizza, one meal of hamburgers and lots of home cooking from wonderful organic ingredients. Eating fresh berries, nuts and chilies and tasting the American cinnamon rolls for example, have been important steps in getting comfortable in a new place.

Since my last visit in Austin (in 2007) the city has grown and changed significantly. What I see and feel is simply my own interpretation, but it seems that there is a two-way development in action: on the one hand the city is attracting big business, it is becoming more expensive, consumer-oriented, polished and mainstream, but on the other hand poverty, homelessness, need and despair is more visible than before. The divide seems bigger.

The ‘old Austin’ with its rich alternative culture appears to be mostly a memory and a facade that is held up for tourists. Not being able to drive in a city like Austin is a real limitation. The lay-out of the city is not designed for walking or for public transport. Using services like Uber and taxis has been the only way for us to get to different areas of the city. We have also walked more than the locals. Walking has been a great way of experiencing the city, but some distances are simply too long. I have thought about the differences in city planning a lot this time during my stay. Reachability and access are key aspects in deciding what kinds of people are welcome to visit areas and parts of a city. I have noticed that this question of location is also a question of class in the US. From this point of view my hometown in Finland could not be more different.

Writing with local Austin songwriters has been very rewarding. I have learned about what kind of a songwriter I am. I have gotten lovely feedback and have admired the talent and originality of the musical souls I have met. I have also been able to compare cowriting culture here and in Finland.
It has been delightful to realize that good songs are still the currency that counts.

As I write my stay in Austin is nearing its end. We will stay in the US for another week-long vacation in New Mexico visiting some dear friends of our family. On Monday December 7th (TOMORROW) I will perform some songs at the Strange Brew Cafe in Austin. My fellow musicians and cowriters Graham Weber from Austin and the Swedish Simon Stålspets will be playing too.

TONIGHT Dec 7 she is performing @ Strange Brew Cafe (5326 Manchaca Road, Austin) with a fellow Swede Simon Stålspets and Graham Weber from Austin.

Just a quick look into Astrid’s world (an older tape though):

Website: Astrid Swan

Infographic: These are the cheapest cities in Europe to visit 2015

Anyone who is European or been to Europe knows that travel through Europe can be surprisingly costly. Even more if you have special interest in cities like London, Zurich, or Stockholm. However, travel through Europe can be affordable: that is if you know which cities to go to.
The website put together the infographic breaking down the cheapest cities in Europe.

The costs — which use what the Price of Travel website calls the “European Backpacker Index” — include a night in a hostel, two trips on public transportation, one paid attraction, three budget meals, and three drinks.

The top 10 cheapest cities are really amazing towns. The winner is in Ukraine.
Check the infographic out, and start rethinking that next European trip.


Miami – Dec 6 2015

Join author and climate provocateur Guy McPherson as he brings the debate on climate change and species extinction to the heart of the International Art Community at Basel Miami, ground zero when it comes to future sea level rise. This pop-up event, organized and moderated by Urban Hunters David Tamargo and Matthew Devlen, is the first in a series of events in the works to lead the artistic community on a creative crusade for the future of the planet.

Houston – Dec 16 2015

Please join us at Absolve Wine Lounge on December 16, 2015, at 6:00 pm for the EuroCircle Houston Christmas Party and White Elephant Gift Exchange. Happy hour prices on wine range from $5.00 to $8.00 per glass until 8:00 pm.

There will be 3 sparkling wines, 3 white wines, 1 rose, and 4 red wines available at those prices. Happy hour bites range from $3.50 to $6.00. If you would like to participate in the White Elephant Gift Exhange, bring a gift under $15.00 in value.

If you are not a member yet, please sign up on: — it is FREE.
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Your support is always appreciated. Please help spread the word among your connections.
Your hosts:

Venere, Shahla, Wade and Juliana
EuroCircle Houston Facebook Group
EuroCircle Houston Page at our website. Meet the team, check out our past event photos and more.

Denver – Dec 21 2015

Come kick-off your holiday vacation at EuroCircle’s holiday cocktail hour. This event will be at the beautiful Oxford Hotel’s Cruise Room.

Please invite all your European friends and Europhiles to join,

See you there!



PS. Are you at Facebook?  If you use the same email at both site, you can also login with your facebook login – the site will ask you if you want to use the same name (edit allowed), it will also ask you to edit EuroCircle City (Denver) and from which country you are from to complete your profile.

If you are NOT a member the same steps work – except this time all the information will be grabbed from your FB profile.