Nordic New Music: Astrid Swan

Today marks the release of Astrid Swan’s new album D/Other and we spoke to the Finnish singer about the album and the music that is defined by her song-writing and voice.

For those that have not discovered you yet how would you describe your sound?

Describing my own music is still difficult to me after many years of producing it and writing songs. I think my music is defined by my songwriting and my voice.

I sound like a 39-year-old woman telling her sometimes fractured other times hopeful stories against comforting chords and instrumentations. Thanks to my band the sound is more than this though, it is at times fairytale-like and other times just the bare necessities. This time around I am just interested in getting the story across and the music is there to do this as directly as possible.

Today sees the release of the album D/Other – tell us about the theme of the album and your inspirations going into it?

I began writing D/other the day after I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in May 2017. It was then that I knew I could never be cured and that eventually, this illness would kill me. I was interested in sleep and dreaming, their connecting power in this life, and in their symbolic meanings which often are connected to death.

Sleeping and dreaming can be locations of health, solace from the grueling everyday life of a cancer patient and they can be states of dreaming of a better time. In addition to this, I wanted to write about mothering. I wanted to leave behind songs for my children and I wanted to examine being a mother and a daughter at the same time.

The overall feeling of the album became a celebration of living, of human connection and the love and care that we are capable of. I wished to express the beauty that is what I see around me. Because this album was defined by the sense of being my last, I wished to tell the stories and express the feelings that seemed most important.

I tried to pack D/other full of comforting music and inspiring loving words.

You worked with Valreza Collective for the music video of Luxuries – tell us about the concept for the video?

The music video spans from the song to cover some of the major themes of the album: mothers and children, their relationality and how dreams and play interject into it. Luxuries the song and the video illustrate how in this mother-child bond there are some of the biggest luxuries in life: shared time, love, play. Valreza Collective managed to depict these themes in their playful and eloquent manner. The video showcases three generations of mothers and children.

You have some live shows coming up – how exciting is it to finally get on stage and play to an audience again?

It is exciting and a little scary after a long while. I look forward to playing with my band and not alone and, playing to listeners. I think we are all yearning for each other’s presence, to be in the same space together so actually, I think it is going to be the perfect conditions for some heart-felt evenings.

With the album released and shows coming up what can we expect next?

Hopefully more shows in different locations and venues in 2022. But to be honest, I don’t know what I can expect as my life is so defined by scan results and the state of my health. Now with the global Covid-19 pandemic, I guess everyone knows what I mean when I say I will just wait and see and hope for the best. I will spend my time being creative.

What was the last thing you watched, the book you read, and the album you listened to?

Work in Progress -series season 2 on HBO, Pose season 3 HBO, L Word generation Z (newest season) HBO, & documentary film on Poly Styrene

My Rock n Roll Friend by Tracy Thorn (book about The Go-Betweens drummer Lindy Morrison)

Lindsey Buckingham’s new solo album. Lots of great Brazilian and French albums that my partner puts on

Interview by Alex Minnis

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