Anna Ottertun (Sweden)

RESIDENCY AT ”THE HOUSE OF SONGS” AUSTIN, TEXAS,  SPRING 2019

I arrived in Austin on the 13th of march in the middle of the festival SXSW together with a good friend from Göteborg, Sweden. We packed ourselves into her friend Bridgets house and started our musical journey in good guidance of Bridget. First we joined the ”Luck Reunion”, a ”festival in the festival” sort of say. A genuin feeling of old school americana, country and western music, played in the countryside, in a environment collected from an old western movie (the scenography of ”Red headed stranger”, I was told). It was a wonderful experience to have a whole day there and absorb the music through my jet lagged body and mind! The concert with Nathaniel Ratliff, was a highlight (here assisted by Courtney Marie Andrews, also lovely)

My festival continued with good music (a bit loud though, I think Austin have standards I´m not used to…) at STUBBS, famous old music club down town. Music, drinks and food for free! No wonder that it´s hard to make money as a musician in Austin…

My sweet, easy and safe stay in Austin ended sunday 17th of march, when my friend left for home and I entered an old quirky home, at Ceasar Chavez st (old mexican quarters). I was alone and it was the dirtiest home I´ve ever visited! I started writing songs and took my first walk at the Colorado river. They would become many during my stay. Bridget, who is a bit of an upper class woman, looked quite worried when she left me ;-)

On tuesday the 19th of march, Graham Weber came and picked me up at noon. It was time to enter the ”birds nest”, at The House of Songs. I was excited, but also afraid of being to lonely…As you might have noticed, I´m much of a social person, not a loner. My first week was a bit lonely, but I started planning for future co-writing and also some social events. 21st I did my first night adventure alone on the bike. I went to salsa at ”Moonfire lounge”, nervous of getting run over by cars on my way home. Brought a pan lamp from Sweden though… Came home sweaty and happy!

Except Salsa on thursdays, I performed at the open mic on mondays, at Cactus Café (2 times) and I joined the yogis as Umaluf garden two fridays in a row. I am very touched by the open environments I´ve met in Austin. I have never been so well received anywhere in the world where I´ve stayed, so it feels. For this I´m so grateful! The hippies/yogis also invited me to join them for a trip to ”Hippie Hollow”, a nudist beach at Travis Lake. I´ve baded naked with americans?! How cool is that?!  

During my stay in Austin, I´ve written a crop of seven songs. Three co-writes and four of my own. I consider it to be a satisfying crop. In the co-write processes (which still is quite new to me), I was surprised that the work with lyrics became quite intimate. My earlier experiences is that if you write with a total stranger, the lyrics easily becomes a bit shallow. People tend not to open up to much when they don´t know a person well. I´m happy this wasn´t the case with my co-writes! 

Bonnie Whitmore and Vanessa Lively. Unfortunately I didn´t take a photo of the third co-write, Amiee Bobruk.  

In conclusion I can only say that this has been one of the most inspiring trips I´ve ever made. I feel transformed. I´m so grateful being given this chance. A big thank you to both ”The House of Songs” with staff and to ”Konstnärsnämnden” for making all this possible! 

 

Sincerely, Anna Ottertun 16th of April 2019

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