The House of Songs alumnus Ashtyn Barbaree and her band members recently toured Europe through their involvement with The House. Here, she reflects on what the experience meant to her and her team. After reading, head over to KUAF for an audio interview and music preview Ashtyn shared after her trip.
Touring Europe is a dream come true for many musicians. The ability to travel as a solo artist and play international shows can be very meaningful. The rare opportunity to travel with a full band leaves a more profound impression on listeners and allowed us to share our music with a diverse audience. The House of Songs made it possible for me to bring my two bandmates which allowed us to give our listeners a fuller experience and make a bigger impact.
Back at home, we have shows where audiences listen, but often there are distractions like TVs, phones, and talking. Our tour of Europe gave us the gift of audiences that listened actively and who placed great value on the music. Even with a full, drunken room, they would get quiet when an introduction began. This made shows much more vulnerable and I loved showcasing new songs in that environment.
Before travelling to Denmark, I assumed many musicians there would sing predominantly in their native language, Danish, with possible adaptations of English songs. In fact, I was surprised to find that while song introductions and banter were in Danish, we almost exclusively heard them sing in English. A part of me still wishes we had heard more Danish songs, while we couldn’t comprehend the lyrical message, the melodies would evoke a panorama of emotions.
The support among artists, specifically in Copenhagen’s music community, was unbelievable. We spent most of our trip in Denmark and really got to know the songwriters. By the time we left, it felt like we became a musical family.
For a show in Roskilde, Denmark, we met up with a House of Songs musician by the name of Stanley Samuelsen. We had the opportunity to open for him at the Gimle Cafe, a hygge little spot outside of Copenhagen. Before the show, we ate a Danish style meal and learned about the history and culture of the Faroe Islands, a territory of the Kingdom of Denmark. Stanley told us of how he grew up speaking Faroese, but later he learned Danish and English. He has a recent album called Folksongs from the Faroe Islands and had me sing the verse and chorus of “Kvøldsongur.” While I don’t understand Faroese, I wrote out a sort of phonetic set of words beneath the lyrics in order to properly pronounce the words given to me. In return, we invited Stanley to sing “I’ll Fly Away” and “Folsom Prison Blues” with us. The audience loved the collaboration, making the evening memorable.
This entire experience has encouraged me to travel, write, collaborate, play, and attend more meaningful shows. We received a positive and heartwarming response from our shows abroad. We have plans set to return to Europe in November and December of 2019. We look forward to the opportunity to branch out and make new and meaningful connections in the future.