copenhagen, denmark, design, scandinavia, Writing, Gestalten, Books, Work

Northern Comfort: The Nordic Art of Creative Living (Coming SOON)

"Northern Comfort: The Nordic Art of Creative Living takes a close look at some of the Nordic region’s most inspiring and insightful ideas and individuals." 

It is well known that the citizens of the Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland) enjoy an exceptionally high quality of life. Furthermore, year after year, the citizens of these five nations are regularly celebrated as some of the 'happiest in the world.'

With his newest book, author Austin Sailsbury goes beyond the statistics and the cliches to profile a wide range of individuals, brands, and regional experts in an attempt to discover what lies at the heart of the 'happy' Nordic life. Through interviews, essays, profiles, and captivating photography of real people at work and at play in the Nordic region, Northern Comfort: The Nordic Art of Creative Living (Gestalten Books) provides an inspiring and intimate introduction to the progressive societies, innovative ideas, cultural quirks, and creative individuals that have so recently captured the world's attention. Featured topics covered in the pages of Northern Comfort include: interior design and architecture, cuisine, family life, Nordic nature, outdoor adventure, and regional traditions.


2017, america, Best Of, favorites, list, music, Music, music mix, Best Albums

2017 | The Year In Music

A Good Year For The Veterans. But Where Were The Surprises?

Unlike 2015 and 2016, this year's list is a bit lacking in 'new music discoveries' (which is, admittedly, half the fun of sharing an 'end of year list'). Instead, 2017 was a year when some dependable artists put out really solid albums of new music (ie: Hiss Golden Messenger, Dan Auerbach, The War On Drugs, Iron & Wine, Fleet Foxes, David Ramirez, and Cataldo). The exceptions to this generalization are the other albums stirred into the favorites list below, notably Jake Xerxes Fussell, Ana Tivel, ALA.NI, Overcoats, and Bedouine.

And although I scoured list after list of other people's 'Best Albums' of 2017, very little from those lists caught or captured my attention (I'm looking at you NPR, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, etc.), which is really disappointing because December is usually a time when I stumble upon several new artists / albums that end up becoming long term favorites. But none of the favorite 'new artists' below (those artists that are 'new to me' at least) knocked me out in the same way that Wet, Chance The Rapper, Foy Vance, and Sturgill Simpson did in 2016.

But maybe I missed some amazing 'knock-me-out' artists or albums from 2017? Perhaps you can help...please comment below and share any favorite albums from 2017 that I omitted and that I need to hear. 

Anyway, here's my list (the album names link to artist videos)...

  1. Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up
  2. Jake Xerxes Fussell, What In The Natural World
  3. Cataldo, Keepers
  4. ALA.NI, You & I
  5. Bedouine, Bedouine
  6. Hiss Golden Messenger, Hallelujah Anyhow
  7. Lillie Mae, Forever And Then Some
  8. Iron & Wine, Beast Epic
  9. The War On Drugs, A Deeper Understanding
  10. David Ramirez, We're Not Going Anywhere
  11. Anna Tivel, Small Believer
  12. Overcoats, Young
  13. Dan Auerbach, Waiting On A Song



2017, books, copenhagen, denmark, design, Summer, travels, Writing

Introducing The New 'Hidden Copenhagen' Website

All images taken from the new . Family portrait by  Alec Vanderboom.

All images taken from the new Family portrait by Alec Vanderboom.

Summer is Here.

And just in time for your summer travels, the good folks at Luster Books have introduced the official 'Hidden Copenhagen' website by Luster Books, part of their new

Along with preview sections from the book, the 'Hidden Copenhagen' page also features a 'Meet The Author' page as well as ways to buy the book online. Each book in the 'Hidden' series has it's own page, so you can get busy exploring Barcelona, London, Lisbon, Rome, and several others. 

**The third edition of The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen is OUT NOW!**

2017, america, Camp

Easter at Camp Wandawega

All photos by the man, the myth, the legend: photo wunderkind  Alec Vanderboom.

All photos by the man, the myth, the legend: photo wunderkind Alec Vanderboom.

By far one of our adventures from this crazy year traveling around America was spending Easter weekend at Camp Wandawega in Walworth County, Wisconsin. A few years ago, I wrote a book chronicling the history of Camp Wandawega (you can read that here), but it wasn't until this Spring that I was actually able to visit in person. And maybe the only thing better than spending Easter at Camp Wandawega was having our friend and photographer extraordinaire Alec Vanderboom there with us to document the magic of it all.

*An immeasurable thanks to the wonderful and talented David and Tereasa (and Charlie) for hosting us!

**Learn how you can go visit Camp Wandawega this summer!

***Getting married? You need Alec Vanderboom to take your wedding photos, trust us!

Easter Boys.jpg
These guys have nothing to do with Camp Wandawega, but their portrait is hanging in one of the Camp's bathrooms, and I think it's just about the most epic camp photo I've ever seen. Great find Tereasa!

These guys have nothing to do with Camp Wandawega, but their portrait is hanging in one of the Camp's bathrooms, and I think it's just about the most epic camp photo I've ever seen. Great find Tereasa!

2017, book launch, books, copenhagen, denmark, scandinavia, Frama, Writing

First Look: Dialogues, A Book From Frama & Our Food Stories

I am very excited to introduce you to Dialogues - a book collaboration between Frama (Copenhagen design shop) and Our Food Stories (food blog) and a project unlike any other I have ever worked on (I acted as editor and creative consultant). Dialogues is full of recipes, architectural case studies, and insightful interviews with a wide range of fascinating thinkers and makers from a wide range of fields.

'This book is our way of celebrating a half-decade of personal relationships and creative dialogues. In three distinct conversational sections, Dialogues invites readers to consider how our natural and built environments become the spaces that define our context, how our food traditions can connect us with both the past and the future, and how a diversity of individual creative voices can come together to form a powerful chorus of inspiration for all those willing to listen. Featuring 6 architectural and design case studies, 14 interviews with craftspeople and innovators from around the world, and 19 new recipes from the team at our food stories, Dialogues is not simply a book about Frama. It’s not another book about design. In fact, Dialogues is not a book about any one particular theme, any single discipline, or any one overarching philosophy of life or art. Instead, this is a book about the value of creative exchange and the power of listening. With Dialogues, we invite you into this conversation' [text taken from the book jacket].

You can learn more about Frama here, Our Food Stories here, or pre-order your copy of Dialogues here (and get a free poster when you do!). 

More to come.

america, travels, The Americans, 2017, USA

The Mansion On The River | Charleston, South Carolina

"It was my father who called the city the Mansion on the River. He was talking about Charleston, South Carolina, and he was a native son, peacock proud of a town so pretty it makes your eyes ache with pleasure just to walk down its spellbinding, narrow streets. Charleston was my father's ministry, his hobbyhorse, his quiet obsession, and the great love of his life. His bloodstream lit up my own with a passion for the city that I've never lost nor ever will...

Because of its devotional, graceful attraction to food and gardens and architecture, Charleston stands for all the principles that make living well both a civic virtue and a standard. It is a rapturous, defining place to grow up. Everything I reveal to you now will be Charleston-shaped and Charleston-governed, and sometimes even Charleston-ruined. But it is my fault and not the city's that it came close to destroying me. Not everyone responds to beauty in the same way. Though Charleston can do much, it can't always improve on the strangeness of human behavior. But Charleston has a high tolerance for eccentricity and bemusement. There is a tastefulness in its gentility that comes from the knowledge that Charleston is a permanent dimple in the understated skyline, while the rest of us are only visitors."

Excerpted from South of Broad, by Pat Conroy, 2009, Doubleday books.

copenhagen, denmark, Interviews, scandinavia, travels, Writing

Hidden Copenhagen on The Snak Podcast

Not long ago, I was invited by the good people at The Snak podcast (a part of the family of podcasts) to talk about the process of researching and writing The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen.

My sprawling conversation with The Snak's host James Clasper was a lot of fun and is, I think, a pretty good introduction to some of the things that make Copenhagen such a fascinating city (especially for us outsiders). Highlights of the podcast include discussions of local breweries, the New Nordic food scene, the thrill of biking as an adult, and, of course, swimming naked in The Baltic Sea in winter. 

You can listen to the podcast here.

A bit about The Snak podcast:


More episodes of The Snak podcast here (English language).

Explore more Heartbeats Podcasts here (English and Danish language). 

2016, music mix, Best Of, Music

15 From 16 | New Music From The Old Year

I know, I know, this 'best of' list is REALLY late. Nonetheless, (in no particular order) here are the albums and artists that kept us singing along during a joyous and strange and anxious 2016.

Click the album artwork for video links from each artist.

2016, books, favorites, list, The Americans

2016 | The Year In Books

2016: oh what a year it was! And what could I say about this last year that hasn't already been said. But, despite everything else, this past year was a great year of challenging and inspiring reads.

With only two exceptions (Joan of Arc and The Nordic Theory of Everything), you'll notice the titles pictured below have a strong bend toward American history, culture, and characters - a trend that was not planned but that, in many ways, proved to be cathartic in a year so full of strange realities. Click on the titles to learn more (at or visit your local bookseller to pick up a copy.

Please share your favorite books of 2016 in the comments section below, we're always in search of our next favorite book!

2016, copenhagen, denmark, walkinthewoods

Our Own Little Advent | A Photo Series by Giulia Bellini

This past summer, just over a month before Owen was born, we were approached by the very talented, Copenhagen-based photographer Giulia Bellini about a pregnancy photo shoot. Admittedly, we were a little reluctant at first (you know how some pregnancy photo shoots can end up, yikes!) but we are absolutely thrilled at how Giulia's photos turned out - they are wild and authentic and absolutely capture that singular moment in our lives as we awaited the arrival of our little man. All photos were shot in Bernstorffsparken and the surrounding area. 

All photos by Giulia Bellini and are used here with her kind permission.

2016, america, art, The Americans

The Americans: Maynard Dixon (1875 – 1946)

Introducing The Americans

We are starting a new series on this blog called, The Americans. This ongoing series will feature the creative work of American writers, artists, photographers, or designers that we discover during the next several months, while we are back living in the US. Our first discovery for this series is the American painter and artist Maynard Dixon (1875 - 1946).

We discovered Dixon's work while browsing the permanent collection of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, but I think what drew us to him so strongly was the marriage of his striking graphic style (reminiscent of the French artist Henri Riviere and the Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler) with his profoundly American subject matter. The bulk of Dixon's work focused on the romance and grand scale of Western American landscapes and the people who braved to live there. Above and below, you can see samples of his paintings and of his work that was used for publications, posters, and book covers. 

Stay tuned for our next The Americans discovery, coming soon. You can learn more about the life and work of Maynard Dixon here.

Artist Maynard Dixon, late in his life.

Artist Maynard Dixon, late in his life.

Dixon in 1900.

Dixon in 1900.

Dixon with his second wife, Edith Hamlin.

Dixon with his second wife, Edith Hamlin.

2016, america, books, list, favorites

The American Experience, By The Book

America By The Book

Just in time for this week's presidential election, here’s a list of ten books that I think help to explain 'The American Experience.'

This is list of personal favorites and by no means an authoritative list - it varies widely in styles, genres, and publication dates, but what unites these stories is that each one captures a particular moment in time or singular voice that is distinctly American. Whether reading these stories as an American or as an outsider, each one communicates a powerful spectrum of perspectives. In these books are truths that are not always pleasant, convenient, or easy to swallow - but they are important because they remind us how far we have come and how far we still have to go as a nation.

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Huck Finn.jpg

This classic book is a serious morality tale wrapped in the guise of a downriver adventure. At the very heart of Huck Finn is the title character’s struggle to reconcile the mainstream racism of his generation with the basic truths of humanity coming of age in his heart. Why is this essential Americana? Because, in Huck Finn Twain holds up a mirror to American hypocrisy and takes on the great sin of the history of The United States (slavery) without (miraculously!) coming off as preachy. 

2. Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between The World.jpg

This may very well be the most important book of 2015 / 2016. Written ostensibly as a letter to his teenage son, Between the World and Me is author Ta-Nehisi Coates’ powerful memoir of growing up as a black man in America. This slim book is a hard-hitting, deeply personal, non-fiction read, full of blunt condemnations of a system that has, for centuries, marginalized millions of African Americans. This book will change the way you see the African American experience.

3. Beach Music by Pat Conroy

In early 2016, America lost a literary lion when Pat Conroy passed away suddenly. Better known for the best sellers The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides, Beach Music is an essential American story because it is a love letter to the golden age of American post WWII prosperity. The language of this sprawling, Southern family saga is poetry posing as prose, and contained within the book’s pages is a colorful cast of American characters who display the great diaspora of the nation and the family units that make up it’s people.

4. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

For those of you wondering how in the world Donald Trump could appeal to such a significant portion of the American populace, there are plenty of clues in this book. Another recent, best selling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy tells the story of a young man coming to age in the industrial ‘Rust Belt’ of America, part of the shrinking culture of blue collar working class whites. Vance’s book tells the story of growing up in a volatile home, a dying town, and as a part of a threatened way of life. This is a timely and touching that helps to shatter the prejudice that comes with stereotyping others.

5. On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Everybody has heard of On The Road, but many less have actually read this groundbreaking 1957 novel. An icon of the Beat generation, On The Road blurs the lines between memoir and fiction, documenting a group of friends traveling on a wild jazz- and sex- and drugged-fueled road trip across America. Once controversial, now considered a classic, this book is a celebration of freedom, of driving the roads of America, of youth, and of the universal quest to find meaning.

6. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

Travels with Charley.jpg

Like On The Road, Travels with Charley is the story of an ambitious road trip that criss crosses the vast American nation. Unlike On The Road, Charley features no illicit drugs or sex, but, instead, the observations and insights of author John Steinbeck as he drives along the highways and byways of the good ole USA with his standard poodle Charley. After writing fiction about the American experience for decades (East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath), this book is Steinbeck’s non-fiction(ish) account of what it was like to hit the road and reengage with the people and country he loved so well.

7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

This Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a sweet, hilarious, and challenging; the fictional story of Oscar De León, a chubby, comic book obsessed Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey. Featuring several styles, several narrators, and quite a bit of ‘Spanglish,’ Diaz’s novel is part immigrant memoir, part magical realism, and part coming of age story. In reading this book, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get illuminating glimpses into what it means to grow up in one place, but to also ‘be from’ somewhere else.

8. A Good Man is Hard To Find by Flannery O’Connor

This collection of stories by Flannery O’Connor’s is absolutely perfect. Each of the book’s ten tales thrusts the reader into a scene populated by characters so real, so Southern, so utterly American, that it’s hard to believe it was published over 70 years ago. At times contemplative, at other times brutally violent - this book portrays an American South haunted by racial inequality and possessed by strange and incongruous religious spirits. A Good Man Is Hard To Find deserves to be read and reread.

9. One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

Best known for his travel books recounting his travels in the US, Britain, Australia, and along the Appalachian Trail, author Bill Bryson has spent much of his life on the move. But, in the this book, Bryson settles in one particular moment in America’s history: that eventful summer of 1927 when Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, Babe Ruth hit 60 homeruns, Sacco and Vanzetti went on trial, and The Jazz Singer became the first ‘talking’ motion picture. Far more than a collection of facts, One Summer is a fascinating and humorous snapshot of America during one of it’s most adventurous, most innovative, and most prosperous periods.

10. Beloved by Toni Morrison

A masterpiece of American fiction, Beloved is a story of slavery and freedom. It is a story of a mother and her daughter. It is also, both figuratively and literally, a ghost story. Described by The New York Times as “one of the best works of American fiction from 1981 to 2006,” Beloved received the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and was later adapted into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey. When asked why Morrison had chosen to write Beloved, the author replied that because, “there [existed] no suitable memorial or plaque or wreath or wall [honoring the millions of Africans brought to America as slaves]...this book had to.”

2016, copenhagen, denmark, Summer

Introducing Owen Atlas Sailsbury

This past summer was the start of an all new, life shaking adventure - a realignment of the universe in which our lives will now orbit this new little man: Owen Atlas Sailsbury. The whole summer season now seems like a total blur, a whirlwind of newness and sleeplessness and visitors with gifts and long Danish days spent by the seaside, marveling at this strange, squirming, priceless treasure that somehow tumbled into our lives. We are so thankful that our friend Rochelle Coote was there to document Owen's first few days on planet Earth. He already seems so different. We just can't wait to see who this little Wayfarer will become. Stay tuned. 


2016, Writing, Kinfolk, Camp, Summer

Our Indian Summers | Reflections on Camp for Kinfolk Magazine

But of all the memories from all my years at camp, there is one that stands alone in its clarity and sacredness, one memory that lives with me as a moment of truest perfection. Because it is a ghost of happiness past, it can never be destroyed or undone—it stands like a lighthouse of my childhood.

Our Indian Summers | Reflections on Camp for Kinfolk Magazine

When our parents dropped us off at summer camp, they saw the rows of wooden cabins and the smiling staff; they saw the oak trees arching over the gravel road that led down to the lake and the beat-up camp trucks; they saw the piles of trunks packed with bug spray and swim goggles. They saw campers running every which way chasing footballs, Frisbees, and Gypsy, the faithful camp retriever. They saw the ever-present tribe of girl campers braiding each other’s hair and whispering secrets and shooing away spies who tried to interfere. Then there was always the tinny sound of cheerful music playing over the PA, the brightly colored flags hanging overhead, and the general atmosphere of a backwoods carnival. To them this was, basically, camp. 

When our parents dropped us off at camp they saw a well-oiled machine: people, property, and programs all working together in the spirit of clean-cut American optimism. What they didn’t see, at least not directly, was the magic that came to life as soon as the last minivan or station wagon left the camp gates—the kind of magic that only comes to life in a place where there are cliffs to jump from, campfires to gather around, and tribal ceremonies to perform. The kind of magic that only happens when moms and dads are absent. They too might have experienced the camp magic when they were children—and maybe even longed to experience it once again—but they could not. They were adults now and had to buy insurance and pay for something called a mortgage. When our parents dropped us off, they saw the face and shook the hand of camp, but it was only us kids felt its heartbeat and saw it come fully alive under long days of sunshine and the cloudless cerulean sky of our youth.

For those of us who went to camp year after year, summer was the nucleus around which the whole calendar circled. We believed camp was the best place on Earth (or anywhere else for that matter)—our own private Neverland. Except for video games, camp had everything we could ever want in life: tree houses and ball fields, a lake full of boats, bows and arrows and rifles, card tricks, and unlimited peanut butter sandwiches. 

At camp we didn’t have to wear shoes, but we wore bliss and we wore mischief. 

There in the woods beside the lake, we found a place of profound simplicity, but also of expansive imagination. We were happy castaways who evolved into something perhaps less civilized but substantially more alive than what we were back in the suburbs. There, on a hill named for an Indian chief, we succeeded and failed in the arenas of competition. We bestowed nicknames upon one another. We broke things and built things. We idolized our counselors, those elder statesmen of outdoor do-goodery. We tried our hands at chivalry. We dressed as pirates and spoke in codes. We played the part of little brothers and big sisters and, if we could find the courage, the bravest of us even dared to dance with a member of the opposite sex.

But of all the memories from all my years at camp, there is one that stands alone in its clarity and sacredness, one memory that lives with me as a moment of truest perfection. Because it is a ghost of happiness past, it can never be destroyed or undone—it stands like a lighthouse of my childhood, casting a searchlight over other foggy and darker memories. Even today if I close my eyes the scene materializes immediately and I can see it—I see us, sitting there near the cold lake, gathered around a roaring fire. I can see Rudy and B. Rob and Chris Minor and “Scharr Daddy” and all the boys sitting on railroad ties, weaving tall tales. I see their freckles and well-beaten tennis shoes, their sunburned skin, and the fire reflected in their eyes. I can hear us teasing Rudy. I can hear him tease us back. I can see the fiery dust flying upward each time we stir the coals and I can see kids drawing hieroglyphs in the sand at their feet. I can smell the smoke and seared sugar of lost marshmallows. I can smell that singular “lake smell” drifting over the camp road. How many hours did we sit there? 

How many times did we gather and spin the yarn of our own mythology, our own greatness? How much did we laugh at each other’s clumsiness and our own lame jokes? I can see us then: both innocent and mean, fearless and terrified. 

We sat together around that campfire first as little boys and then as adolescents and then as young men. Like a pilgrimage to the holy forest was summer camp; like a counsel of mighty chieftains were we around the campfire. There in the immortality of memory live the finest moments of my youth, spent with the greatest friends I’ve ever known. 

The kids back at home, who never went to camp, never understood us—not the inside jokes or the camp legends or the songs. They didn’t understand the value of the “Best All-Around Athlete” ribbons that hung on our walls or why we treasured the hand-written letters that came from old counselors and cabin-mates. Mostly, our friends back home were shocked that we would choose to live for a month without air-conditioning. Camp was an enigma to outsiders and we liked it that way. For kids from the suburbs, camp was our Narnia—once experienced it needed no explanation—but you had to step through the wardrobe to “get it.” There we met fantastic characters, set out upon great adventures, and always came home a bit wiser and braver and taller than when we had left. 

Whatever it cost our parents to send us to camp all those years, it was worth it. Their investments have paid us back with the immeasurable richness of a lifetime of golden summer memories that burn warmly through all seasons.

Reprinted with kind permission of Kinfolk Magazine.

copenhagen, music, Interviews

The Song of The Weatherman | An Interview with Gregory Alan Isakov

All photos by Seth Nicolas

All photos by Seth Nicolas

October 31, 2014. Copenhagen, Denmark.

‘John Steinbeck would have been the best damn songwriter.’ It’s Halloween night and it’s only just warm enough to sit outside at Copenhagen’s Nameless Bar. I’m trying to get American songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov to talk about his creative process; how it is that certain ideas grow into songs and then how those songs come together as a record. But asking songwriters to describe their craft is almost always elusive, and, in the case of Isakov, the process seems to be a kind of continually evolving mystery - even to the artist himself. Isakov is sincere, he seems to truly wonder at the whole process of songwriting. And this is probably why our conversation keeps drifting away from songwriting and toward more tangible subject matter: traveling, friends back home, the sheep and honeybees on Greg’s farm, and eventually, John Steinbeck.

I meet up with Isakov in the midst of his nineteen-date European tour, where he’s playing smaller venues than he’s used to back in the US. But these intimate shows are selling out. I ask Greg, who lives on a hippie-commune-turned-working-farm in rural Colorado when he’s not touring, if he’s ever surprised to see audiences in places as far away as Sweden or The Netherlands singing along to his songs. ‘Oh yeah, it surprises me every single night. Whenever you make a record, you create this thing and then you send it out into the world, but you have no idea how people will receive it. You just hope it will connect.’

Isakov’s most recent album, The Weatherman, was released independently in 2013 to widespread acclaim. And by all accounts, The Weatherman is Isakov’s most complete record to date: thirteen songs richly woven with impressionist lyrics, lush instrumentation, pastoral restraint, and an overall tone of hope. ‘To me, the idea of a weatherman is really powerful,’ Isakov explains, ‘there’s a guy on television or on the radio telling us the future, and nobody cares. It’s this daily mundane miracle, and I think the songs I chose are about noticing the beauty in normal, everyday life.’ Replete with both earthbound and cosmological imagery, The Weatherman is a transportive record. But, as with all of Isakov’s music, the latest record still leaves, ‘plenty of space for the listener to dream.’

When we finally settle into to talking about the craft of songwriting, here’s what Greg had to say about his process, recording The Weatherman, getting over his ‘lost album,’ the unending search for ‘home,’ and, of course, Taylor Swift.

AS: Where does a Gregory Alan Isakov song come from?

GAI: ‘Man, [smiles] where does any art come from...where does a painting come from? Somewhere along the way a seed gets planted, and then I just try to get out of the way and let the song come to life - to let the idea run it’s course. A lot of the process is about identifying and then channeling the right feeling into a song. If a new song is any good, then it won’t go away; but sometimes I have to back off for a while and then come back to it. The whole process is pretty organic, and you certainly can’t force it. For example, ‘Second Chances’ (from The Weatherman) was a song that never seemed to want to be finished. I recorded it, then re-recorded, had to leave it alone for a while, and then I’d start over. But, thirteen versions later, it finally came together - the arrangement, the players, and that specific feeling I was trying to channel. But it was a serious labor of love.’

AS: Creating a cohesive album seems important to you. Can you talk about that?the

GAI: ‘That’s true. Both as an artist and a listener, I love it when a record has a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think it allows the music to tell a better story. I’ve always kind of seen albums as songwriters’ gifts to the world. That’s why whenever I start recording, I try to be completely present in the process. When I’m making a record, I bleed into it. In fact, before we recorded The Weatherman, I wrote and recorded an entirely different album of songs but when it was finished, I just wasn’t satisfied. So, I destroyed those tapes and started over again.’

AS: : Do you think anyone will ever hear those ‘lost songs?’

GAI: ‘I don’t know, it’s hard to say. Maybe. But, it was like I had to get that other batch of songs out of the way in order to make room for this other album - the songs that would eventually become The Weatherman.’

AS: : NPR Music called The Weatherman ‘a rambler’s folksy manifesto.’ How does travel inspire you?

GAI: ‘Usually my songs come about with a kind of life of their own. I don’t ever set out to write a song about California or Holland, per se. But yeah, places are in there a lot. I actually wrote most of the songs for The Weatherman while on a previous tour in Europe. So, at that time, I was encountering a lot of new people and places on the road while simultaneously thinking about people and places back home. And, in a way, most of my songs are about people longing for something or someone that feels like ‘home’ to them. They’re all songs about searching.’

AS: If you could relocate someplace for an extended period of time for the sole purpose of writing songs in a new environment, where would you go?

GAI: ‘England, I think, or Scotland maybe - I’d love to settled down in some stone village that’s surrounded by green hills. Some forgotten place. I’ve been to the UK several times and I’m always surprised by it. There’s such a long tradition of songwriting and storytelling there, a lot of great folk music from Britain that I listen to.’

AS: : Are there records that never get old for you, no matter how many times you listen to them?

GAI: ‘When we were kids we listened to a lot of Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Drake, and Leonard Cohen, specifically The Songs of Leonard Cohen. And those records are still inspiring to me. More recently, Beck’s Sea Change and Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad have had a big influence (oh, and of course, every record that Taylor Swift puts out). You know, people will say that ‘every song on Tom Joad sounds the same - that it’s monotonous,’ but I like that about it - it has a continuity of feeling that draws you into it. In my opinion, that’s what makes it so timeless.’

AS: What’s a dream collaboration for you?

GAI: ‘It would be amazing to work with [producer] Glyn Johns. He’s done everything, produced everybody: Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, Band of Horses. I’d also love to work with Jolie Holland (of The Be Good Tanyas) - her voice is just perfect.’

AS: Any new projects on the horizon?

GAI: ‘Yeah, actually, I’ve been quietly at work on some low-fi rock songs. Exclusively with the electric guitar, just playing around in my kitchen. But the electric guitar is such an amazing tool - it’s fairly new to me, but it’s addictive. I’ve also been working with Brandi Carlile on a straight-ahead country record. Who knows if either will ever see the light of day or not but they’re both a lot of fun so far. I think it’s important to always be open to what could be; you have to dream, experiment, try things out.’

This interview originally appeared in Cold North Magazine. All photos by Seth Nicolas. Special thanks to Gregory Alan Isakov, his new album Gregory Alan Isakov With The Colorado Symphony is available now. 

copenhagen, denmark, scandinavia, 2016

Oh, What A Night! | Hidden Copenhagen Launch at Paper Collective

Last week's Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen book and poster launch was an incredible event - great big thanks to everyone who helped make it happen: Paper Collective Design Gallery, Ølsnedkeren (my goodness, their beers!), Malbeck Winebar, Rochelle Coote Photography, Lanterne Rouge, Luster Books, the ladies of Scandinavia Standard, Mr. Nick Scriven, and the whole team at Paper Collective - Lill, Morten, and Malene. Thanks to you all. 

The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen book is now available for purchase directly from the author (that's me!) in my new web shop.

All photos by the talented Rochelle Coote.

books, copenhagen, events

Hidden Copenhagen Book Launch At Paper Collective Design Gallery

Hidden Copenhagen Book & Poster Launch

Friends, YOU'RE INVITED to join me this Thursday, May 19 at Paper Collective, one of Copenhagen's very best gallery spaces (Kompagnistræde 29, 1208 København K), for a special evening of books, craft beer, Italian wine, and hidden Copenhagen trivia (and prizes!).

Come around for a drink, some good vibes, and to see the reveal of Paper Collective's brand new 'Copenhagen' poster series. The event is free and will take place from 17:00 - 19:00.

More details on the Facebook event page.

The Paper Collective Design Gallery at Kompagnistræde 29, 1208 København K.

The Paper Collective Design Gallery at Kompagnistræde 29, 1208 København K.

books, copenhagen, denmark, book launch

Hidden Copenhagen Book Launch

Oh, what a night! Last Wednesday's official launch of The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen at Books & Company in Hellerup was an absolute delight. Copenhagen trivia, handsome prizes, craft wine from Vinhanen, craft beer from Mikkeller, and, surprise of surprises, the sun was even shining. 

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate the book launch. Thanks to Isabella and Hanne for playing host. Thanks to LUSTER Books for trusting me with this project. Thanks to Steve at Wooden Spoon for the delicious trivia prize donations, and special thanks to the indomitable Nick Scriven for all the lovely photos you see here.

The 500 Hidden Secrets of Copenhagen is now available at your local bookseller (support local shops - just ask them to order a copy for you), via, and for signed copies you can email

bavaria, travels, alps

The Haunting Church of Ramsau, Bavaria

On our recent ramble through Bavaria, one of our most unexpected discoveries was the lovely, haunting, and lovingly kept church in Ramsau, Germany, near the Königssee. As we explored the town, it's streams, bridges, and this charming little church, we had the village almost entirely to ourselves - which made the church and churchyard that much more charming...and haunting. 

austria, travels, design

Zaha Hadid's Otherworldly Nordpark Railway Stations, Innsbruck

'Shell and Shadow' in the Alps over Innsbruck

We only spent one day in Innsbruck, Austria on our way between Salzburg and Munich. But the highlight of our day in Innsburck (besides the struedel) was our slow motion journey up the city's stunning Nordpark Railway, designed in 2007 by architect Zaha Hadid (1950 - 2016).

The Nordpark Railway begins in the city center and then climbs into the mountains, stopping a three stations along the way before arriving at Hungerburg Station. The Funicular stations are made of concrete and Alpine green, sculpted glass. Here's how Ms. Hadid described the inspiration for and design of the Nordpark Stations:

"Two contrasting elements “Shell & Shadow” generate each station’s spatial quality. A lightweight organic roof structure floats on top of a concrete plinth. The artificial landscape functions as a relief in which various movements and circulations are inscribed. Looking at the Roof Shell’s fluid shapes and soft contours, one might be reminded on natural phenomena such as glacier movements." 

You can learn more about the Nordpark Railway and about Zaha Hadid at the architect's website.

Nordpark Railway Station at Street Level by Zaha Hadid. Photo via

Nordpark Railway Station at Street Level by Zaha Hadid. Photo via

Nordpark Railway Station interior by Zaha Hadid. Photo via

Nordpark Railway Station interior by Zaha Hadid. Photo via

Nordpark Railway Station interior by Zaha Hadid. Photo via

Nordpark Railway Station interior by Zaha Hadid. Photo via