PREMIERE: FELIN Celebrates Gender Non-Conformity in “Dear Boys” Video

Photo Credit: Fredrik Etoall.

Feminism often focuses on the pressures placed on women in society, but men face their own set of pressures as well, and these are very much connected to the oppression women face. Would we have such high rates of domestic abuse if men weren’t taught to express themselves through violence? Would the sexual assault epidemic be what it is if straight men were not taught to view women as conquests? And if men could be free from these constraints, how would the world look different?

Stockholm-based pop artist Elin Blom, known by her stage name FELIN, explores questions like these in her latest single “Dear Boys,” an open letter to men who commit violence and mistreat women. “Dear guys/did your parents treat you right?/or did they teach you not to cry?” she sings against deceptively upbeat drums and bass. The song is intentionally poppy with an edge and roughness to it. Written at an all female writing camp in Stockholm, it utilizes an all-female writing and production team.

With the single, Blom wanted to send her listeners the message that “it isn’t manly to be an asshole and not care about how you treat your children or care about how you treat women,” she says. “It isn’t manly to crack sexist jokes; that’s just rude behavior. It’s way more manly and brave to wear a dress no matter what your friends think, or to speak up against abuse or abusive and sexist language.”

In the video, premiering today via Audiofemme, she looks at the more positive side of the equation, celebrating people who don’t confirm to their gender roles with shots of actors exhibiting a variety of gender expressions and styles. In the beginning, she speaks out loud: “My heroes are those who dare to express who they are, fully, with no holding back. This is about those heroes; this is their moment.”

“It was important for us to find a mix of men in different ages, with different sexualities and backgrounds, to show that it’s okay to wear [whatever] and be whoever you want no matter what you do for work, where you come from, or where you live,” she tells Audiofemme.

Blom, who identifies as sexually fluid, was inspired in part to write the song after dozens of Polish towns declared themselves to be “LGBT-free zones” last year. She hopes she can help work toward a world where “vulnerability will be natural and something beautiful for both men and women” and “everyone’s uniqueness will be celebrated instead of being questioned.”

Her own upbringing, during which her dad stayed at home and her mom worked, also spawned her interest in this topic. “A lot of the women in my friend circle are scared of having kids because it changes the way society looks at you,” she says. “In society, there is an underlying pressure on women where they are somehow expected to be the main caregiver and are often asked questions like ‘how do you balance your career and having a family?’ When do men ever get asked that question?”

“Dear Boys” will appear on FELIN’s upcoming album Heroes & Villains (out this summer), which deals in different ways with various problems society faces and their potential solutions. The previously-released title track is a snappy rock-influenced jam dealing with gender roles, violence, and materialism, while the first single, “C19,” is a slow, dramatic ballad about the loneliness of quarantine life written and produced solely by Blom. The LP also includes “Vultures,” which speaks out against domestic abuse, “Wohoo,” which she describes as a “disguised doomsday song” about climate change, and “No More Sweet Home Alabama,” an anthem for bodily autonomy.

FELIN typically writes her songs on piano or guitar with the help of her writing partner John Strömberg, then gets the melody and lyrics down before producing them. Her album includes live drums, strings, guitar, and bass, along with synths and samples.

Blom started her first band at age 11 with three of her friends, and they went on to play shows around Finland and Russia, including some at rowdy bars where they couldn’t even legally drink. At age 16, she moved to Stockholm to pursue a career in music and ended up landing in the top six on Swedish Idol. After that, she wrote songs for other artists, including Adam Lambert, as her own musical project began to take form.

In addition to making her own music, Blom DJs at clubs, though COVID has prohibited her from doing that in recent times. Instead, she’s spent quarantine learning bass and doing TV and livestream shows as a bass player for other artists, as well as engaging in other creative projects like painting and writing short novels.

As songs like “Dear Boys” illustrate, she takes an activist approach to her work. “I know that my voice alone won’t change anything, but I feel like I need to do whatever I can to speak up and to take part in creating change,” she says. “I think people learn by example, and I think when you educate yourself and challenge prejudices you might have yourself, that’s when you can educate others.”

Follow FELIN on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

LIVE REVIEW: Atlas Genius @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Atlas Genius at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Just a month after the release of their second LP Inanimate Objects, Australian duo Atlas Genius, composed of brothers Keith (lead vocals, lead guitar) and Michael Jeffery (drums), got people moving at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg last night.

First openers Mainland were a fun group of NYC indie rockers, evidently young and still working out their stage presence. Brooklyn-based Dreamers followed soon after with a more seasoned sound and even catchier lyrics.  I’d easily peg Dreamers as a band to watch, and I can’t get their 90s pop-rockesque song “Waste My Night” out of my head.  Both bands got the energy up for the main event.

From the get-go in Atlas Genius’s set, for the majority of the synth and guitar-heavy songs, the vocals were being drowned out by the rest of the sounds.  Powerful harmonies in the song’s catchy choruses helped to carry the lead vocals out.

No less of a show was put on, however, as blinding strobe lights transported the crowd to the kind of dance club where you have room to flip your hair back and forth and wave your arms around like a madman.  It seemed as though everyone knew all the words from the very beginning, and Keith had no problem getting everyone to clap along to the beat to what seemed like every song.

Showcasing the band’s wide range of styles in their two-album repertoire,  songs like the bass-driven “Back Seat” and “Stockholm” were a little less indie pop and a little more rock show.  Contrarily, “Friendly Apes” and “Balladino” provided a nice slower change of pace without losing any energy.

Atlas Genius at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Most fun to watch wasn’t actually one of the brothers, but rather, Matt Fazzi on keys and rhythm guitar, clearly having the time of his life.  I also enjoyed watching a drunk fan wander on stage for their debut hit “Trojans,” only to be escorted off the stage by security.

The highlight of the night was a cover of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” giving the 80s synthpop hit a modern makeover. While the majority of the setlist was high-energy and danceable, the acoustic encore “Levitate” calmed things down and allowed Keith’s vocals to finally take center stage.

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