Elin Blom, the Stolkholm-based singer and performer known as FELIN was inspired to write her latest song "Dear Boys" after the rise of Trump. “With the U.S. election and the rise of the far-right in Sweden, you have to speak up now more than ever," she says in a statement to the press. But she explains that wasn't the first time she addressed feminism and gender roles in song. "Women’s rights and equality have always been important to me. My songs, even from when I was 8 or 9 years old were about that.”
“What is masculinity?" Blom asks. "Who defines gender norms? The song 'Dear Boys' is a letter to today's men as well as future generations. I hope that parents teach their sons that vulnerability is natural and something beautiful for both men and women, so that we can have a future that’s secure for everyone, inclusive and nonjudgmental, where prejudices are erased, stereotypes are crushed and everyone's uniqueness will be celebrated."
Blom recently sat down with Out Traveler, and her interview is below. But first, the music video for "Dear Boys":
You identify as sexually fluid?
Yes. And I’m lucky that my parents have always been very liberal and I remember growing up that they never spoke in terms like “when you’re older and have a boyfriend” but instead said “when you’re older and have a partner,” so to me I have always felt that my options were open and that there was no shame either way and I hope that was the case for everyone. I feel like my attraction is about the person, their personality, their ambition, and so many other things that is so hard to pin-point. Love is love, and you should have the freedom to love whoever you want. Right now, I live with my boyfriend, who I love, and who is also working together with me and who is a big part of creating the visual identity for FELIN.
You moved from Finland to Stockholm. Was that for the music scene, the LGBTQ+ community, or something else?
I moved to Stockholm at 16, for multiple reasons I would say. A big part of it was music of course, I’ve always had a passion for that since an early age, and started my first band at 11. Growing up in a small village has it advantages and disadvantages. One advantage was that we could rehearse in my parents basement and play as loud as we wanted. But other than that I felt like my options were limited for what I could do and how far I could take my music career if I would have stayed there. I've always had a longing to move to a bigger city and Stockholm is one of the music capitals of the world, so as soon as I was done with school I moved here. Another big part of why I wanted to move was because I never really felt that I fit in and was bullied in school, both for my ambition in music and the way I dressed.
Some Nordic countries seem to have freer societal norms around gender than America — do you feel that's accurate?
I think the Nordics have come very far in equality, even if there’s a long way to go still. In Sweden it’s very normal for dads to go on parental leave and you see dads strolling around with their kids all the time, that’s not something you see as often abroad. In Finland right now our prime minister is a woman and all the other parties in the government coalition were until recently also led by women. In the bigger cities and among my friends I feel like being queer is something completely natural that no one even thinks twice about and I have friends who identify as nonbinary and male friends who wear dresses. I think everyone should wear exactly what they feel beautiful in, that’s no one else’s business. But I know that in smaller cities or villages it’s still an issue. In the village I grew up in there are still no men who have come out as openly gay and only a couple women who live their live openly with another woman. My belief is that it’s not because there aren’t anyone who’s queer there, I think it’s because of the societal norms there and how being gay can still be used as an insult there or seen as something that’s not right, people who are queer decide to move away or if they stay live their life in secret. It makes me so sad and I hope this will change for the better, sooner rather than later. Love is always love.
What is the best thing about Stockholm?
I love Stockholm’s closeness to the water, in the summertime you can go swimming literally in any part of the city or take a boat out to the archipelago. And in the winter we even have a small skiing slope right in the middle of the city. And I love how Stockholm is a very international city but still is very cozy and have a familiar feel about it. I think it’s easy to feel at home here.
Do you have a favorite queer place to hang out (when not in lockdown)?
Oh it feels so long since I was able to go to a club or bar, I do miss that so much! Bars and clubs were my favorite places to hang out at before the pandemic. I worked a lot as a DJ and playing music you love while dancing on tables and at the same time get to meet new people was one of my favorite things to do. I don’t have a particular queer place that I used to hang out at, I feel like most clubs in Stockholm are very queer friendly and/or have certain nights that are especially dedicated to that. Stockholm is one of the most queer friendly places in the world I would say and Pride week here is magical, the whole city is basically a big party.