All posts by rutelliotblomqvist

Environmental justice anger

It’s hard to find an outlet for everything that I get to think about when I’m doing research for my thesis, my songs, or for other things I write. I’ve decided to write a bit about art and my research here. Maybe someone else will find it helpful or interesting too.

So, I’m writing a PhD thesis on the connection between art and culture and environmental justice.

When I started my PhD two years ago, I had this ambitious idea about art as transforming society — about stories as an ethical “tool” which could make human beings moral actors in a complex global system. A kind of environmental justice cosmopolitanism. (That kind of cosmopolitanism is becoming quite popular in parts of the environmental movement, it seems to me. Literary scholar Ursula Heise is one of its proponents.)

But can those who are responsible for the present situation of environmental degradation and injustice really be trained to be moral actors through art? How likely is it that the strata of human society that is responsible for environmental destruction and human inequity is going to listen to the poetic, existential musings of artists and cultural critics? Why would bureaucracy be susceptible to such nuanced, quiet voices?

It seems to me that the ones who listen to objections to injustice and destruction, and who find Western ideas of the good life unsatisfactory, are already living on the outskirts of the society that is being questioned. It is as if being marginalised is a prerequisite for viewing life and society from that kind of critical perspective. In The Utopia of Rules, anthropologist David Graeber writes about “the lopsided imagination” and “interpretive labor”; about the way underprivileged people are forced to analyse and interpret social relations and structures in order to understand people who have control over them, while those with power over others only have to maintain their position by force and so never have to face any imaginative challenges. Graeber concludes that this leads to a specific kind of stupidity.

Because of the unimaginative, uncritical stupidity of privilege, it’s mostly people who are somehow marginalised within the Western cores of the modern world system or denied access to these territories through militarised border control who agree with objections to that society’s success story.

How many are we?

I don’t think the arts alone can “save the world” any longer, nor do I think cosmopolitanism can. Because people who have ended up pursuing power don’t give a fuck about objections to the unequal world system and they couldn’t care less that some depressed misfits feel that the lives that privileged Westerners are supposed to live are meaningless. Or rather, they probably don’t understand where people who dissent are even coming from. They might not even think we really exist. This makes me think that Argentinian literary scholar Walter Mignolo is on to something when he suggests that people live in different worlds, in different universes of value and meaning.

How can people be so different from each other? Whom should dissenters try to reach? How many people are enough like us to understand what we’re saying?

I’m writing about “us” — as if I’m writing only for those who already know what I mean. Who else would read my blog? Definitely not people who couldn’t care less about art.

Art. What is it about art — about language and melodies, colours and patterns — that connects the dots of the world (as Amanda Palmer writes in The Art of Asking) and renders reality visible? What is the feeling of seeing through to another dimension but one that is at the same time part and parcel of this life here on earth?

I almost understand but then it slips away again — like Virginia Woolf’s “moment of being”, that short glimpse of a feeling.

It feels magical. “Magical thinking is what you need to get by” (“Det är det magiska tänkandet man behöver för att klara sig”), Joakim Berg sings in “Ett år utan sommar” (“A year without summer”). But the magical thinking that gives hope to the global upper class, the bullshit white-man’s-burden putative development apologetic of those who live off of inequity and environmental load displacement to other parts of the world, that kind of magic is the exact opposite of what anyone needs. One needs hope, but never that kind of hope.

I once said something to that effect in a seminar and got the response that it sounds like a kind of depressed outlook on life. But I’m not depressed – I’m angry, and I think we need much more anger in struggles for environmental justice. If environmental justice cosmopolitanism is about playing down conflicts and proposing reforms and compromises within existing institutions, environmental justice anger is about seeing that there is no way to negotiate or compromise with those who have already stolen everything from you, who have no interest in listening to you, who even think you don’t exist, and who may well threaten to kill you if you don’t comply with their demands.

The follow-up question then becomes: Is anger about violence? Maybe I’ll write about that (and Franz Fanon) sometime in the future.

The CDs have arrived


So many boxes. So many copies of the album. It feels odd, like I think I’m more important than I am.

Anyway, I will start sending out digital files and and physical albums as soon as I have my flat back after the current bathroom remodelling.

Release on April 7th in Gothenburg – more info will be posted here soon.


Hey, hey, hey… Here is a little album teaser! A couple of verses from The Voices in My Head:

Apart from my rhodes and vocals, this track features:
String arrangements: David Saulesco
String quartet: Charlotte Andersson, Emelie Molander, Maja Molander, Agnes Högberg
Backing vocals: Anna Pavia, Siri Holm, Judith Lysell, Eva-Linn Nordh

Produced by Rut Blomqvist and Eva-Linn Nordh
Mixed by Eva-Linn Nordh
Mastered by Marcus Göransson

Don’t forget to preorder the album through my Kickstarter

(c) Rut Blomqvist 2016

Very brief update about two cool things

The EP… turned into an album. Oops. Currently in the final stage of mixing and I’m trying to sort out printing arrangements and a Kickstarter campaign to cover those costs. Perhaps it will be done and launched and all of that before the end of this year. This is my plan. Whatever happens though it has become so much better than I could ever have imagined. It almost feels like I made it up and it’s all happened in my head.

I’m going to the UK on the 25th to present/perform a hybrid thingy (academic-artistic) at a conference in Lincoln. I will also at the very least play a few open mic nights in Cardiff, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow. But it seems I might do my performance from the conference in an extended, more music-focused version in Scotland as well.

That’s it for now. Hejdå!

Not really news

I’ve not released my EP yet, still working on the tracks and intend not to rush the process.

One important reason is that I have started working as a PhD candidate at the University of Gothenburg. It is part time but it’s been busy these first few months. I’m really happy about the position because, a.) I get to do research on art and societal transition, which is urgently needed and feels extremely important, and, b.) it’s like the closest you can get to basic income in today’s Sweden, I think; they give me a salary every month and basically tell me to do something important and they leave me alone to do that except when I need help and ask for it.

Music is still one of the most important things in my life though. I will not stop writing, playing, recording, touring … Not ever. I’m doing small-scale gigs (mostly solo) every now and then even though I’m trying not to plan for loads of shows right now.

I’ll post here again when I’ve got news on the EP.

Have a nice winter!

EP! (and tour…)

Hey there people!

I’ve finally booked a professional studio for my EP recordings. Yesyesyes! First proper band rehearsal will be this weekend. We’re doing drums and bass in June. After that, I’ll do piano somewhere – I’m looking for a good space with a grand piano. So that’s what’s going on!

Release is planned for September. I’ll post in Where’s Rut when I’ve set the date for the release party.

But between the recording sessions and the release, I’ve also got an exciting summer coming up. A European tour is in the making…

Gigs and studio project plans

Six months have passed since my last update. Bad blogging behaviour. Though posting just for the sake of posting is equally bad behaviour, in my (not so humble) opinion.

The main reason for the lack of updates is my commuting to music college. Leaves little time for administration. Until now; we have started working in Uni on tour booking, press kit, marketing, etc.

Tour booking?! Yes. I’ll soon be on tour in Sweden with a band consisting of me and two or three other musicians from my class. Check Where’s Rut in the next few weeks for details.

Apart from the tour, I’ve got two gigs at JAK members bank with my classmate Miguel Ganzo booked. They are for members of the cooperative bank, so if you’re one of those, you can look forward to a couple of amazing gigs. (If not, you’ll have to wait for the tour. And if you’re a UK resident, you’ll have to wait a bit longer still. I’ll come over as soon as possible! I miss you and your friendly ways.)

I’m also writing a lot, as always. Writer’s block? Don’t know what that is. This leads to a luxury problem – I don’t know what to do with all the material and creativity. I’ve got a couple of co-writing projects going, which is good.

But, more importantly, I’m finally working on a proper studio project. I’ve got a brilliantly creative and innovative musician friend who has agreed to be my co-producer for the project. We’re working on arrangement and basic production ideas and are getting a band together for rehearsals soon.

Oh, and I’ve applied for the doctoral program at Gothenburg Uni. English lit. Sf and fantasy and sustainability and transition. I’ll write more about that soon.

I got in! And other news.

A week ago I went to Gamleby Folkhögskola for my last audition. This is Gamleby Railway Station. You can barely see the sign. The platform is like 20 meters long and that’s it.


Anyway, I got in. Yay! And then, a few days later, I got the acceptance letter from the college I’ve been wanting to get in to the most – Löftadalen. Yay again!

So I needed to make up my mind. As always when you need to choose, there are benefits and drawbacks to every alternative. I refused to make a pro con list. I might have made one in my head though. Secretly. Shush! I eventually decided to go to Löftadalen and I’ve now paid the tiny symbolic registration fee. (There are no tuition fees in Sweden, unless you’re a non-EU citizen. For your information.)

Before the Gamleby and Löftadalen auditions, I had a gig in Gothenburg that I haven’t written about. It was at Dirty Records, a record store with a nice little café.


I daresay it was my best gig so far. I’m feeling more and more relaxed about it and that’s a good thing for me. Some people claim that nervousness is good, that you get focused. That’s not how it works for me. If I’m nervous, it’s because I honestly believe I’m shit, and I then perform accordingly – or at least feel that I did, even if everyone else thought it was good. If I’m exited and eager to play, I focus and sort of remain in the moment. That’s when I feel that I get, like, a connection with people in the audience, that I’m there and they are too and it becomes a meeting and something we share. Being nervous and anxious makes me insulated from others. That’s not the kind of performance I want to make. I want to be out there – not afraid of failure, but invested in making something that matters.

Now that the auditions and the booked gigs are done I can focus on recording again. The reason I haven’t updated my gig schedule on the website in a while is that I haven’t booked any more gigs for now. I’m making plans for an EP. More info coming soon …

I’m also considering artwork options. I want to make something meaningful, something that adds to the music. On my facebook, I’ve got pictures with the lyrics and some drawings, but my drawing skills only go so far and I think I need to involve some other people in this. I’ve got a couple of names in mind for the artwork. (Names of some talented friends, that is. Haven’t talked to them yet so don’t feel left out if you’re a talented friend of mine whom I haven’t asked. I will, certainly, ask you.)

This is how far my drawing skills go, by the way:

(Drawing session in a pub in Gamleby.)

On that topic, I’ll make sure to upload my artwork lyrics things to the website too. I wonder why I haven’t done that.

Oh, and by the way, my and Simon’s tomato and chilli plants and lettuce and herbs are happy and growing in the June sunshine. Look! (The stupid Spanish slugs ate most of our lettuce down here though. The flower box lettuce is happier.)


Imagine if life could be only music and tomatoes.

I’m imagining it. I’m going there, slowly. Which is nice.