Insel: Robi Rütenberg’s Ever-Expanding Vocal Universe


Robi Rütenberg is quickly becoming one of Jacksonville’s standout artists with their hand in a variety of musical groups and genres. They play major creative roles in both baroque pop trio Four Families and the Little Books, an indie folk/rock duet. Rütenberg now embarks on an experimental solo project titled Insel which recently released their first EP, in the clearing. Rütenberg approaches their practice and music from a queer feminist perspective, which has been shaped by life in the South.

“I’ve held on to it because sometimes things take time.”

The collection of four songs that comprises the in the clearing EP were recorded in 2014 and released in March of 2016. Commenting on the date of the release, Rütenberg explained, “I’ve held on to it because sometimes things take time.”

The EP is another great addition to Rütenberg’s growing catalogue of music. It begins with ‘Heavy,’ a quick reminder of the vast and ethereal nature of the artist’s voice. The EP is another extension of Rütenberg’s style. The beautiful and textured vocal harmonies teeter between a somber and happy narrative, which can be heard in songs such as ‘Vessels.’ Lush melodic guitars and resonating tom drums always seem to accompany the delicate vocals in Rütenberg’s music. They are tender and inviting; perfect for a stormy summer day in Florida.

insel.caccoonEU now premieres the music video for ‘Small Sun.’ Directed by Mark Hubbard, this languished ballad with melodeon-style synths, features Rütenberg and dancers Summer Wood (Tomboi, Four Families) and Robi’s partner, Staci Bu Shea. Throughout the video, Rütenberg is slowly encapsulated by a cocoon made of yarn, while Wood and Bu Shea dance in unison. The cocoon was created by Atlanta-based Femme Fiber Artist, Jillian Brandl, who Rütenberg met through the Girls Rock Camp.

Robi has also just returned from a spring tour in Europe and the U.S. with their other project, the Little Books, in support of fellow Jacksonville artist Radical Face. The band traveled to Europe in April, performing in Italy, Germany, and France, among other countries. They eventually made their back to the U.S. in May to hit the west coast and some major cities on the east, including New York, Philly, and Chicago. The Little Books is comprised of Rütenberg and Rick Colado, better known as rickoLus, who also helped Rütenberg record the in the clearing EP at The Green Shed studio in Jacksonville Beach.

Rütenberg has their hands full in the coming months with recording a full length album with the Little Books, recording another solo EP for Insel, and formulating the plans for a Florida tour as Insel with Chasing Jonah in October. This is definitely a Jacksonville native you should not take your eyes off of, and one you can expect more from in the near future. The in the clearing EP is available to download for FREE at

About Ricardo Maldonado