About ten months ago I left the music industry due to the bullying and misogyny I was dealt with by both men and women in the biz. I am sure you all read the DJ Mag and Elle articles detailing this. Still at this present time I am dealing with smear campaigns from those around the artist in question and a whole lot of silence. Silence from people I respected and should know better. But then, this is not a surprise, this has been going on for four years now.
Since my coming out post Weinstein, it is clear we have a serious problem in underground music with abuse and bullying, particularly of women. And after that, professional and social ruining as a preemptive strike. It’s not only me that this has happened to, which is why I am writing this manifesto. Ashtart, formally of Radar Radio spoke out, also Pxssy Palace, the four other women who wrote their testimonies alongside me in DJ Mag, as well as many women on the Victoria Derbyshire show in October last year. In Sweden an open letter was written to the music industry detailing abuse in their scene and signed by all the women concerned. That letter had a testimony from every women in the industry. In fact nearly all women in music have complained about this in one way or another. America has had its own issues with Datsik and Russell Simmons etc. This isn’t just a few, this is many. This is huge. If it was just me you might be able to shoot this down, but it isn’t just me by a long shot. It’s time to nip this in the bud.
Before MeToo I thought I would be unlucky if I ran into a guy with these archaic views, I accepted that there are a few predatory men out there, just like there are some crappy females, and that my colleagues would warn me about them. But that’s not the case, there are, disappointingly and frighteningly, more predatory men than I ever thought, and they are protected by the boys club. You can’t do fuck all about it if you accidentally run into one of these guys, and generally you have no warning, there is no Weinstein whisper campaign in place. People won’t call it out because they are too scared or they actually engage in similar actions themselves.
If music is about unity and bringing people together this is fucked up. Do we want no women to come to the dance, or to produce music, or DJ, or take photos, or to run events, or to just love music? It seems they are only allowed to remain in some circles if they accept these actions and stay silent, or turn a blind eye (or join in) to the abuse of other women, in exchange for remaining in the scene. I can’t count the number of ladies that have stabbed me in the back or swerved any questions on this issue. Femmes need to be supportive of each other at this time, but there isn't a lot of that in music. Some do, but it's a minority.
I also hear a lot of men shouting innocent until proven guilty, but if this is the case then women need that privilege too in the first instance. If a man in power tries to ruin them or destroy their reputation (a very common occurrence) then nobody wants to hear the female side of the story, you are out with no comeback, and this shit needs to be changed. Women need innocent until proven guilty too, its only fair. In fact economic and social retaliation from male hearsay seems part of the course with misogyny and prevents victims from speaking out. I don’t see how that is right, there is no equality at all. If someone complained about racism or homophobia we wouldn’t be ignoring that or shutting it down. We wouldn’t be blaming the victim or affecting their social and economic standing. So why isn’t it the same for misogyny? Why are these guys still allowed to play or work in this industry? Ten Walls and Mistabishi were immediately ousted for their views. And that was just their views (which were completely unacceptable), they weren't physically abusing homosexuals or people of colour to our knowledge. But abuse of women in this scene is hushed up, not talked about, not reported, victims are ousted. It is these actions that allow misogyny to thrive, I mean this happens everywhere but it seems very prevalent in the arts where your reputation is everything.
Misogyny and the abuse of women IS just as bad as homophobia and racism (and we still have an issue with both of those in this industry too). If women are treated differently by men due to their gender and they are disrespected, not valued, looked down on, and in some cases, objectified and then raped, abused, then that IS victimisation of a minority. If people turn a blind eye to it due to industry politics, or to remain in their position within the scene, then they are enabling this abuse and putting others in danger. Then when it’s eventually called out, they scatter, like Datsik. 'Oh we had no clue' when in reality, they do. Thats how Saville got away with it for so many years in the BBC. The fame and cult of personality with Saville allowed him to abuse many children within the BBC. It’s this dynamic in the music industry that allows women to work with men, who they trust, who pose a danger to them and therefore be abused by them. It’s easier to abuse someone who trusts you, who has opened up to you, who'a a fan of you, and that’s how predatory men work. Particularly if the man in question is an artist with a high standing in a scene, he’s protected by the silence. It is again, the same dynamic that ostracises victims, supports predators, and puts further women in danger. It’s some weird logic there, the question is really, do you want to protect and work with future Jimmy Saville’s? Because eventually it will come out. I certainly won’t, to be honest I’ve read too many horrid rape reports from other victims, where they bled for days from their anus after being assaulted to even consider it. Also women who have woken up underneath men completely naked, with no recollection of how they got there, experiencing extreme pain due to forced penetration. This shit is horrific. Oh yeah, and to add, you can’t blame a drug addiction for a guy raping women, he’s still a rapist. I can put up with a lot of bad behaviour, but I can't let the raping slide, I can't let the violence slide, I can't let the misogynistic bullying slide, and I won't.
So I am going to be the change I want in this industry. I am coming back into work with people who won’t let this stuff carry on and punish those who exhibit such behaviour. In ten years I have worked with lots of great guys and girls, and I am lucky, I’ve worked with some legends who have lived up to that label. But my good reputation wasn’t enough to stop me from being bullied out of a scene I shot for years, even when I was silent myself, the sign of a very effective narcissist smear campaign. Ultimately it was just never a safe place for me to work in, but nobody told me that. Not a single person warned me about anything. Not a single person supported me or my work fully afterwards. It was just silence...tumbleweed...they see it but they don’t call it out, it’s easier I guess to pretend it never happened and freeze out the victim. But if you turn away from that injustice, you are enabling that injustice. And this applies to any bullying in our scene. You are also abusing the victim by proxy, by not validating what happened to them for fear of your own reputation if any incidents occur (and of course they do, because, you were silent). I never expected to be gaslighted by a whole scene, but I was. My story is common, as many other victims have contacted me since I left. Again, this isn't just a single case, we have a huge problem.
To paraphrase Inja..’Your Importance Never Justifies Anything’ and Defected Records ‘In Our House We Are All Equal’. I want to work with people who give women in this industry proper equality. I want to work with people who value my contribution and wellbeing over their own self preservation in this scene. For my work in the future to have integrity I need those people. It might be the very few, but it’s better than working in scenes that have a questionable moral code. Quality over quantity always. Anyone that does work with me from here on in is effectively signing a charter, that they will never allow these horrors to happen. I will insist on that. With these terms I will be able to see clearly those who have a strong enough character to work with me, and who value and respect women as people, not objects. I will literally pour all my creative energy into them, and make their music look beautiful. You all know I'm a good photographer, imagine what I could create now, if I am working with people who I can truly believe in. Thats not saying I haven't over the years, I've had amazing experiences. But its the unfettered purity of what I do now, that I am really looking forward to.
This statement is well...a heavy one. I didn't want to write it, it's hard to read, but I have no other choice. It’s not fun to face the darkness in our scene. Its a slow and messy pus draining of a huge elephant in the room shaped boil. The ubiquitous power head figures in music have is so similar to Weinstein you can't ignore it anymore. I’m not going to avoid these issues anywhere else so I may as well try to do some good in music, something I care about. But I can't do it on my own, we have to do this, together, and not be silent in the face of such mistreatment and marginalisation. We have an incredible crew full of talent, that is known worldwide and respected worldwide. The reality of that crew needs to match the beauty of the music produced. The insane parties, the good times, the meeting new people, making new friends. Otherwise its totally emperors new clothes, and who the fuck wants to support a hollow, dishonest and frankly dangerous scene . This biz is something I loved so much that for 6 years I worked for free, travelling up to London from Brighton, whilst running a day job. I shot on film for the first year in Fabric in 2006...12 years ago now. Dammit, I sourced those films on the early internet and sneakily ran them through the developer early Sat AM, before I started work, with no sleep from the night before. I shouldn’t give up, and I won’t, I wanted to document music visually for future generations, as I was proud of it, less so now obviously. However, I am sure that pride will come back if we eradicate this behaviour as a team, unified through music.
This statement won’t make me Miss Popular, I’m fine with that, I mean literally fuck that noise. Too many people throw away their moral standing to be popular. But I strongly believe music is about bringing people together, and I will fight for it, because it's worth fighting for. Until we resolve these issues from the inside out, there is no unity, we are just as bad as Trump and his bigoted actions and attitudes towards minorities (also due to being a malignant narcissist, funny how these personality types tend to ruin and abuse) . We don't need more of those toxic views, we have enough in real life as it is, music is our escape from that, so lets make it better.
Thanks for reading,