Burger Records’ Music Scene Is In Big Trouble

Written by | July 21, 2020 3:27 am | No Comments

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Burger Records

Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard of Burger Records (Photo by Federico Medina)

 

The LA indie music scene is in crisis, every day there are new accusations of sexual misconduct, harassment, grooming of minors, even rape… you name it! After the Buttertones, plenty of other bands have been accused of similar misconduct on social media. These new Instagram accounts @exposing_la_musicians and @lured_by_burger_records have just been created to provide safe places for women to send their stories, and the stories are coming, basically accusing plenty of bands associated with Burger Records, numerous groups I have been familiar with during all these years:

The Pesos, The Creation Factory, Mystic Braves, Adult Books, the Grinns, Santoros, Mac Demarco, Ariel Pink, Beach Bums, the Frights, the Orwells, Cuco, Atlas Genius, SWMRS, No Parents, The Growlers, Burger Records crew, Lollipop Records crew… all have received accusations, and these are only the names I know! There are now lists circulating on social media (see below) accusing the who’s who of the LA scene of the worst.

The same stories are repeated over and over, it always starts with alcohol and sometimes drugs, and it always ends with grooming, groping, and sexual activities, often consensual but often with minors, and since alcohol is involved, nobody should be surprised by the ending.

The numerous accusations also include abusive relationships between young girls and upcoming frontmen, who think they have already achieved a rockstar status and are entitled to the lifestyle. A new story even involves The Regrettes’ Lydia Night who was dating SWMRS’s Joey Armstrong, Billie Joe’s son, when she was just 16. As it is the case for all these stories, she has exposed all the details and innuendos of their sexual relationship on social media, and as someone much older, it is something that I would not have imagined doing at a similar age.

I understand what these girls want to tell the world, but there are only two possibilities, either the activity which took place was illegal and they rather should talk to their lawyer. Or there was nothing illegal, but they felt nevertheless used and this is their only recourse. In Lydia’s case, she was 16 and he was 22, so the relationship was illegal in the US, but it would not have been the case in Europe. He was acting like a jerk, more interested by sex than her own persona and he was masturbating while watching her taking a shower? Welcome to reality… But if Ryan Adams has been canceled, he should be too!

Among all these stories there are nevertheless serious accusations of rape, and in this cases, justice should be served. In California, victims of sexual abuse generally have two years to file a civil suit against the perpetrator, but for minor victims, the time starts to run at the age of majority and allows eight years for the filing of a civil suit. If these girls were abused while minors, there is still time to file.

it looks like Burger Records’s music scene has been a big enabler of this rockstar lifestyle of drugs and sex and rock and roll while letting predators prey on young girls. But in this gigantic mess, it’s very difficult to know what’s true and what’s is not true, what is real sexual abuse and what is the story of a youg girl terribly disappointed after a sexual encounter with one of these budding mini rock stars. Life is rarely a Hollywood romantic comedy and most of these young girls have been used, but they were also drunk, and underage…

So what did Ariel Pink do? ‘He has kissed audience members without their consent/assaulted his partner on stage’ No Parents have disbanded, The Frights have apologized, SWMRS have posted some long respect-women-men-can-do-harm rant without addressing Night’s accusations and FIDLAR have basically deleted all their posts on Instagram and went completely silent without any explanation…

A few years ago, I used to go to Burgerama, Burger Records’ successful music festival in Orange County and I had always wondered why the fest had suddenly vanished after its 2015 edition headlined by Weezer, Black Lips, Ty Segall, Ariel Pink, and Fidlar. They also were the organizers of Burger Boogaloo at Oakland’s historic Mosswood Park, but I suppose that this one will be canceled too. Of course, when Burger Records started inviting Kim Fowley, people should have seen this coming.

There is a rapist in every band, they are all pedophiles, the world is crumbling all around us, and this is definitively the end of an era, Burger Records’ music scene is in big trouble, people are asking for the dissolution of the label, but they have posted this long declaration announcing resignation and modifications:

 

STATEMENT FROM BURGER RECORDS

Dear Burger Community,

We understand that we will never be able to comprehend the trauma that women have experienced while trying to find a place in the music scene. We are profoundly saddened and sickened by the pain suffered at the hands of a toxic male music culture that does not value women as equals.

We extend our deepest apologies to anyone who has suffered irreparable harm from any experience that occurred in the Burger and indie/DIY music scene, the latter of which we take part. We are also deeply sorry for the role Burger has played in perpetuating a culture of toxic masculinity.

We are sorry that we did not actively monitor this behavior well enough to make the Burger music scene safer for you. You should never feel you have to sacrifice your personal space to be able to enjoy music, for your career or in pursuit of your art; you shouldn’t feel you have to choose between music and your comfort.

But words can only go so far in repairing any damage that has been created. It is the ability to put past behaviors under a microscope, and to fully listen to those who have suffered as a result of such behaviors, in order to be able to truly make meaningful changes so that not only do those behaviors no longer occur, but real positive change can be made to meet the moment.

It is with this in mind that we have decided to make major structural changes to the label and create and implement active policy measures to address the culture that allowed such harm to occur.

To begin, Burger Records co-founder Sean Bohrman will move into a transitional role with the label. Label co-founder Lee Rickard will immediately step down from his role as label president, and fully divest all interest in the label. Jessa Zapor-Gray will assume the role of interim label president. Jessa comes to Burger with extensive experience in the music industry and an extensive familiarity with the Burger catalog. We look forward to having her take the helm at the label.

In the spirit of change, here are the other actions we will be taking moving forward:

To create a clear delineation between the old and the new Burger Records, the label will become BRGR RECS. Furthermore, we will be adding an all-woman imprint to the label, BRGRRRL, which will serve to give many more women artists a platform and support for growth as musicians.

BRGR will be instating a standard artist agreement, something we did not previously do. This will include clear statements regarding unlawful and predatory behavior. By doing so, we will create a clear path to restorative justice against predators in the future.

BRGR will also begin working with experts in trauma and sexual assault awareness and consent education.

BRGR will set up a counseling fund to help pay for counseling services for those who suffered such trauma while engaging in the Burger scene.

The Burger Records shop, which is not a part of Burger Records, will no longer have any affiliation to the label and will change its name. The shop will also no longer host in-store performances of any kind.

BRGR sanctioned events will have a dedicated safe space for women to enjoy music without fear of invasion to their personal space.

An educated member of the community will be present at all BRGR sanctioned shows over 1000 attendees.

BRGR sanctioned all-ages shows will have a dedicated safe space for those under the age of 18.

BRGR will provide ongoing education and training to artists, management, and venues we work with on sensitivity and the effects of trauma.

BRGR will evaluate the whole of the existing label catalog and artists therein, discontinuing the distribution of artists according to our zero-tolerance policy.

BRGR will work with women in the industry, artists, and fans to create further actionable goals for educating our bands and the music community on recognizing abusive or predatory behavior.

We thank you for coming forward and for your courage to speak up, and want you to know that we are committed to doing real work to improve the culture of BRGR RECS and the indie music scene for all of us.

We want to be leaders in the industry and a model for other labels to effect real, lasting change.

 

 

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