A few days ago, it was announced that the partnership between Goldenvoice and the FYF fest had ended after a few good 6 years and the amazing growth of the LA festival. No reason was given, but it seems that we now have an answer to this mystery.
Spin magazine has the scoop. In a long exposé published on Wednesday, they reveal the sexual misconduct of Sean Carlson, the FYF fest founder. Who would have thought? I once met Carlson briefly during a Ceremony show at Eagle Rock Center for the Arts, it was a long time ago, years before the success of his festival, and the show had a very DYI look with a pile of amps barely fastened to the wall, threatening to fall down at any moment during the rowdy hardcore show. Carlson was there and he let me freely wander on the side of the stage where I was safer. I just remember this story about him, but it turns out he has a story with women, and not a nice one.
In the Spin article, four women are detailing their encounters with Carlson, and it’s not pretty: they are accusing him of sexual misconduct and assault during a series of incidents which happened between 2010 and 2015. Basically Carlson grabbed the women, tried to kissed them, even tried to rape them when they were trapped in the bathroom, and even made one of them kiss his penis. These are serious allegations, backed up by other people and even acknowledged by Carlson himself, although he partly denies some of them. He sent this email to Spin:
‘Incident 4 is true. Incident 3 is generally true, but I did not follow the individual into a bathroom. My conduct in both of these incidents was inexcusable.
The descriptions in Incidents 1 and 2 both contain serious misstatements and omissions. However, on both occasions I acted inappropriately and shamefully, and deeply regret my actions.
I am genuinely, unequivocally sorry. I lay fault at no one’s feet but my own. I am ashamed by how I acted and feel terrible for the pain that I have caused. Actions speak louder than words.
In December 2015, my years of recklessness and selfishness hit a breaking point; I had to make a promise to family and friends that I would change, or risk finally exhausting what remained of their compassion and support. I gave up alcohol for good, I embraced therapy, and I asked, sincerely, that my family and friends forgive me. Nevertheless, these corrective actions do not excuse my reprehensible conduct, and are small solace to those whose pain I am so sorry to have caused.’
As someone said, he seems to suddenly apologize because he got caught, but probably wouldn’t have said anything if these women hadn’t come forward. Another person, who worked with Carlson from 2006 to 2010, decided it was over when he witnessed Carlson’s reckless behavior during a party:
‘Sean rolled up to the party and was just like, groping girls… y’know, grabbing their asses and just being super aggressive. It seemed like he was kind of joking around at first, but then they’d say, ‘No, stop that,’ and he would just keep doing it. That was the thing I saw in person, and I was like, okay, I’m out.’
How did Carlson get away with this for so long? A lot of people knew about his behavior, described as ‘an open secret’ in the LA music scene…
At the top of the women who have spoken to Spin, I have found these statements on Facebook, so I barely imagine how many stories do exist:
‘Finally, this piece of shit has been outed as the scumbag he’s always been,’ wrote someone on Facebook.’ Sean Carlson was violating women friends of mine back in ’05/’06 as soon as he came on the scene. I recall hearing the disgusting stories of him either groping, making unwanted advances, or outright sexually assaulting friends of mine from the San Pedro/Anaheim/L.A. DIY scenes. He was a known predator among our group and we would try to tell others within our reach to be aware and protect themselves. While watching his celebrity and success rise in L.A., it was also a way to smear his name as much as possible, I suppose. It always frustrated me that despite his sleaze-bag fame he was allowed to catapult his brand without question. I guess it’s the same story as the rest of the falling celebrities right now; it’s a lot harder to take one down when they have the allegiance of so many starry-eyed, selfish pawns trying to be in the kool klub, ready to dismiss what’s obvious, and ultimately, wrong. Or else, protecting their own ill-made investments in a creep while not having the guts to take a loss for the greater good. Kudos to the brave women who went out on a limb to get this out there. This shit has been going on for far too long.’
‘I am so glad this is finally out. When I was 21, Sean followed me into a bathroom at a venue where I was interning at the time and blocked the door, saying he wouldn’t let me go unless I blew him “for like 5 seconds”. This was after a full evening of harassment, groping and generally inappropriate statements about my body, that didn’t stop even when I broke down crying.
It’s a sad reality, because we were all a fan of what Sean built. For some of us he, and FYF, were tantamount to being a young person in LA. But that’s what makes it even worse, that someone can be loved so much, by so many, and use that to exploit others. For years now I’ve watched this person celebrated while his destructive conduct was brushed away, and it’s hurt.
Now, Sean, it’s time to step aside so all the other hard-working and talented DIY music promoters who don’t use their position for intimidation, aggression or straight-up assault to come to the front.
And for the record, it’s also a little ironic that he utilized a “follow into a bathroom” harassment technique (on, apparently, everyone). Because what belongs in a bathroom more than an actual piece of shit.’
If it has been going on for so long, how did this guy manage to be the music entrepreneur du jour when the FYF fest was barely a thing? Why didn’t any woman talk earlier? Just because they were all afraid to not get a photo pass? The guy was friends with Keith Morris for god’s sake, and many musicians of the LA area, don’t tell me any of them didn’t know!
I guess the FYF Fest as we know it is over, and this is very sad. Carlson was the tastemaker behind it and it may not be called FYF fest if it still exists. One thing is certain, even though Goldenvoice is not talking, the split which was announced a few days ago, cannot be a coincidence.
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