Electronic music is finally having its #metoo moment. But we need a binding code of conduct to make the scene a safer place
Last year, the death of Erick Morillo triggered what felt like electronic music’s #metoo moment. The stories of sexual assault and sexual harassment that emerged in the wake of Morillo’s death, joining the sexual battery charge that he had been due to face court for, revealed that Morillo had been attacking women for as long as he’d been spinning records — and getting away with it.
For many survivors, Morillo’s sudden death cheated them of the opportunity to see any kind of justice served. But their brave testimonies encouraged others to start talking about their own experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the dance music scene. Before long it was obvious that we were dealing with an epidemic; that a plague of predators has been abusing women in the community for decades.
Techno artist Derrick May was the next major star to be outed as an alleged abuser, with multiple accounts pointing to a pattern of sexual assault and sexual harassment spanning around thirty years. Unlike Morillo, however, May is alive. The question now is: what, if any, price will he pay for his alleged crimes?
Last year, when rumours of May’s alleged abuses began to swirl, major events including Paris Electronic Week and FAC51 The Haçienda removed him from their lineups. Following the publication of the second May investigation for Resident Advisor this year, Awakenings was the first major promoter to take him off the bill at their planned September festival, and in March, Club 69 in Paisley, Scotland, announced that they were cancelling May’s upcoming gig “in light of the recent allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment against Derrick May.” But beyond that, the reaction from the electronic music industry has felt strangely muted. On January 16th of this year, New Jersey club Barcode hosted a Detroit Love party headlined by Carl Craig and Derrick May despite the recent publication of two articles in Resident Advisor and DJ Mag detailing May’s alleged sexual harassment and sexual assaults. Hardly any of May’s peers have publicly condemned his behaviour, either, with techno star Rebekah one of few notable exceptions.