Saturday, 5 March 2016

Why I Agree With The Decision to Remove Crystal Castles from the 79 Cents Event

Two days ago, Tumblr announced details of their feminist-themed showcase, "79 Cents", at this years SXSW. Despite its heavy branding, the showcase sounded pretty cool except for one thing - Crystal Castles were not only on the line-up, they were set to headline the event.

People immediately questioned their involvment, while others seemed to think the problem was simply that Crystal Castles were the only band on the line-up to feature a male member, an assumption that is far from the truth. There are a few reasons why people were uncomfortable to see Crystal Castles on the bill, and Ethan Kath's gender was not one of them.

Alice Glass, who, along with Ethan, founded the band, announced that she was leaving Crystal Castles back in 2014, stating:
"My art and my self-expression in any form has always been an attempt towards sincerity, honesty, and empathy for others. For a multitude of reasons both professional and personal I no longer feel that this is possible within CC."
 Most of us assumed that was the end of the band but, almost a year later, Ethan released a new track called Frail, featuring a new vocalist, Edith Frances. Along with the track, Ethan released a statement in which he referred to Alice as his "former vocalist", and claiming she didn't actually appear on any of their best known songs or write any lyrics.

Alice responded to him on Twitter, calling Ethan's statements manipulative; Ethan late removed the majority of his statement from his SoundCloud page. Since then though, he has also made various Facebook posts trying to retcon his own band's origin - referring to pre-Alice songs, which pretty much contradicts anything that had been said about the band previously.

To accompany here first solo release, Stillbirth, Alice also released a lengthy statement explaining how the song was inspired by an abusive relationship:
"The clarity I've gained since getting out of that situation has opened up my life in a way that I didn't imagine was possible. Although some of the pain and anger still lingers, my life finally feels as though it has value and meaning. I speak out now hoping that I can encourage other young women and young men to affirm their value within their relationships or get out. Abuse isn't always obvious and it doesn't have to involve black eyes, blood and broken bones. Emotional and psychological abuse can be just as damaging, and it is extremely difficult to remove yourself from. Those that have known me thoughout my career might be surprised that someone who publicly gave the impression of being fearless and seemed as though they didn't take shit from anyone could find themselves being severely mistreated and manipulated by someone they were close to. This person nearly stripped me of myself. And for years I felt as though they were waiting for my life to end."
All of the money made from the song went to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). While Alice has never specified that this statement was referring to Ethan, it's telling that, especially given the comments Ethan made after Alice quit the band, that her first solo release refers to the negative effect someone had on her life. That, and the way Ethan went about replacing Alice in a way that implied both her and Edith are merely the puppets that front the music, are what led to many questioning their inclusion at this event; no one is saying that Crystal Castles should not be allowed to perform, just not at this, specifically feminist-focused, event. Even if Ethan isn't the inspiration behind Stillbirth, he has still gone out of his way to tell people that Crystal Castles' music is all about him, so as far as showcasing female talent, that doesn't sit well either; that's why, even if you ignore the abuse speculation, I have to agree with the decision to remove them from the bill.

Alice was asked for her thoughts, and said the following to The Verge:
"As someone who knew Ethan Kath on a personal and professional level, it is my opinion that he is not an appropriate artist to be performing at a feminism-centric event."
Crystal Castles have now been dropped from the line-up. Other bands currently on the line-up are Jhene Aiko, Tacocat, Little Simz and Empress Of.

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