Yesterday, Tumblr announced the lineup to their 79 Cents party at SXSW. The event takes its name from a 2014 report by the Institute For Women’s Policy Research that concluded that women in the US only make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. An array of female musicians including Empress Of, Jhené Aiko, Little Simz and Tacocat are all scheduled to play — alongside electro-punk duo Crystal Castles. In October 2014, Crystal Castles split up after frontwoman Alice Glass left the band, declaring that “sincerity, honesty and empathy for others is no longer possible in Crystal Castles”.
But in 2014, producer Ethan Kath reactivated the group with a new singer, Edith Frances. Subsequent comments from Kath undermined Glass’s decade-long contribution to the band, writing in a since-removed statement that she “didn’t appear on Crystal Castles’ best-known songs”. Glass offered a quick rebuttal on Twitter: “For the record, I wrote almost all of the lyrics in my former band and the vast majority of the vocal melodies. I was a founding member of Crystal Castles and shaped the sound and aesthetic from the very beginning. Manipulative statements about my contributions to the band only reinforce the decision I made to move on to other things.”
Speaking to The Verge about the Tumblr showcase yesterday, Glass said: “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.”
Tumblr has since removed Crystal Castles from the line-up and issued a statement. “We’ve removed Crystal Castles from the lineup of the 79 Cents party,” they wrote. “We don’t know the facts around comments made about a member of the band, and we’re not going to engage in an investigation around it. We’re hosting this event to highlight gender disparity issues, something that Tumblr and our community cares deeply about, and we don’t want the band’s presence to distract from this important mission.”
While Tumblr has made the right move, it’s still baffling that Crystal Castles were booked for a feminist showcase in the first place – a cursory Google search would’ve displayed dozens of news stories criticising the underhanded way that Kath has approached the revived project.
Crystal Castles, in their current guise, are planning on touring soon and releasing a new album in the spring. Glass recently released her first solo track, “Stillbirth”, which she said was inspired by an abusive relationship, with all proceeds going to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).