Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Internet Runs Out of News, Posts Girl's Blog Post (OR) Elizabeth Fey's Response to the Foxygen Shit Storm

A few years ago I lived the hardest six months of my life (so far) in Olympia, Washington and Elizabeth Fey was my only friend. I had moved from New York to Olympia to work as the head of publicity for K Records, and shortly after settling in Elizabeth came on as an intern. She and I became friendly right away, primarily because she was funny, warm, creative, and intelligent - but also because she wasn't an asshole, and the entire rest of the town was populated with big stinky ones. During our brief, but memorable time together at K Records, Elizabeth and I would exchange our war stories about the various ways we were being horrified and shit upon by the town's folk. I remember her telling me a story about going to a dance party at some hole in the wall bar there that Calvin Johnson was DJing, and how she spent her night trying to dance and have fun while a click of girls circled around her like wild dogs, making fun of her appearance, and of her dance moves. There are more stories. Stories about how she got up really early one morning to drive my best friend, who had come to visit me from California, to the airport, how she always stuck up for me, even when the entire town turned against me and was threatening to beat me up for not eating organic or recycling, and how she has tried to stay in touch, to this day, even though I'm basically just another asshole in her life who hasn't done much to deserve her kindness. 

A week or so ago Elizabeth shared a blog post with me that has now been hacked up and re-posted by Stereogum, Pigeons & Planes, Pitchfork, NME, Clash Music, Spin, Brooklyn Vegan, Paste, and I'm sure many more. I can't speak for what these other writers got out of her post, other than traffic hits and content that they didn't need to fart out of the fart factory that day, but what I got from her post is that it's hard to go from being a small town girl making music in her bedroom because she's good at it and it's what she loves doing, to being in a well known band with her boyfriend and having the other people involved in the band treat her like shit. That seems like a pretty normal thing to feel. That seems like a pretty normal thing to write about in a blog post. What isn't "normal" is reading someone's public thoughts on a private matter and thinking "well this girl is an attention seeking whore who is clearly trying to break up this brilliant band that no one gave a shit about a year ago." Don't get me wrong, Foxygen is a good band, but when the internet is freaking out about another new band, and no one is tip tapping away on their laptops about them anymore, or having Twitter fights about who in the band is fucking who, and why, Elizabeth Fey will be out there doing something okay and being okay. She was okay then when people were dicks to her, and she's okay now. What Elizabeth has taken away from this, and what we can all see as the moral of the story, is that the world will allow you to be a girl, a girl who makes music, a girl who makes music in a famous band, a girl who makes music in a famous band that her boyfriend is also in, or a girl who makes music in a famous band that her boyfriend is also in - resulting in problems sometimes, but you can't have it all. You can't be all of those things. Band or no band, what the internet (world) has been telling Elizabeth these past few weeks, and what it's been telling creative women since the beginning of time, is something along the lines of "shut up and look pretty." But Elizabeth isn't going to shut up, because like Yoko Ono, who she's been compared to recently, her big mouth is her biggest asset, and if it upsets you, that's your problem, not hers. 

I asked Elizabeth to write a response to the recent Foxygen shitstorm, and this is what she had to say:

"Last time I checked, writing about one’s personal experience on tour was an acceptable thing to do. I’ve had a Tumblr for three years that I update every other day documenting my life. It just so happens that this year my life became a little more public. I don't consider it "airing my dirty laundry." It's what writers do, they write about their life.  I felt the need to express myself and how I was treated in Foxygen because there was no accountability for anything and it annoyed me. It annoyed me to read everywhere that the lead singer Sam France is “crazy” a “drug addict” and an “asshole” when in reality none of those things are true. Illusion is the favorite tool of the media when it comes to painting a picture of something and how they would like it to look. My intentions were never to have my blog post on Pitchfork or Spin, I just wrote it on my Tumblr and I honestly thought those websites had other things to worry about. What bothers me the most is how my words were spun way out of context. Never once did I say that Foxygen was breaking up, I just confirmed what other people had already been writing, that there was tension on stage. I didn’t go straight to my keyboard after the shit hit the fan, after I found out all the mean things Rado had said about me, instead I sat around for four months and thought about it. I said goodbye to Sam as he left on the first tour without me in months and continued playing with my own band. Sam was upset that Rado still wouldn’t talk to me and asked him just one favor, to please, give me a call. Sam and I are musical partners too who live together so I felt like Rado was putting Sam in a really uncomfortable position by alienating his girlfriend.  I’m not perfect by any means. I can be loud and restless in my own band Meowtain but I really turned all of that off in Foxygen and played the part of the background vocalist/tambourine player/keyboard player.   

After receiving dozens of nasty anonymous messages via Tumblr and message boards I thought to myself, was what I said really that bad? I thought I had written how I felt in a respectful way and tried not to use words that really cut people to shreds. I reread what I posted and felt that it wasn’t as dramatic as the media had played it out to be. NOTHING I said was hateful. Most of it was about how I met Sam France, my experience going on tour to Europe and across the country for the first time and losing my best friend simultaneously. It’s easy for media sites to cut out one part of my blog post “We are starting a new band” and turn it into a story about how Foxygen is breaking up. I mean isn’t Rado starting a new band? His solo album is coming out in a few months. How about you focus on that when you say that Foxygen is breaking up. Foxygen was dysfunctional way before I joined the group.

 Comments I’ve received have been from I am a nasty cunt, a groupie, and desperate for attention. The bassist from Unknown Mortal Orchestra even chimed in his with thoughts telling me: “I’m gross and just want to tag along, that it’s a long ride to the top when your songs suck.” I never said I wanted to be at the top, I write music for myself, I don’t care if people think my songs are good. I was just expressing how I felt disrespected in Foxygen. I have played music with enough people to know when someone is disrespecting me or not and yes it did feel like sexism when Rado refused to let me play guitar on ONE song but has let Joe Hein play guitar on most songs on this current tour despite that he barely knows the songs and is just noodling.  Other people have said I am hiding behind “feminism” and using that to justify my “immature” behavior. I am not hiding behind anything, I am just putting my side out for people to read because everyone’s side of the story matters and most of the time people don’t know what really goes on behind closed doors. I’m not looking for attention, I’m speaking out for myself and for other people who have been ignored, walked over, and thrown to the side like a piece of trash. I don’t appreciate people telling me I must not love Sam France because of my blog post when Sam France doesn’t care about my blog post, he cares more about how badly I was treated. Maybe if they had been a little bit nicer or respectful to me I wouldn’t have had to write my feelings on the internet.  My blog post said nothing bad about Sam France, just about my feelings on Rado and Shaun, who I spent several months with in a van for countless hours. It was about how grueling it was to be in a band with so much hype and not much support from the members when I was going through a traumatic time. It’s not everyday your best friend drops dead at 23 from an asthma attack.

 Who is anyone to judge my character? They didn't walk in my body in my shoes and tour with a bunch of guys they barely knew. What is so wrong with posting ones feelings on the internet? It is actually a privilege that we live in a day and age where an average person can be heard because they can write something online. It was not for self promotion, it was for myself. it was because I FELT FUCKED OVER AND WANTED TO WRITE ABOUT IT. I DIDN'T KNOW THAT WAS SUCH A CRIME. What is childish AND selfish is Rado blaming one person for everything and never being able to talk to me about so his called problems with me like a man. Instead, bandmates threw it all on Sam France and expected him to deal with it. I was a part of the band for seven months and Rado never once could talk to me or have a back bone to tell me his own problems. That is childish. What is selfish is to expect the lead singer and the song writer of the band, Sam France, to be okay with Rados immature actions. Misogyny does have something to do with this because the backlash I am getting for expressing my annoyance with Rado has yielded people calling me a tag along desperate for attention groupie CUNT. Let me say, I was asked by Sam France to join the band and didn’t even know what it was before I met him. I am getting blamed for the so called problems in the band that were around before I even joined. Even if Foxygen does break up, it really shouldn’t have anything to do with me, I was just the tambourine player/back ground vocalist/sometimes keyboard player who was just there to add to the sound and support Sam. When I was on tour with them Sam was never climbing the rafters or hurting himself. Maybe Rado thought he never had to talk to me about anything because to him I was “nothing, no one special” someone he could just ignore and pretend didn’t exist. But I do exist. I met my boyfriend Sam France because I agreed to do the San Francisco video. If Rado used a little more tact, he could have tried to preserve whatever relationship we had for the sake of Sam France who is sadly in the middle of all this. I support him regardless but find it unfair how he has treated both of us. Is this the fear that society wants to generate? That if a woman writes about her experience about someone somewhat famous in a not completely positive light that she will just be called an attention-craving groupie? Just a dumb girl Sam sleeps with? If I really was that I would have been trying to social climb the whole time I was touring, but my mind would never work that way, I was there for the music. It’s always about the music."