Singer-songwriter Larkin Grimm has accused Swans’ Michael Gira, who produced her 2008 album Parplar and released it on his Young God record label, of rape and sexual harassment. After first sharing the story of a “traumatic incidence of sexual harassment” by Thomas Sayers Ellis, the leader of her current band Heroes Are Gang Leaders, Grimm recounted her experience with Gira in a lengthy Facebook post, which you can read below. “My story with Michael Gira is an absolute tragedy that I have kept secret for too long,” she writes.
I will give you some history about why I am sharing the story about Thomas Sayers Ellis’s abusive behavior now. I didn’t always stand up for myself. Rape is a loaded word. No man wants to be a rapist. It implies cowardice as well as violence. It undermines the sexual power and magnetism that every man would like to have. No woman wants to be known as a rape victim, either. I want to be known for my strength, intelligence, and talent. Not known as a victim. My story with Michael Gira is an absolute tragedy that I have kept secret for too long. I am only speaking of it now because after being accused of “lynching” Thomas, I cannot ethically keep Michael’s secret any longer. He’s a white guy, and his crime was far worse than what Thomas did to me or Margaret.
Michael Gira and I had a beautiful, fruitful collaboration on my album Parplar. He was my record label boss and producer. He was my beloved, trusted mentor, really my guru. I lived in his house with him and his wife Siobhan and I babysat their daughter frequently in between working on new songs and incorporating Michael’s valuable input. I loved him more than I have loved just about anyone, but I did not want to have sex with him, and I made that very clear over and over. In the spring of 2008, on the night that we finished recording Parplar at Trout Recordings with Bryce Goggin, we went out to eat at a steakhouse. My friend Johnny Dido was our waiter. We were with Michael’s friends and they were drinking heavily and encouraging me to keep up with them. I’m a pretty lightweight drinker. At the end of the night it became obvious that I was too drunk to drive home, too drunk to even walk straight. Michael invited me to stay with his friends. They said they had a bed for me and that Michael would sleep on the floor. I trusted them and agreed.
At the apartment of Michael’s friends, I crawled into bed without changing my clothes or brushing my teeth. I just passed out. A little later Michael woke me up coughing. He had bad asthma, and sleeping on the floor in the dust was aggravating it. I told him, slurred, half asleep, that he could sleep in the bed, just not to touch me. A little bit later I woke up with his penis inside me, no condom. As I opened my eyes, he said, “Uh, this doesn’t feel right.” and he pulled out.
The next morning, Michael begged me not to tell his wife about what happened. I drove home, numb. Then I took my bike around the block and got hit by a car, injuring my hip. That day I wrote one of my best songs, “The Butcher, or Without a Body or a Numb and Useless Mind.” It was the last song I would be able to write for a few years. I spent the next 6 months in a suicidal depression. Michael would call frequently to talk about the progress on my record and to talk dirty to me. He would tell me he loved me and that he would leave his wife for me. I would refuse to talk dirty to him and try to bring the conversation back to business. When we met, the interactions were often sexually charged and I would squirm out of them as best I could. We never had sex again although he tried over and over, making me absolutely miserable. Mastering the record with Fred Kevorkian was particularly difficult. Michael took the opportunity to kiss me in the elevator, and I complied because I really, really, really wanted to be a successful musician. He’d often say to me, “I’m gonna make you a star, Larkin. You can trust me.”
I stuck with this pattern for a long time, through my record release and the tours (with Michael!!) supporting it, but when it came time to write a new record, I found my creativity was totally blocked. I told Michael that he had had sex with me against my will and that I didn’t feel safe with him any more. He then dropped me from Young God Records.
Many people have assumed, over the years, that Michael and I had a love affair, and in a way, for a time, maybe we did. But I never consented to having sex with him. I wouldn’t have wanted to ruin such an important opportunity that way. Technically, he raped me. It took me a long time to admit that to myself. Years. Michael Gira, my producer, raped me and dumped me from his label when I confronted him about it, needing to feel safe.
What happened was awful, but as a prison abolitionist, an anarchist, and a nice person I didn’t want to destroy his whole life with a rape charge. Looking back, he didn’t think twice about destroying mine.
Sending my love to #Kesha I know how you feel. At least I got out of my record deal, though I was never offered another one after that.
We have reached out to a representative for Michael Gira for comment.
UPDATE: Michael Gira has issued a response on Facebook, calling the allegations “a slanderous lie”:
re the horrible and untrue accusations from larkin grimm:
I am completely shocked myself. This is a slanderous lie. I will respond vigorously to defend my name against this horrible slur. I trust in the intelligence of those who have followed my work and respect me as a person, to know this is NOT the person I am. The rumor mill/”confessional” Facebook post travels like fire- but this one is lies. More soon. This is an utter nightmare. thank you for your support. please spread the word. this is lies!
UPDATE 2: Gira’s wife Jennifer has now defended him on Facebook, saying she has proof Grimm is lying — “anyone who bashed my husband or his music, when they see the proof- is going to feel like a complete fool.” Here’s what she wrote…
I was enjoying not being on FB precisely for the social media nightmare(s) I must rejoin to address now, due to a former musical “protege” on my husband Michael Gira’s record label has accused him of being a rapist……in 2008. As you may know, Michael dropped Larkin, and she has been jilted about it ever since. Larkin may know in the past, Michael has shuddered and simply deleted her harassing emails/texts, rambling obsessive tomes, declarations of unrequited love, hate speech, and threats to him. but, guess what sweetheart!- his wife is well aware—-and his wife, is rather analytical, organized, -and doesn’t put up with any bullshit. I have PROOF, in Larkin’s own hand, that her allegations of Michael raping her *did not happen.* I REPEAT It is false. (Larkin-you should have been much more careful whom you emailed/messaged/purged/”reached out” to in “heartfelt” way, etc etc, or in letting yourself use a computer, during what seems to have been from the illiad of messages sent to my husband that are c-r-a-z-y -suffering from a manic/bipolar or chemical relapse episode)That is unfortunate-for you. I have nothing but empathy for a person who has experienced assault. After all, *I* survived an extremely violent rape/kidnap attempt, which resulted in, (through my fighting hand to hand combat) in great injury to myself-but it saved my life. My entire life was affected. I was diagnosed with severe PTSD, panic disorder, and often have difficulty walking to my car in the Target parking lot after dark, sometimes bursting into tears. Do I like sharing such info on the internet? NO, but I feel at this juncture, I have no choice. I didn’t have any “artist love affair” (puh-leeze) -it was a complete stranger. Nevertheless, it causes me such pain-daily, there is a song on a new Swans album, Michael wrote for me- (that I sing myself) I have not even listened to the song more than once since its recording, It upsets me so much to even hear myself sing it. This was, a loving attempt from Michael Gira to help me heal from such a horrible event. I take great insult in you accusing my husband of something like I went through. (And I have the police report, injury records, doctors, therapies, witnesses, etc) This isn’t meant to be tit for tat, but, I hate liars. I hope people do share this post. -and I hope Larkin sees it, and I hope she is wrecked with nerves, because I repeat, I have *PROOF in her own hand* that what she wrote today is false about my husband. I am currently being muzzled (by atttorneys, managers, labels, and the like) but rest assured, the truth will come out. Larkin, you will publicly apologize, and face serious consequences. Please share. P.S anyone who bashed my husband or his music, when they see the proof- is going to feel like a complete fool.I hope you feel shame, and think about your actions. I am not negating a negative experience by a woman or man in a sexual context, or god forbid an assault on anyone, but it is SCARY AS HELL, that some mentally unbalanced (and admittedly so, *you’ll see that too, once I release what I have*) can just post on Facebook, and the entire internet music press runs the story as “fact” -Any musician or artist in the public eye (or not, really this concerns everyone) should be wary, VERY WARY p.s. “the boy who cried wolf” is a great allegory for the starfucker-in the end- nobody listened to either of them howl.
UPDATE 3: In a statement shared by his publicist, Gira maintains his innocence and details a “consensual romantic encounter” with Grimm. Read it here.