In the past few days, a number of people have accused Burger Records, the California garage rock record store and label, of fostering a climate of sexual predation. Women have accused Burger founders Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard, as well as many artists tied to Burger Records, of preying on underage girls. Across the label’s enterprises, different men have been accused of rape, sexual assault, and a whole lot of other terrible things. Yesterday, Burger announced that it would attempt to undergo “major structural changes” — a process that included changing the name of the label to BRGR RECS and launching an all-women imprint called BRGRRRL. That won’t be happening. Instead, Burger Records is shutting down completely.
Last night, Oakland’s Total Trash Productions, promoters of the Burger-affiliated annual festival Burger Boogaloo, cut all ties with the label and announced that it would change the name of the festival. Meanwhile, Burger had initially announced that Lee Rickard was resigning as president of the label, while Sean Bohrman was moving into a “transitional role,” while Jessa Zapor-Gray would take over as president of the label. Late last night, Zapor-Grey put out a statement announcing that she’d learned she couldn’t continue to work with Burger after all:
In the last year and a half, I have worked with Burger and Burger artists on communications and partnerships on a contract basis.
Over the weekend I was asked to assume the role of the label’s interim president with the hope I could reform the label into something better for the good of all of you, the artists. My plan was to quickly begin assessing and evaluating if anything about the label could perhaps be salvaged and made into something better, then eventually hand off a functioning label to a future administration unrelated to the label’s founders; or if I found that rebuilding was not possible, instead to organize and prepare the label for closure.
When I was asked to take over in this capacity, I expected some blowback for my decision to accept but I believed that the opportunity to have a role in effecting real and lasting positive change within the Burger and indie music scenes was worth the risk.
Upon further review, I have informed Burger Records that I no longer believe I will be able to achieve my intended goals in assuming the leadership role at Burger in the current climate. Therefore, I have decided to step away from the label entirely to focus on my other projects.
Reached by Pitchfork, Bohrman wrote, “We decided to fold the label,” confirming that the BRGR RECS rebranding would not happen. When asked for further comment, Bohrman sent a video of Porky Pig saying, “That’s all, folks.”
Bohrman also said that Burger Records would remove all of its releases from streaming platforms, a process that has already begun. Bohrman further claims that the artists who recorded for Burger own their music, so they will be able to redistribute those records themselves. The Burger Records social-media pages have all gone dark.