Earlier this year, a judge ruled against Kesha in her case against her abuser Luckasz Gottwald (Dr. Luke), a record producer for Sony.
Kesha, a pop singer and songwriter, signed with Dr. Luke when she was 18 years old. In October 2014, she came forward about her experiences of abuse and filed a civil suit against him, hoping to end her working relationship with Dr. Luke and to be released from her contract with Sony . However, the judge’s decision means that Kesha will have to continue to work with her abuser’s record label if she wishes to continue with her music career.
We interviewed Adam Bryan who is organizing #StandWithKesha, a fundraiser for SACHA and Halton Women’s Place.
How did you react to Sony forcing Kesha to work with Dr. Luke?
It was really unnerving to hear that Kesha was denied the opportunity to get out of her recording contract with Sony and Dr. Luke. The pictures of her crying in the courtroom are what really did it for me. She just wants something so simple, to not have to work with her abuser, but even the opportunity they presented to still work and record, Dr. Luke still has final say on everything she releases. If being a victim of sexual abuse didn’t already make her feel trapped, this situation just feels like she’s becoming an even bigger victim. I think the decision was totally unfair.
What inspired you to organize the fundraiser?
I woke up one morning after seeing how fans organized to project the hashtag “#FreeKesha” onto the Sony Headquarters and thought “you know what, that is actually really cool. All the people speaking out for her are really cool. It’d be awesome if someone organized a fundraiser for organizations that support survivors of sexual assault and women who are survivors of abuse.” Then I posted the idea on Facebook, without even thinking I would be the one organizing the event, and all of a sudden I get dozens of “like” notifications and a venue being offered to me.
How does music fit into sexual violence and creating conversations about consent for you?
I think that music is one of the best creative outlets for people telling their stories. You see a lot of these issues like sexual abuse being brought up and starting a conversation now in songs like Lady GaGa’s “Til It Happens to You” or Demi Lovato’s “Warrior”. People aren’t so afraid to tell their stories anymore, and it’s really beneficial for survivors because even these celebrities can relate to what they’ve been through. It’s kind of like what we (Red Pants Productions) did in the 2014 Hamilton and Toronto Fringe Festivals with our show Behind Closed Doors. Writing songs that people can relate to.
How does music help you heal?
Music is definitely great for the healing process, even if it isn’t a song that seems to be related to what’s going on. I remember actually being in a bad place myself a couple years ago and it was “Die Young” by Kesha that helped me out of it. People write off pop stars all the time and say certain songs can be so meaningless, but that exact song can mean so much to someone and motivate them to carry on and be the reason they’re still here. I had the opportunity to meet Kesha back in 2013 and I told her about that, she started crying, gave me a hug, and told me I was so brave.
How do you think high profile cases like this influence broader conversations about sexual assault and consent?
It starts the conversation, and that’s great. One of the reasons why I wanted to have this event is to keep the conversation going. There have been so many survivors coming forward saying that Kesha inspired them to share their stories. The negative reaction to the ruling and having high profile names like Adele, Lady GaGa, and Taylor Swift share their support is just amazing. Maybe due to all the backlash, future claims of sexual abuse won’t be taken so lightly, maybe survivors have a better chance at being believed or finding justice. We’re not just creating conversations with this about sexual assault and consent, we’re creating a community.
No One Asks for It! (A day where folks wear purple to support survivors and end victim blaming.) is also May 6th. How do #StandWithKesha and #NoOneAsksForIt intersect?
I think Stand with Kesha intersects quite well with No One Asks for It! Both have the purpose of supporting survivors and carry such an important message. I definitely would like to encourage people to wear purple to our event and create even more of a conversation and continue to show their support for survivors. Because of Kesha’s sexual image, this legal battle does seem to show off a dark side in some people and has some people saying “well if she didn’t portray herself in that way, maybe this wouldn’t have happened to her.” It’s disgusting to think that way. Sometimes the reasons that survivors tend to be more sexualized is because they want to reclaim their sexuality, because it feels like someone else has stolen their sexuality from them. If more people can realize this and we can spread the word that victim blaming is not okay, that would be amazing. I hope both these events can do that.
When: Friday, May 6th
Where: The Steel Lounge – 197 King William Street across from Theatre Aquarius, Hamilton ON
Time: Doors open at 8pm
Cost: Suggested donation of $10. All proceeds go to SACHA and Halton Women’s Place. Advance tickets available online!