Setting The Record Straight

As a black woman in the industry trying to contribute something positive, it truly feels shitty to have someone claiming they want to protect you take advantage of your vulnerability, and hold it against you.

Its been a while since I’ve updated the blog, but here we are. If anything, you guys can always count on me to share my thoughts via this blog regarding things in the music industry that affect me directly. I’ve been transparent about my past experiences and have decided to do so today, to a certain extent. I’ve bit my tongue in a lot of “Techno Twitter” conversations this summer, but this was something I could not let slide, so hear me out if you will.

While I think these DM conversations and accusations are valid, let’s not treat the man behind the FB threads, Michael James as some hero. He has bad-mouthed me in FB posts, called me a “fake journalist girl,” and most recently leaked private information from a brief conversation I had with him back in February without my permission. Being that he was playing the role of someone genuinely concerned about women’s safety, I confided in him. What I got in return was him posting screenshots of parts of our conversation online. This act was extremely hurtful and done in response to me not coming forward publicly with the private information I shared with him. He did not share our entire conversation, but it’s clear he intended to make me look bad. After reading this, I will not be surprised if he chooses to air our entire conversation. I’ll state right now that that is totally against my wishes, but I don’t expect much else from a person who thrives on shaming people to make himself feel important and look like a savior.

He’s attempted to make a mockery out of my career as a DJ and Journalist simply because I didn’t come forward when he wanted me to. As someone subjected to sexual harassment in a professional setting, I now feel even more ashamed about the entire experience. I also feel like a fool for sharing it with Michael James, thinking I could trust him. The private information from our conversation should have been shared by ME when I was ready, not by him, to help speed up his DM investigation. He was never wholeheartedly concerned about my well-being; his concern was my story giving his accusations some traction. I became disposable once I was no longer useful to him. 

Interestingly enough, in his latest attempt to “expose” me, he no longer referred to me as a “fake journalist.” His argument for posting our private conversation online is that it was my “responsibility” as a journalist to come forward with MY EXPERIENCE. He also attempted to place blame on the publication I was freelancing for the day of the incident for not sharing the information. Again, this was MY experience to share. I’m comfortable with how the publication handled the situation. None of this information is Michael James’ business; neither is it a “cover-up” on our part as he is suggesting. It’s appalling that a man who is aware of an uncomfortable position I was faced with as a woman in the industry would make things EVEN MORE uncomfortable and unsafe by doing this to me. Going as far as making comments like “I’m the leader she wished she was.” If this behavior in itself isn’t an attack on a woman, I don’t know what is. It sucks to see people applauding his tactics because I was not okay with him sharing my story or our conversation whatsoever. 

As many of you know, being a woman in the music industry can be shitty at times. Coming forward regarding sexual harassment or abuse is not easy, and not something all victims are willing to do. Yes, there is somewhat of a reckoning happening regarding sexual assault and abuse, but that doesn’t mean we force victims to come forward, or victim-blame them if they don’t. And honestly, the treatment I received from Michael James is another reason women keep quiet; it’s like either way you lose. I’m subject to ridicule if I share my story, yet I’m also subject to it for not coming forward. It’s all just so disheartening. Again, the DM conversations are necessary, but I don’t think someone like Michael James is fit to be the leader of the #metoo movement in techno. I would much rather hear from the multiple women he says he’s in contact with. The allegations against DM are serious, yet it’s troubling to me that the main person we’ve heard from thus far is Michael James- a man who is openly bitter about not being credited on DM’s Strings of Life track. 

From my initial finding out who Michael James was, I’ve seen him bad mouth numerous people involved in Detroit Techno, going as far as taking a picture of Submerge, posting it online, and making nasty comments about its appearance. He also slut shamed and harassed a woman online who was affiliated with DM, again, because she didn’t do what Michal James wanted her to do. Despicable behavior if you ask me. He also was swift to start sending me screenshots from other private conversations he’s had with people, trying to slander them; it all felt very gossipy. Honestly, a few minutes into our conversation, I was overwhelmed and realized that was probably not the best person to be speaking with; he was even suggesting things to me like chatting with a reporter who he claimed was working on a story. He was too overzealous about all of this way to quickly, and it didn’t feel right.

Contrary to what he said in his FB post about me, I did NOT suggest we talk on the phone; he offered up his number and told me to call him. It’s obvious he’s upset I decided not to. He wanted me at the forefront of these allegations and applied pressure- unsuccessfully. To make himself feel better about it, he decided to shame a black woman for the world to see. I think it’s very upsetting that this is the person championing this conversation when he has consistently displayed questionable behavior—even going as far as bringing my sister into the discussion, who has nothing to do with it. This is NOT okay. 

Another lie he stated was that I might even be interested in being signed to Transmat. Why on earth would I be thinking about that when I have close friends who own successful labels like NDATL, Sistrum, and Uzuri Recordings? And that’s only a few; I don’t need to name drop for clout. The point is, stop speaking lies on my name when you don’t have your facts straight. I’m a grown-ass woman, and I’m not with men talking recklessly about me EVER. Find out who I’m truly affiliated with since you’re so interested. For the record, I have NO affiliation with that label or the man in question. If Michael is the “investigative journalist” he claims to be he should know that already.

It was not easy for me to share even this much, but one thing I’m not going to do is let someone like Michael James lie on me or try to make a fool out of me. I’m an intelligent woman with massive respect in the community, and regardless of what happens, I know the majority will stick with me. I am deeply disturbed and saddened by the allegations against Derrick May and hope that truth will continue to come to light. Violence against women is never okay, and I hope these conversations will bring much-needed attention to ugly aspects of the music industry and women’s treatment. Yes, I spoke out on the Erik Morillo situation; it was very triggering, but not for a moment did that mean I had to share my experience as a woman in the industry relating to sexual harassment or assault. 

I’ve learned over the past few years; there are no icons and heroes in this music shit for me anymore; I’ve been let down a lot. Michael James is also not a hero, regardless of if some of his stories are credible. I regret ever speaking with him, and I hope he doesn’t do this to any of the other women he says he’s been talking with. As a black woman in the industry trying to contribute something positive, it truly feels shitty to have someone claiming they want to protect you take advantage of your vulnerability, and hold it against you. It’s trendy to say “protect black women” these days, but are you actually doing it? 

As always, I hold my head high, knowing who I am and that none of these fools out here can break me. Respect and protect women at all costs; we deserve so much better. 


Author: Ash Lauryn

Ash Lauryn is a DJ, Writer, and Radio Host from Detroit, currently based in Atlanta.

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