Derrick May Dropped from Awakenings 2021 Lineup After More Sexual Misconduct Allegations Emerge

by | Feb 4, 2021 | Stories | 0 comments

Content warning: This article is about sexual assault

Derrick May, an artist often credited as one of the originators of Detroit techno, has been removed from the 2021 lineup for Dutch festival Awakenings.

The decision follows a Resident Advisor article by Annabel Ross citing six anonymous accounts, as well as one given on the record by DJ Paulette, alleging acts of sexual harassment and assault by May over a 25-year period. The piece followed one penned by Ross in November containing six separate allegations, some of which overlapped with those of a report written by Ellie Flynn for DJ Mag the previous day.

For nearly a year before the aforementioned articles were published, sports writer Michael James had accused May of varying degrees of sexual misconduct in near-daily Facebook posts. For many months, James’ allegations were largely brushed aside due to a longstanding royalty dispute between him and May over his contributions to May’s definitive 1987 single, “Strings of Life.”

Shortly after the September death of Erick Morillo, who was fighting a sexual battery case in Florida, James made a post comparing May to Morillo that drew more attention to his claims. May’s appearance at Paris Electronic Week was then called off by the event’s organizers “pending a clarification of the situation.” May also lost billings at TV Lounge and Paxahau‘s Movement Selects Vol. 1 live stream event in addition to having to resign from the MOCAD board of directors.

In an October appearance on Dutch podcast Bakkie Bakkie, Awakenings Founder Rocco Veenboer said he didn’t believe the allegations involving May. This week, however, Ross has said that Veenboer told her via direct message, “It’s really over for Derrick at our events.” Veenbooer has declined Selector‘s request for comment on why the Awakenings team has now chosen to distance the brand from May.

On Friday, a Michigan court hearing took place via Zoom as part of the proceedings for May’s lawsuit against James for defamation of character and invasion of privacy – false light. Because May was found by the court to be a public figure, Judge Edward Ewell ruled that he would have to pay a $10,000 bond for the first round of discovery to determine actual malice on the part of James. May and James are scheduled to appear for another court date on February 26th.

Selector encourages anyone with information regarding incidents of sexual misconduct in the electronic music industry to email with guaranteed confidentiality. 

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