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Japanese festival The Labyrinth loses line-up artists over founder’s controversial trans remarks

Surgeon, Timnah Sommerfeldt, Carsten Jost and Imaginary Softwoods have cancelled performances at next month's edition

  • Henry Cooper
  • 13 September 2023
Japanese festival The Labyrinth loses line-up artists over founder’s controversial trans remarks

Dial Records co-founder David Lieske aka Carsten Jost was uninvited from Japanese festival The Labyrinth after criticising founder Russell ‘Monk’ Moench's remarks on trans issues online.

In recent months, Moench took to X (formerly Twitter) to voice his contentious views on gender, pronouns and trans rights.

Before making his account private and ultimately deleting it, he wrote "The pronoun people are dumb" and condemned the term TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) as “pure misogynistic hate speech."

In response to the situation, Surgeon, Timnah Sommerfeldt, Carsten Jost and Imaginary Softwoods all took to Instagram to announce the cancellation of their performances at the Japanese techno festival.

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On 30 August, Moench, who oversees the festival’s bookings, emailed nine artists set to perform at the festival. Allegedly, in the email, he labelled the trans rights movement as "deeply illiberal and totalitarian," describing it as "profoundly misogynistic and homophobic" and saying it to be "at the centre of the biggest medical malpractice scandal of the generation."

In addition, Moench voiced support for "detransitioners" and youth gender-affirming care, which he referred to as "gay transversion therapy."

He stated, "They're taking vulnerable kids who would mostly grow up to be happy gay men and lesbian women and turning them into lifelong pharmaceutical patients."

In a private email to Moench obtained by Groove, Jost replied, “Everything you write here is, of course, completely borderline conspiracy theory internet garbage.”

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After going back and forth via email, Moench replied “It is impossible for me to host an artist who has such negative feelings towards me personally. It completely contradicts the individual spirit of the event. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the music or your presence, unfortunately.”

In a now-expired Instagram story, Jost publicly announced, "For opposing the transphobic views of The Labyrinth's founder Russ Moench, I have been asked not to perform at the festival this year (by Russ)."

Jost mentioned to Resident Advisor that after “responding critically” to the email, he was disinvited from the event.

He said, "We owe respect and protection to those who have paved the way for what the underground techno scene is today, which is to a large extent due to a community of queer and trans people of colour."

"I believe in trans-inclusive intersectional feminism and that the underground music scene must continue to be a safe space for queer, trans and gender non-conforming people," adds Jost.

Read this next: The Guest List: Kim Anh's 10 tracks that exude the 'Power of Pride'

Mindgames, the parent company of The Labyrinth, released a statement on their values.

[via: RA & Groove]

Henry Cooper is a Writer at Mixmag Asia. Follow him on Instagram.

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