Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman on sex assault and indie rock

Brooklyn musician Amber Coffman on her decision to go public with sexual assault allegations against a well-known music publicist.
Dirty Projectors singer Amber Coffman calls for men in the indie music scene to look do their part to stop sexual assault. (Press photo)

Amber Coffman of Brooklyn band the Dirty Projectors joins Shad to discuss her decision to go public with sexual assault allegations against a well-known music publicist.

On January 18th, Coffman tweeted allegations about an encounter she says she had with Heathcliff Berru, the CEO of Life or Death PR. 

The off-the-cuff tweet was the first in a longer discussion, during which she eventually named him.

Since Coffman's tweets, several other women have come forward with allegations against Berru, who later issued an apologetic statement. While not addressing any specific incidents, he wrote: "I am deeply sorry for those who I have offended by my actions and how I have made certain women feel."

Berru also stepped down from his job and said he was entering rehab to deal with drugs and alcohol issues.

An 'industry level' issue 

Jes Skolnik, an editor at Impose Magazine and a contributor to Pitchfork, also joins Shad to offer a broader perspective on sexual misconduct in the indie music scene. 

"I'm glad we're talking about this in a bigger industry level," she says, adding that there have been many issues of this type over the years.

"A lot of it is people turning the other way, excusing it, not speaking up, and sometimes actually making excuses for it. Like, 'Oh he was drunk. Oh that's my friend; he just acts that way. He's just crazy like that. Or, this is just what it's like being in the industry, you party sometimes and it's part of it.'"

Skolnik says social media is a big part of why people are staring to feel more comfortable coming forward with allegations about sexual assault. 

"People are seeing these stories circulating, [they're seeing] positive responses to them. They're seeing visibility for them. And they're feeling like there might be a place for them to be able to talk and be heard."