Late last week, Los Angeles-based artist Eddington Again (who released on R&S sub-label Apollo last year) shared screenshots of emails between them and Vandepapeliere on Instagram. Following an exchange about a perceived lack of Black artists on the label as well as a lack of public support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Vandepapeliere dismissed Again’s concerns, said that they should “find a good label” and that R&S was working with “a full pure breed Black artist”—comments that immediately drew criticism from across the dance music community.
In a statement given to Resident Advisor, Eddington Again said:
My problems with R&S started about a year and a half ago when the A&R that introduced me to R&S quit after numerous arguments with Renaat. That was the first time I realized that I needed to part ways with the label. Since then, there have been several times I’ve felt disrespected and disregarded by Renaat and Andy Whittaker at R&S.
I asked numerous times for a termination letter after receiving incorrect splits on late royalty statements. Since the death of George Floyd and the global uprising for the Black lives, R&S has said nothing on the matter. I’ve learned through experience that white silence on racial issues is ultimately violence.
I asked Renaat why they would stay silent on such a subject and expressed my concern over the roster’s lack of diversity. I was dismissed, told that I didn’t know what I was talking about, and needed to move on. After multiple ignored emails and consistent disrespect, while in conversation with Renaat via email, he said, “I hope that I have now found a full pure breed black artist that I can spend my life within full focus…”
The fact that Renaat breeds horses and even has one as the R&S logo made this comment extra disgusting. On top of the blatant disregard for my concerns, this was the last straw and made me go public.
The emails have gone viral, Renaat has failed to dismiss the comment he made, solely justifying it as something lost in translation. It’s 2020–if you run a record label or work in a culture industry, you should probably be able to read the room—and yet, still no apology or accountability, just instead another attempt to silence me. Really? On top of that he has also blocked me on Instagram.
Renaat and his team sent a termination letter after he started getting dragged but stated that R&S would only terminate the contract if I delete the post and refrain from saying anything else on the matter on social media or the press.
R&S/Apollo took my EP Damani3 off streaming without notice and have yet to give me the IRSC codes to put my music back up.
After being contacted by RA, Renaat Vandepapeliere sent over the following statement:
At R&S Records, we are deeply convinced of the urgency of racial equality, non-discrimination and a sensitive and respectful discourse. This is why I apologise for the misunderstandings caused by the email exchanges between myself and former Apollo Records artist Eddington Again.
R&S is by no means an organization where bigotry has a place. We would hereby like to assure everyone that our passion is with people and music, and that the message at hand was by no means intended to offend Eddington Again or anyone else.
In the heat of my personal email exchange with Eddington Again I answered from a place of passion and emotion. This was impulsively motivated by the love that I have for both R&S Records and a newly signed artist that I’m most impressed with. In Dutch, the questionable metaphor at hand is used to express a passion for innate talent, true artistry. However, the haste with which I reacted caused me not to consider its different resonance in English. Also, I failed to see its destructive connotations, a decision that I now cannot meet with anything else than deep regret.
I understand the indignance my utterings have caused, do not wish to avoid my responsibility in the matter and acknowledge that I failed to demonstrate the necessary attentiveness in my interactions with Eddington Again. This is why I would like to offer my sincere apologies to the artist and to anyone impacted by my choice of words.
Furthermore, I would like to emphasize that I am most committed to educating myself on the impact of privilege on our social fabric. As an independent record label, R&S Records has always been a platform for people of all orientations and backgrounds. Subsequently, our label is nowhere without efforts to accommodate this diversity from a place of heartfelt care and concern. This is why I would like to stress that artists of all orientations, genders, backgrounds and colors are and always have been welcome at R&S, hereby securing a creative space that is inclusive and open to all.
Nonetheless, I wish to stress the remorse I feel to all that have been shocked. Languages everywhere are infused by contorted, pejorative notions that are harmful to many among us. These notions are among the many subtle and unsubtle forms of repression that haunt our society, and that we at R&S strive to confront—mistake by mistake, little by little, and word by word.
In a separate statement sent by R&S Records, the label said it had terminated its contract with Again and removed their songs from all streaming services. In the time since, Eddington Again has uploaded their former Apollo Records EP Damani3 to their Bandcamp.