“Foxygen aren’t that rich or big. If I was just a fame seeker or gold digger I would pick a bigger band. I’d go after Dave Grohl or The Chili Peppers,” Elizabeth Le Fey (who performs under the name Globelamp) laughs. “That’s a really dumb argument.”
It’s a lighthearted moment in a conversation that is at times pained and emotional, but more focused than you might expect. The controversial indie singer is often the subject of the “hysterical woman” trope by trolls. We’re on the subject of dismissing detractors who are unsavory enough to accuse her of continually dredging up her semi-known drama with her former boyfriend Sam France and his band Foxygen.
Some people think she has used allegations that she was abused by France as a marketing strategy, with a very defensive Sean Lennon (we’ll get to that in a minute) questioning her motives.
“They tried to say I couldn’t mention Foxygen, and [acted] like I was never a member, but they still were fine with using my image after the fact,” she says.
Briefly, when Foxygen was going stronger, singer Sam France reached out to Globelamp to be in a video and work with him. She was flattered and was soon part of the group, which led to fractions forming in the band. The relationship got messy and more toxic, and Le Fey claimed Sam punched her in the face, and she produced photos. She had no lawyer and lost a case in court.
Le Fey says she was framed by France’s mother, who she claims lied when she accused Le Fey of trying to break into France’s house (when Le Fey claims she was dropping something off). A restraining order against Le Fey was obtained by France and his family, and there’s a wall of virtual silence from the Foxygen camp.
“It makes sense when you see how five months prior I exposed Foxygen on Pitchfork and made them look bad, and all of a sudden they got the restraining order,” she says.
Le Fey claims the fact that she went to a party at Sam’s house once was used against her, among other things.
Let’s remember that people don’t always make the right choices in abusive or toxic relationships. I stayed with someone a long time who was hitting me often in front of my friends and I finally slapped her back, one of my biggest life regrets. Thankfully we are healed and good friends years later, but that wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t faced our issues and handled it eventually like adults. Of course, that isn’t always typical, possible or even the best course of action depending on the circumstances.
An anonymous Twitter site called @HurricaneLizzi exists with all the subtlety of a Pepe-the-frog-touting Trump troll, which derides Le Fey’s every action daily with charming comments like, “If there was no intention to hit, it wasn’t abuse.”
I decided I wanted to see if Le Fey would agree to go through some of her critics’ repeated attacks with a fine comb. I know the music industry can be very fake and protective, and from where I am sitting, it seems like Le Fey has been much more forthcoming than any of the people against her.
I had planned on interviewing Le Fey even before her most recent controversy turned heads (Lennon called it #Globelampgate on his IG the other night). I was really into Globelamp’s gorgeous new folk-infused album The Orange Glow (out now, Wichita Recordings). I didn’t even know the whole dramatic Foxygen backstory. Globelamp had followed my Twitter page, and I checked out her record and thought it blew away most of the indie stuff I’d heard all year, up there with Miserable, Savages and Prince Rama as some of the coolest multi-layered music in 2016.
Then Le Fey decided to protest Desert Daze Festival when they booked Foxygen this year. Desert Daze features a tribute to the late great Alan Vega of Suicide and some kickass bands like Dead Meadow, Deerhunter and The Sonics. People are going to attend the festival no matter what. Le Fey has been asking people to boycott it.
She initially asked Sean Lennon to help publicize her story by sharing an article about her, but he was reluctant. It turns out some of Lennon’s friends organized the festival and he didn’t want them to take a loss on a protest. It is the natural side effect of addressing serious issues sometimes — events might take a loss, and the public should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to attend. It is also the job of a festival to try and vet their artists a bit.
Le Fey shared her private correspondence with Lennon on Twitter because she says her feelings were hurt, which made him angry.
“I try to run things by my fans sometimes because I have gotten into some situations before where I feel like it is good to know what other people who support me think now,” Le Fey says.
Lennon felt the sharing of the private DM (which Le Fey has apologized for sharing) was a personal betrayal. Lennon began using increasingly lazy language and at one point tweeted, “I know that if Jimi Hendrix had slapped his girlfriend boycotting all Woodstock would be ridiculous!”
In a few posts on Instagram he also said he used to like Globelamp until he found out she was “crazy.” Then he claimed mansplaining was reverse sexism against men and obviously that did not sit well with many intersectional feminists.
“He’s said so many things publicly,” Le Fey says. “I get it. I’ve said stuff, too, that is mad online, but I feel like if I was in his position with that much money or power I’d have a manager or someone telling me, ‘Lizzi, is that really logical to post?’ He went off with a Jimi Hendrix comment and didn’t need to go there. I think he is naive. He doesn’t realize the power of the Internet. I do, because I’ve had my blog blown up, [and] all kinds of stuff happen to me. So when he was saying sexist shit, I knew he was gonna get other people involved.”
“I feel like he’s manipulating this whole thing,” Le Fey says. “I’m sorry I shared that DM. I reached out to him asking to share my story and he didn’t and gave me a long excuse why. It hurt my feelings and I started a protest, because obviously bigger people didn’t care. He’s so privileged and could never understand what it is like to be in a position to not afford a lawyer and be framed in court. Or being a female without much money in the music industry. Sean Lennon was probably born with a lawyer. I get his ego was hurt that I shared a direct message, but what was it about? It was about how he wouldn’t help me. I was letting my fans know it felt like people didn’t want me to protest.”
Lennon has been quick to insist that he never said she couldn’t protest Desert Daze, but that he thought it was wack. Yet he has consistently used some very dismissive language and seems to not get how his leverage as a big name could cause hundreds of his followers to blindly agree with him because his dad was a Beatle, piling on a woman who just might be telling the truth about real PTSD. I’m not biased against Lennon in any way. We even have some mutual friends. But that seems pretty gross.
“I think he is not acknowledging his class,” Le Fey says. “If you acknowledge having power, being male, Yoko and John’s son who is forty and arguing with people about domestic violence and court … I dunno, He wanted to write a duet with me and stuff, so maybe I did really hurt his feelings.”
I was one of the people speaking back and forth on Instagram and Twitter between Lennon and Le Fey. I was trying to remind Sean that it is not cool to call a woman “crazy” and that it would be awesome for both of their followers to see a positive debate and resolution rather than keeping it ugly between them. Just another Friday night, right?
Then, just the other night when I was about to interview Le Fey, I saw Lennon post a picture of him smiling next to Yoko Ono, and once again seemed very dismissive of Le Fey’s claims. When I told Le Fey, she got sad and was so upset she couldn’t even look at it for an hour until she calmed down.
In the photo Lennon captioned:
“Mom giggling over dinner tonight over the ‘mansplain’ globelampgate debacle. I tried explaining to her that in today’s vernacular women can’t be sexist towards men because of institutional patriarchy… her response ‘well that’s just crazy!’ LOL I was like ‘That’s what I said but we also have to be careful about the word ‘crazy,’ which has been used historically to dismiss women. She said, ‘It’s true but doesn’t change the fact that it’s just crazy.’” And then he posted a bunch of fucking emojis including a fist.
When I first saw the comment, 6,000 people liked it.
As a Globelamp supporter wrote on Facebook afterwards: “Sooo childish. ‘I talked to my mom and she said that you’re wrong. Here’s a photo of us!’”
People felt trotting out mom and getting her famous help to dismiss a much smaller female artist was not the best way to show you are sympathetic to feminist causes. Again, if there was even the slightest chance Le Fey is telling the truth, why is Lennon so comfortable (when he has stated he doesn’t know for sure what happened with her and France) heaping on additional potentially triggering language? Because some Globelamp followers said he might sound a bit sexist?
“Subconsciously people are sexist and think we aren’t ladylike to express anger,” Le Fey says. “They think it means we aren’t doing anything else in our lives. I’m doing lots of other things too. I wanted to have a protest. [Sean] is trying to make this all about himself and now has his mother involved. He asked me to say he isn’t a misogynist on Twitter, and he would send me a painting! I don’t want a painting. I’m not retracting any statements. Why would I do that when he continues to say misogynistic things? He’s like a comic strip … all these women around him bleeding and saying, ‘Here is my story,’ and he is walking on them and saying, ‘I am a feminist.'”
Saying “mansplaining is sexist against men” is a pretty archaic lens to use when looking at the world.
“It is more proper to say ‘prejudiced,’” Le Fey explains. “Since women aren’t equals in any country, you can be prejudiced but not sexist towards men. I used to think like Sean does, too, but have lot of very liberal friends who went to Evergeen and we’ve talked about it for hours. People can act seemingly sexist towards you as a man, but the politically correct way to comment on it is to call it prejudice and acknowledge the power imbalance. Sean Lennon should see HeForShe [started by Emma Watson]. She’s a global ambassador for women’s rights and said we can’t have a revolution when half the people haven’t been invited. She argues that men have to be part of the feminist movement. It affects them, too … A lot of radical people thought it wasn’t radical enough, but I thought it was a great way to introduce the concepts to moderates. If Sean is a feminist, he should probably watch that.”
Particularly disheartening is seeing people attack Le Fey for retelling her story. There is no time table on grief and sometimes things come back up under stress. She is more willing to embrace the nuances of the story than Foxygen.
“She’s crazy. We don’t even want to comment,” she jokes, pretending to be them.
A lot of this reminds me of a recent tweet by the politically active band Deerhoof which said:
“The world is divided into two types of people: the powerful, who must be protected and rewarded, and the powerless, who are fair game.”
Le Fey sighs, sounding really exhausted and discouraged. “All day I have been doing things like playing with my little brother. I don’t need Sean Lennon talking extra shit about me still,” she says. “Why is he so threatened?”
Gertrude Stein once said, to paraphrase, that there is not really such a thing as repetition, as each telling of a story carries a new or different insistence.
When you are speaking into what feels like a void sometimes, and already feel like you’re up against a wall, it is not like you are always going to be on your A-game emotionally. People seem to be dismissing Le Fey out of sexism or brand loyalty to bigger bands and brands, and to me that seems really lame and suspicious.
“Yeah, I noticed,” Le Fey says. “People were just sending me fucking Beatles gifs. Which is funny because I like The Beatles. I know his dad was fucked up, too. But from what I read John tried to change his ways at the end of his life and he understood protest. Him and Yoko protested all the time. Before I found out John was abusive, The Beatles were huge for me. And also how Sean was a protester. That’s why I sent him my fucking article to see if he’d share my story.”
She pauses and continues.
“My record is about some of the stuff that happened to me. The Orange Glow is symbolic of the saying ‘all that glitters isn’t gold.’ My decision to join Foxygen and thinking I was joining this nice, orange glow, and then later on I wondered how I got out alive,” Le Fey says. “It’s part of my album, so I don’t appreciate people saying I can’t talk about what is in the songs.”
Critics have even gone so far as to tell Le Fey she isn’t allowed to like Guns N Roses because Axl used to hit women. Le Fey has said she is a fan of the band (her mom was an 80’s rocker) and then adds, “At least Axl got help and medication. Sam has evaded it.”
Elizabeth Le Fey and I realize we are both stubborn Aries and laugh.
“It’s fucked up. I feel like if they met me they’d think differently about me or something,” she says.
“I can’t force anyone to believe me. I can just put the story out there. I don’t want to keep reliving it but it did happen, and I don’t want to fight with everyone on Twitter either. It makes me feel like we never had riot grrrl and there was never that time period. That’s why I moved to Olympia, because of riot grrrl. I feel like it was important.” She quotes: “”I’m so sorry I’m alienating some of you, your whole culture alienates me.’ I really relate to that Bikini Kill lyric.”
I’m more inclined to believe Le Fey because she also said she had done some stuff she regretted in her relationship with Sam France and is not a “perfect victim.” There is no such thing as a warts-free dysfunctional relationship.
“I wish I hadn’t said that because now people say it must mean I’m lying or like I was a serial abuser of Sam,” she says. “He’s six feet tall. People want to bring me down and I am already down. That’s why I am talking about it.”
One line of attack against Le Fey states that she should be happy there is a restraining order if Sam France really posed any danger.
“No, I was framed,” she says. “I didn’t feel scared after we broke up. I just didn’t tell anybody about the violence besides Sam’s dad at first, because I didn’t know how to deal with it. I sent Sam’s dad texts saying Sam hit me and I didn’t know what to do, and he never responded. Sam lied and took me to court and traumatized me. We had drama and have no chance of even making peace now which is really stupid and unhealthy. That’s why I am honest. I don’t deserve a restraining order on me. Just because I am not perfect doesn’t mean I deserve that. I didn’t even want to see Sam. But this makes it so we can’t even have closure. He took it to another level.”
The restraining order handed down against a woman with no lawyer who was alleging abuse from a lawyered-up guy with family and more cash behind him seems shocking to some people.
“The restraining order wasn’t that I abused Sam,” Le Fey says. “They tried to use my tweets and lyrics against me in court, but the judge dismissed that. People read into shit way too much. I would have won if I had a lawyer. It wasn’t a restraining order that I was violent towards him.”
Le Fey really regrets not finding a way to afford a lawyer.
“I was winning, then we had a break to have lunch,” she explains. “When we came back Sam’s lawyer had thought of a plan to confuse me. I didn’t even have a lawyer. The fact that I was almost beating them without one says something. In hindsight if I had any idea what was going to happen, I was over-confident … it was such bullshit I didn’t think I needed one. I would’ve tried somehow to get a lawyer and I would’ve won. I had a strong case and a letter saying I had PTSD from a doctor. A letter from my dentist saying it looked like my teeth had been impacted from a hit. I still have it, it’s in a box with all the restraining order shit.”
@HurricaneLizzi has tried to say Le Fey broke her teeth on a shopping cart prior to the incident she claims to have documented — a photo she shared of her face after allegedly being punched by France. Does that mean they wouldn’t re-break if someone hit her in the face?
“Sam knocked off my caps and I had to get implants,” she clarifies. “He already knew about my teeth. That’s why it was such a big deal. I did initially break it on a shopping cart but that’s not why I had to later get implants. The shopping cart was the beginning of my teeth being messed up, which Sam finished.”
You can’t blame her for feeling paranoid if she is being silenced. A recent supportive Nylon article, a platform with millions of readers, published an interview in support of Elizabeth Le Fey that was later taken down, and the writer told Le Fey they don’t know why. Then there are the anonymous hater accounts and the fact that private Facebook posts only visible for friends were used by Sam’s family against her at one point, meaning someone, somehow, still saw her posts.
Le Fey started a petition for Nylon to stand by their publication of her story, as it was not cool to relive it again for no reason. Famed trans punk and activist rocker Laura Jane Grace is one of the people who signed it in support.
“The anonymous Twitter accounts might be Sam and his family,” Le Fey speculates. “It could be his dad or something ’cause they have no life, but I don’t really know. As for Nylon, wouldn’t anyone be mad their story was taken down?”
Whether The Orange Glow blows up or stays at a certain level, whoever does find it is gonna value it. It’s full of Donovan influenced soulful faerie folk music with deep layers and harmonies, Le Fey’s enchanted voice and a real sense of bare-it-all bravery.
“That’s all I could ask for,” she says. “It means a lot it is out and in stores. I would feel unhappy if I didn’t tell the truth or chose to be meek. I have [known] so many older women who had no internet and never spoke out when super heavy shit happened to them. They didn’t even know how to tell anybody. They made me feel stronger about it.”
Ironically, Le Fey is friends with writer Art Tavana. Tavana is widely considered misogynist for an article he wrote for L.A. Weekly that some felt over-sexualized singer Sky Ferreira. For the record, I love Sky and “Heavy Metal Heart” is my jam. She liked a tweet of mine about being wasted watching the movie Little Man and I have no bias against her.
Critics have tried to imply Le Fey stirs up beef, like asking why people cared more about Sky Ferreira’s L.A. Weekly article than one about a woman getting punched in the face.
“It was more complicated than that,” Le Fey says. “Art Tavana is my friend and got called a rapist and misogynist by people who hated his article on Sky. He was one of only music journalists who encouraged me to speak up. When he got in trouble for his article, it made me kind of pissed off. He’s helped a lot of women in the L.A. rock scene. Then people are tearing down Art, but not Sam? I don’t agree with all of Art’s piece, but if someone is using their sexuality in a pop format … people didn’t care about my thing but they cared about someone talking about how they liked Sky’s tits, which she put on her album cover? What’s wrong with owning that? Elvis was sexy. Art is my friend and I kept bringing it up because of that. Sky has defended Terry Richardson. I feel like that with Art. I didn’t like how everyone ripped him up and he’s super paranoid to write now and can’t even write about females anymore when he’s gotten a lot of female bands on the cover of L.A. Weekly.”
She adds, “They took out of that article how he talked about Justin Bieber’s sexuality to show a more balanced view … the editor took that out. That changes the tone. And he didn’t make up the headline for the article that everyone took offense at. I’m not randomly hating on Sky. Art is my friend. Why is Art under so much scrutiny but not Sean Lennon? Or Sam, no scrutiny? Art gets death threats but Sam is protected because he was in Saint Laurent shows. He’s friends with The Flaming Lips. It’s interesting to see the other end of things.”
“I don’t just hate guys,” she says. “It’s interesting that my friend who is considered so anti-feminist has been such a good friend to me. I don’t think anything is wrong with being sexual. Put something out there publicly, it isn’t only just your image anymore. He’s put Sasha Grey in L.A. Weekly and is all about supporting sex workers and shit. It ironically made Sky a feminist icon. I think it’s funny. Now she is in Playboy. People have a right to frame themselves sexually in a way they feel comfortable with, that’s true. I get that. If someone is a rapist or harassing you or saying mean things that is one thing, but if she is willing to be on the cover of Playboy why is it such a big thing that someone wrote that they really like her boobs? I believe in equal treatment. I’m a feminist but not anti-men. Men have a lot of systematic emotional problems.”
Incidentally, one of the a follow-up apologies that L.A. Weekly posted regarding the Art/Sky controversy is a great example of why Nylon’s retraction of Globelamp’s story comes off as unethical. They could have always updated it with a new post, but instead questionably decided on deletion.
L.A. Weekly wrote in a follow up apology on the Tavana scandal that:
“Many people have demanded that we take down Tavana’s column. But once you publish something on the internet, it’s out there forever in one form or another — so for us to attempt to erase it would be disingenuous. We’ll leave it up as a topic of discussion, or outrage, or as a cautionary tale…”
Elizabeth Le Fey is trying to take it all in stride, stay positive and keep moving forward. She wishes dialogue on these issues would improve, and that more people should own their mistakes. I can only imagine how shitty it feels for Le Fey — to feel like people are against her or she is singing into the wind, so to speak.
“Whenever I play my song ‘The Negative’ I feel like I am releasing negativity,” Le Fey tells me. “My best friend who died, who some songs are about, told me to buy some obsidian to ward off negative energy. She wrote the lyric ‘Answers are just questions killing time.’ Block out the bad things, but also dealing with and releasing it too. Life stuff.”
I ask Le Fey if she will discuss whether people might think she’s paranoid when she says that her album is the only one on her label that hasn’t been reviewed by Pitchfork.
“If I released it myself, I wouldn’t think that, but thought it was weird it was the only one on the label not to be reviewed,” she says. “So I was speculating. If I wasn’t already feeling like my story was in isolation, maybe I wouldn’t go there. I can’t believe how people are trying to make it seem like I am making it up. What am I getting out of it? A lot of money? Sean Lennon fans yelling at me? I’ve had real shit happen to me. My best friend and grandpa died. So when a random person is yelling at me some bullshit I have a spiritual shield up and know it is just noise.”
“Real pain comes from when you love someone and they die or hurt you,” says Le Fey. “It sounds fucked up but once you are hurt really bad, it makes it easier to deal with trolls. We’re all gonna die, so I at least want my side of the story told. Haters do stress me out. But I’ve learned I can walk through flames.”