Can the accusations leveled against the singer of Arcade Fire break a dynamic that seemed unstoppable since the release of the the band’s first album, Funeral, in 2004 ? Mainly carried by the duo of singers and multi-instrumentalists Win Butler and Régine Chassagne (who are also married), the promising young collective in the mid-2000s transformed itself over the years into an efficient indie-rock machine capable of filling the Zenith and Arena, even stadiums.
Their world tour is due to begin on Tuesday August 30, in Dublin (Ireland), with four dates scheduled in France in September. It is in this context that the leader of the group, Win Butler, finds himself at the center of accusations mixing influence and inappropriate sexual behavior with several of his fans, including sexual assault against one of these people.
The influential American music site Pitchfork – which largely contributed to the group’s emergence and popularity – published an article, Saturday August 27, bringing together several testimonies highlighting certain actions of the main songwriter of the Canadian group in private and online. The media was able to consult screenshots of messages exchanged by SMS as well as on the Instagram social network between the front man of Arcade Fire and the four declared victims, and interviewed several relatives who had been made aware of the allegations relating to events that allegedly took place between 2015 and 2020. In accordance with the request of the four fans interviewed, their testimony was anonymized and The world could not consult them. Pitchfork does not specify whether one or more complaints have been filed.
“I opened my door and he pushed me against the wall”
A non-binary person accuses Win Butler of sexually assaulting her twice in 2015, when they were 21 and 34 respectively. The declared facts would have occurred in a car then in the apartment of the victim, whereas this one had sent several messages asking the singer not to go there. “I opened my door and he slammed me against the wall and aggressively grabbed my body and stuck his tongue in my mouth”, says “Lily” to journalist Marc Hogan, author of the article. An accusation brushed aside by the singer in a press release sent to the American media: ” When [Lily] opened the door, we started kissing immediately… I don’t remember who initiated it, but it was definitely mutual. »
“Stella” had been contacted by the singer on the Instagram social network in 2016
Three women also recount sexual interactions with Mr. Butler, which they consider inappropriate given the age difference, their respective statuses and the conditions in which they took place. Aged 18 at the time of the reported events, “Stella” had been contacted by the singer on the Instagram social network in 2016 after posting photographs taken of him at a charity event. After having given themselves their telephone numbers, the singer would have encouraged her to write to him then would have sent him photos of her sex, images not requested by Stella.
Two fans, 20 and 23, ‘Sarah’ and ‘Fiona’ share Win Butler’s insistent demands for sex videos in 2017 and 2018. “certain sexual poses and acts, spoken words, outfits or sex toys that he encouraged them to buy”writes in particular the music site.
Alcoholism, abuse and excuses
Contacted by Pitchfork, Win Butler confirms having had extramarital relations with the four fans in question, but assures that they were consented. Supported by crisis communication expert Risa Heller, the singer then published a second press release in which he apologized repeatedly, spoke of a period during which he was struggling with depression and “ghosts of childhood abuse” and had sunk into alcoholism. “I am truly sorry for those whom I have hurt by my attitude.wrote the co-founder of Arcade Fire. I continue to learn from my mistakes and work to become a better person. »
Fans interviewed by Pitchfork were between the ages of 18 and 23 at the start of their relationship with the singer. He was then between 34 and 39 years old. “I didn’t realize the importance of the age difference at the time”defends the artist in his statement, before continuing: “When I think back to who I was at 18, I can now see how heavy it must have been, but at the time I didn’t grasp it. »
In another press release, his wife Régine Chassagne supports Win Butler – who specifies that she is in an open relationship with the latter. The Canadian singer describes the Californian artist, whom she knows ” Since twenty years “like his ” soul mate, [son] songwriting partner, [son] husband, father [son] beautiful child”. “I know what’s in his heart, and I know he never has and would never touch a woman without her consent, and I’m sure he never has”writes the co-founder of the group. “He got lost and found his way”she concludes.