Cathy Pellow, the founder and owner of the record label and management company Sargent House, has stepped down from her position at the company following allegations of abusive behaviour. Henry Kohen of Mylets detailed some of this abusive behaviour in a statement which reads,
”First I’d like to say thank you to the friends, former/current SH artists and employees, and fans who have reached out to show support and share their own experiences. I would like to be transparent here and acknowledge that Cathy has reached out to me privately, expressing curiosity around my previous video. It is important to me that there is an understanding that this issue transcends any of my own personal experiences and that, even in the event that any of the following may be lost memories for Cathy, there is an undeniable culture and pattern of behavior that is ingrained in the foundation of Sargent House that needs to be addressed. I would like to speak about two occurrences that I personally went through and then touch on the bigger picture.
In September 2015 when I was 19 and still living in Sargent House I was molested by venue owner and Sargent House-regular Graeme Flegenheimer while trying to kick him out of the house. I told Cathy about this, about how he had lingered around after a party until everyone left and began asking me extremely inappropriate questions, how he groped me and made passes at me after I refused to get into a bed with him, how he had climbed the front wall of the house to get back inside and searched for me after I locked him out, how he had then proceeded to send me insulting and explicit text messages throughout that night. I was not taken seriously, met with essentially a shrug and an awkward laugh, and a few nights later I arrived to the house to find him back over as a dinner guest. Their professional and personal relationship remained intact for long after I had told Cathy. This was the impetus for me deciding to move out of Sargent House, a move that would also lead away from my aspirations of having a life centered around music. I had heard Cathy strongly and publicly condemn perpetrators and advocate for victims using the Sargent House platform and the lack of acknowledgement or action thoroughly contributed to my suppression and denial of what had happened to me.
In October 2013, when I was just 17, at a show in Chicago on my very first North American tour, Cathy took me aside and told me with the utmost gravity to never ever forget that the only reason anyone would ever pay attention or value my music was because of her. I truly have never forgotten this! Later this same night, she would walk all over and damage my records and shirts with muddy shoes and eventually go on to call my Mom a cunt in front of the entire tour line-up, my parents, and fans who had stuck around.
I am embarrassed to talk about either of these events and they certainly are not the extent of my experiences, but I deserve to exorcise them from my head and they are also important in understanding the culture surrounding Sargent House. I witnessed routine extreme degradation and verbal abuse of employees and artists, intentional belittling and manipulation leading to rivalries and insecurities within the artist-base, blatant and even proudly misogynistic language surrounding the ‘acquisition’ of emotionally-vulnerable female artists, purposeful withholding of financial information except when making vague allusions to how indebted the artists were to her, open disdain for the fan bases of bands, forceful and targeted breaking of artists and employee’s personal boundaries, and an all-encompassing process of ‘othering’ that instilled a constant feeling of paranoia.
I have no ambitions to ‘cancel’ Cathy, to shut down Sargent House, no feelings of vindictiveness. What I am asking for is for there to be an acknowledgement of past behaviors in order to assure any artists, employees, or fans that this type of systematic treatment is no longer tolerable and that those who have been hurt can get accountability without the fear of having to put themselves on the line legally or financially and without having to revisit existentially embarrassing or hurtful times of their lives. Through the label’s constructed outward messaging and aesthetic, many people are drawn to join Sargent House whether as artists, employees, or devoted fans and I believe these people all deserve an impression built on good faith when considering pouring themselves into a brand."
Cathy Pellow released a statement responding to Henry’s statement which reads in part,
"To Henry, I sincerely apologize and had no idea how much my words and actions hurt you.[…] I also want to apologize to any past employees or artists who have been negatively impacted by my actions. I’ve been too oblivious and unaware of the harm that my behaviour had caused, I know that doesn’t excuse the facts and I take full responsibility for any pain I brought to those around me. I feel ashamed and am truly remorseful. I want to do right by those I have let down and I am open and welcoming to anyone who would be willing to have a conversation with me. I see now how offensive I was to a lot of people, but I am human and hopefully deserving of a chance to make amends.
Sobriety has been really important to me in recent years, especially during and after the pandemic. I do not expect to gain any sympathy from anyone, but I am no longer the person I used to be, and I am striving to become a better person and correct my past mistakes. With that in mind, I have closed the management side and will be stepping away from Sargent House to focus on the things I can do to fix these issues and take care of my own mental health."
I am the only one that can account for my actions, so I ask that people direct their anger or disappointment towards me and not toward any of the artists associated past or present."
Other artists have also released statements about ending their relationship with Pellow including Chelsea Wolfe who stated in an Instagram story, “I no longer work with Cathy Pellow. I left last summer for my mental health”. King Woman shared this statement to her story along with the caption “I second this. I also left a few years ago”. Lingua Ignota also spoke about her decision to stop working with Pellow in a statement posted as an Instagram story which reads,
"I have been working very hard to make my life as healthy and happy as possible. A big part of that equation meant ending my relationship with Cathy Pellow, which I did last year. I am focusing on my future and will be going into detail about my experience but I stand in unequivocal support of the artists and employees speaking out. I am grateful to be free and healing.”
Botch bassist Brian Cook took to Twitter to discuss the allegations in a thread that reads in part,
“Hi. I've been a Sargent House artist for 17 years. I'm friends with a bunch of the artists & employees past and present. I know who's slept with who, who's mad at who, who lied to who, who has been privately talking to who… I know so much petty drama and dirt that you don't. […]
I know which shit adds up and which shit doesn't. And I still don't know what the hell is actually going on, but I know people fear internet mobs more than anything right now. So if you want a public statement, here it is: I applaud people for being angry given the information they have at hand. But if I don't know what's actually going on, then consider that maybe you don't have the full picture either. And I'm not casting stones until I know who I can actually trust in this mess.”
Read the full statements by Henry Kohen, Cathy Pellow, and Brian Cook below.
I’ve been a Sargent House artist for 17 years. I’m friends with a bunch of the artists & employees past and present. I know who’s slept with who, who’s mad at who, who lied to who, who has been privately talking to who… I know so much petty drama and dirt that you don’t.
— Brian Cook (@bbcbubblegutz) March 25, 2023