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Beef Of The Week #372: Saunagate

By | Published on Friday 15 September 2017

Jeremy Underground

Well this was a whirlwind 24 hours or so. It started with a club night announcing it was booting an artist off the line-up after his agent threatened to bite them, then quickly escalated into something they’re calling #saunagate.

Up until Wednesday morning, all seemed to be going smoothly. The team behind Edinburgh’s Tweak club night were preparing for the launch of their new night Abstrakt, which is due to take place tonight. Booked to headline was French DJ Jeremy Underground. As a casual observer, you’d have assumed that everything was sorted, and that all that was left to do was put up the bunting and start buttering sandwiches ready for the party.

But no. Behind the scenes shit was going down. There was talk of bloodshed, withheld money and saunas.

“It is with regret that we have decided to cancel the performance of Jeremy Underground at this Friday’s Abstrakt launch party”, came an announcement on the club’s Facebook page, just before midday on Wednesday. “We have done so as a point of principle, against certain DJs/artists bullying small promoters and holding them to ransom over ridiculous demands”.

Blam! I’ll wait while you go and get popcorn.

The demands began, said Abstrakt, when a room was booked for Jeremy Underground at a four star hotel in Edinburgh, as per their contractual agreement. However, the DJ’s agent, Lionel Marciano at Real Tone, said that they did not approve of this hotel, asking for a “five star hotel with a sauna and gym”.

It transpired later that approval was in fact required from the agent prior to any hotel being booked, which may be why Abstrakt agreed to book another room in a better hotel for three nights, instead of just one. But new booking in place, that hotel was also rejected, with a final stipulation that Jeremy Underground would only agree to stay in Edinburgh’s Sheraton Grand.

By this point the hotel cancellation fees were mounting up in addition to the costs of the new grander hotel. “The agent did say that the artist would reimburse us for two of the three nights at [the second] hotel, but given that the Sheraton Grand’s cheapest room was £614 per night, we stood to lose £1551 on the artist’s hotel room alone”.

After some wrangling, Abstrakt’s organisers decided that this wasn’t going to work, and so wrote back to the agent to cancel Jeremy Underground’s performance and began work on a new last minute line-up for the event.

Marciano made attempts to rectify the situation, saying that Underground would cover the cost of his hotel, but by this point it was too late. “We are simply not prepared to work with this agency/artist and would rather lose money and let people know the truth of a situation that is all too common in the modern scene”, said Abstrakt promoter Simon Bays.

At this point, Underground’s travel costs and 50% of his booking fee had already been paid. Bays said that Abstrakt planned to pay the remaining 50% of the fee, despite the cancellation, but then all hell broke loose.

“You are fucking us”, wrote Marciano in an email screen-grabbed and posted along with the aforementioned Facebook post. “I am going to bite you! I swear I am going to put all my energy on you. I am telling you! You have no idea! I am on your case. I am telling you I am on your case”.

Was he finished? No, he was not. Another email followed: “I consider you as fucker now. You owe the artist this money. I will let everyone know. I am going to bite you. And believe me you are going to lose some blood”.

Just in case these two emails weren’t clear enough, the agent began sending text messages too: “You want to fuck us? I am on your case. Make the payment ASAP. I’m going to fuck you, man”.

I hope they make a film about this.

Clearly, the words “I’m going to bite you” were too good to stop this whole thing from going viral, fast, as soon as Abstrakt had published Marciano’s messages. Attempting to take ownership of the situation, Real Tone then put out its own statement, damning Abstrakt’s organisation.

“Our contract and initial agreements ask for hotel approval ahead of booking”, said the company. “A hotel was booked without our approval. Once we asked to change it, Abstrakt agreed to meet our needs and all was settled, but in the end, it was not done. When trying to fix the issue, Abstrakt shut us down, immediately cancelling the gig, just a few hours before the departure and a few days before the gig”.

It went on to claim that the cancellation “was used as fake pretext”, because of “slow ticket sales and potentially losing money”, adding that Abstrakt “had no intentions of paying their remaining balance that was due and that their cancelation was a way to remove themselves from the situation with as little damage as possible. This is the truth”.

However, it added: “With all that being said, the words used on our end were not justified and for that, we apologise. They do not represent us or artists well – our apologies have since been sent to the promoter as well and we are hoping to move on from this”.

Just to recap, those unjustified words related to biting people who don’t pay their debts until they bleed.

But what of the artist himself, who may well have been oblivious to this disagreement over his accommodation? Well, Jeremy Underground also posted on Facebook, saying that he didn’t see what all the fuss was about.

“My agent got a bit angry”, he said. “And yes things got out of control. I know he already apologised to the promoters. I apologise on behalf of him as well. I understand the anger – and I’m the first one in this whole situation to feel fucked – but insults are never a good choice. I just want my comfort. I’m a stressed-out dude, I want my sauna the day after the gig”.

Yeah, come on, can the man not have his sauna? All he wants is a flippin sauna. I think we all like to sit in a hot, dark, sweaty room for a little while after a hard evening standing in a hot, dark, sweaty room. Amazingly, Underground pointing out his sauna needs didn’t bring all the chatter about this spat to an end.

But that was Wednesday. We all know Wednesday is a tough day. It’s really hard to find time to sit in a sauna on a Wednesday and as a result people tend to get a bit angry and bitey. Thursday was better.

“We’d like to state publicly that Jeremy Underground has reached out to us and apologised for the actions of his agent and what seems to have been a mix up on behalf of the agency with regards to the hotel bookings”, came a new statement from Abstrakt yesterday. “We have also received an apology from the RT Agency”.

It continued: “Jeremy has had the agency refund his artist fee, agency fee, and has offered to refund the Apex hotel (but the hotel have already kindly given us a refund outside of the cancellation period). He has also agreed to reschedule a show and play for free, donating all proceeds to charity. We accept his apology, feel there is nothing more that he could do to help rectify the situation and would like to call on anyone making threats in his direction to stop – this is (and always has been) totally unacceptable, no matter what the actions of his agent”.

With Abstrakt now no longer out of pocket, its organisers announced that all profits from the show tonight will be donated to Shelter. Because everyone deserves a good night’s sleep, not just DJs.

Also enjoying a clearer head in the morning – it’s unclear if he’d been in the sauna or not – Jeremy Underground made a new statement on Thursday too. Having spoken to Abstrakt promoter Simon Bays, he said that “this [whole] mess started to make more sense”. It had been, he said, a series of miscommunications and misunderstandings between him, his agent and the club night. But now everything was fine and everyone was friends again.

He also confirmed that he’d returned the fee already paid to him, and that he had offered to play another Abstrakt night. So in the end, there was a happy ending. Some money is going to a worthy charity, and nobody actually got bitten.