The Regrettes’ Lydia Night Accuses SWMRS’ Joey Armstrong of Sexual Misconduct
“What I actually experienced was emotional abuse and sexual coercion by someone in a position of power over me,” singer alleges in lengthy statement
“I was in a relationship with Joey that started when I was 16 and ended right before my 18th birthday,” Night wrote Monday on Instagram. “For so long I viewed it just as being toxic and not something valid enough to share but now I know that what I actually experienced was emotional abuse and sexual coercion by someone in a position of power over me. It’s important to me that Joey and his entire band are held accountable to fully understand that even though they may view themselves as ‘good guys’ they are continuing to perpetuate the exact toxic culture they are trying to call out.”
Two days prior to Night’s post, Burger Records — which distributed a cassette edition of SWMRS’ 2016 LP, Drive North — issued a Facebook statement addressing accusations made against multiple, unspecified artists on the label. “Several stories have been brought to our attention about some Burger artists engaging in the grooming of underage girls for sex, relationships built on power imbalance, and the solicitation of pornography from minors,” the company wrote, along with a text image reading “ZERO TOLERANCE.”
The message continued, “With this in mind, we want to remind all of our artists, and inform the Burger community at large that we have a long-standing zero-tolerance policy for this sort of behavior. Zero-tolerance means complete removal from all Burger platforms, destruction of physical media, and an end to our dealings with you, no questions asked, and no exceptions given. If your situation calls for it, we will report you to the proper authorities. We have taken these actions with the artists that were reported to us in the past day, with the exception of removal of the offending artists catalog. We are donating profits from sales of that artist to charity at the victims request.”
SWMRS later posted an Instagram statement addressing “the stories that survivors of sexual abuse in the Southern California music scene have been sharing.”
“First of all, we want to acknowledge how brave it is of these survivors to come forward and rehash their trauma,” the band wrote. “To put yourself and your trauma in the spotlight is a terrifying and selfless act. It is exciting that we are in a place in society where we can have these conversations and take the survivors’ stories seriously. These stories are sparking a long overdue conversation about abuse in our community.”
Later in the note, they labeled stories of abuse as a “systemic poison that haunts the entire music industry.” “The music industry is a chain of abuse that starts with the adults who profit off of the precariousness of youth,” they wrote. “It is egregiously reinforced by us young men who are made to believe that we are rockstars. And it is survived by teenage girls who are just trying to see a fucking show. Time to unlearn and rethink. A message to our femme fans: thank you. We love and appreciate you. We are here to listen and learn.”
Night described her own message as a direct response to SWMRS’ own statement, which she labeled “unbelievably hypocritical.” “This band’s delusional positioning of themselves as woke feminists is not only triggering for me as a victim, but is complete bullshit and needs to be called out,” she wrote. “I’ve spent over a year processing and reflecting on my experience to try to find the right away to go about it.” A rep for SWMRS did not reply to multiple requests for comment.
Throughout her lengthy post, Night alleged numerous “traumatic events” from her relationship with Armstrong, which she said began when she was 16 and he was 22. Armstrong, she said, followed her on Instagram in May 2017 and sent her a direct message, noting that SWMRS would be offering the Regrettes some touring spots that year. She viewed SWMRS as being “vocal feminists and having a message that I thought aligned with mine.”
“Because of our age difference, Joey would continually ask me to keep our relationship as hidden as possible and I did,” she wrote, adding, “We had multiple conversations where he would say something along the lines of, ‘I want to move at your pace’ and ‘I don’t want to have sex until you’re 18’ but then would act in a completely contradicting way.”
Night accused Armstrong of pressuring her into sexual encounters. “Every time we took a step sexually it was because he wanted to and made it clear by either putting my hand on his crotch or shaming me for saying I wasn’t comfortable, gaslighting me or ignoring me when I didn’t give my consent,” she wrote.
The musician wrote that she believed “things would change” once she turned 18. But she claimed that, two months before her 18th birthday, she had an “eye-opening” conversation with Armstrong during a trip to visit him in New York.
“One of these nights, he changed the ‘rules’ he had prefaced our entire relationship on,” she wrote. “He now said ‘let’s not pay much attention to any exact time frame.’ … His timeline and promise of a ‘real’ relationship was the thing that strung me along but once we got closer to the thing he would call the finish line, it was apparent it was bullshit all along. I knew I was done and chose to end it.”
Night said it took her years to process their relationship. “When I started becoming sexual in my current relationship, there were multiple times where I felt extremely triggered and would cry in bed not knowing how to explain it,” she wrote. “I’m still remembering traumatic events from Joey and I’s relationship three years later. It hit me hard and took a major toll on my self esteem.”
She described confronting Armstrong last December. “Even though he interrupted me throughout our conversation, he seemed to somewhat take in what I was telling him and apologized,” she wrote. She also described having “two constructive conversations” with SWMRS singer Cole Becker, whom she said dropped off a handwritten apology letter from Armstrong at her home. The note, she wrote, “was nice but didn’t address any of the abuse, my age, his position of power or anything sexual at all.”
Armstrong, she alleged, texted her to follow up on the letter, which she calls a “completely transparent attempt at feeling out what I was gonna do knowing the pure hypocrisy their statement held.” Night concluded the statement by describing Armstrong as “only one of sooo many people who [doesn’t] realize that their power dynamic makes any romantic relationship abusive and inappropriate by nature.”
“The deep seeded toxic norms of men need to be called out for exactly what they are,” she wrote. “My goal here isn’t to ‘cancel’ anyone but to further the conversation of the intricacies of power abuse, grooming and manipulation that not only exists in the music industry, but in so many other industries. I recognize that my privilege as a white woman with a platform amplifies this statement.”