by Jay Gabler
March 26, 2021
Sean Tillmann, the Minneapolis musician who performs as Har Mar Superstar, has been accused of sexual misconduct. Multiple women have detailed experiencing "assault or harassment" by Tillmann in incidents spanning 2014 to 2017, reports the Star Tribune. After one account surfaced recently in a private Facebook post, other women shared accounts and have now spoken to the Star Tribune.
A public statement from "a collective of survivors and allies" said that seven survivors have experienced abuse and assault, followed by "efforts to silence us via social media, private messages, and scare tactics involving character assassination."
Yesterday evening, Tillmann published a statement apologizing "to anyone who feels I've hurt them" and acknowledging a past pattern of harm "fueled by a toxic mixture of alcohol, drugs, and cavalier sexuality." At the same time, Tillmann writes that "I categorically deny the version of events" presented in the private post about his behavior.
First Avenue has stopped selling tickets to a scheduled show by Heart Bones, a band featuring Tillmann. "Once we became aware of the allegations, we felt it was the best decision to take the show down until there is accountability," the venue said in a statement to the Star Tribune.
The accounts of Tillmann's behavior have emerged during a years-long reckoning with patterns of misogyny and abuse in society generally and in the music world specifically, including the Minnesota music scene. A wave of accounts last summer resulted in Rhymesayers dropping artists Prof and deM atlaS from their roster; that label continues to face boycott calls citing what artist Psalm One described as a "culture of abuse."
Continuing conversations as part of the global #MeToo movement have resulted in multiple additional artists both locally and nationally facing criticism for their actions in what women describe as a persistent culture of patriarchal entitlement and abuse that extends well beyond the music world — but can be particularly pernicious in an industry involving late nights, intoxicating substances, and professional relationships that are often exploited by men in positions of privilege.
Last fall, a collective of Minnesota artists released an album called #MeTooMPLS, featuring songs related to the #MeToo movement. In an interview about that project, singer-songwriter Annie Fitzgerald told Andrea Swensson, "Within our industry, there's no HR. That just doesn't exist, and I think that it would be lovely to start having broader conversations with venues and all the different facets of our industry around best practices and what people should expect and what artists should expect and have some kind of code of ethics that transpires around all of the things that have been happening."