R&S Records, the stalwart techno label that has released music by Aphex Twin, James Blake, Nicolás Jaar, and more, is being sued for racial discrimination, the BBC reports. In employment tribunal papers filed in London, former talent scout Raj Chaudhuri alleges unfair dismissal, citing discrimination by founder Renaat Vandepapeliere. The label denies the claims.
In the papers, Chaudhuri says his repeated attempts to “diversify the label” and its roster met resistance and dismissive text messages, according to the BBC. He says one artist posted to Facebook an image of Hitler captioned, “You should have listened.” Vandepapeliere allegedly refused to sever ties with the artist, responding, “Remove his track? No way. Inform him of the danger—yes.” Chaudhuri says that when he continued to express unease, he was told to “relax a bit.” He also argues that, in his opinion, Vandepapeliere canned an NHS charity album due to a prejudice against the Black and non-binary musicians featured.
Chaudhuri says his yearlong employment by the label ended with “no warning” last September, around the time Vandepapeliere clashed with R&S artist Eddington Again, the BBC reports. At the time, Vandepapeliere explained the label’s lack of diversity with a series of controversial comments. “I sign music I can find—I don’t sign color mate,” read one. In another, Vandepapeliere wrote of a recently signed Black artist: “I hope I have found a full pure breed black artist that I can spend my life with in full focus.” (He later apologized for the content of the leaked emails.) The label terminated Eddington Again’s contract by mutual agreement. Paul Woolford, aka Special Request, and Lone subsequently ended their relationships with the label, the BBC reports.
In a rebuttal, R&S, which says it has not yet been served the claim, characterized Chaudhuri as a “disgruntled” freelancer who tried to “blackmail” the label for £10,000 ($13,850), according to the BBC. The claim relates to the amount Chaudhuri requested to be paid for the remainder of his terminated contract, and a threat to reveal Vandepapeliere’s “discriminatory conduct” if he did not receive it. Label co-founder Sabine Maes, who is Vandepapeliere’s wife, told the BBC: “Mr Renaat Vandepapeliere is certainly not racist and everyone at R&S Records embraces equality.”