ex-Absu guitarist Melissa Moore speaks out over being fired for being trans after band reforms as Apsu
Back in 2018, former Absu guitarist Melissa Moore said that she had been kicked out of the band for being transgender. Absu broke up earlier this year; they had previously announced an album called Apsu, which they'd been working on as far back as 2016, but hadn't released yet upon breaking up. Absu's lead vocalist and drummer (who formed the band in 1992 and was the only remaining original member) has now attached his name to a new project, Proscriptor McGovern’s Apsû, which signed to Agonia Records, with a new album due out later this year. Shortly after news of this was shared to social media, Melissa made a series of posts to her Facebook. In the first, she elaborates on the circumstances behind her ousting from Absu. "Proscriptor aka Russ Givens and Ezezu aka Paul Williamson are transphobes who threw me out of Absu like a piece of trash because I'm trans," she begins, continuing:
This is not the whole story, I'm just starting it here right now...it's really hard and painful for me. I need to find a way to talk about this in more detail
If they just recorded a full new 12 song album that's none of my business, but it'd be incredibly disappointing to learn that after kicking me out they still used my playing and songs. I hope that's not the case.
During our final tour in 2017 I told my bandmates that I'm trans. This was the moment everything changed between us. I didn't ask them to call me a different name or use different pronouns. I just let them know I was trans, and that's it. They started treating me like a pariah. Like, they didn't even want to share a hotel room with me. I figured their obvious negativity would resolve itself once the realization had time to settle. Nothing was different about my performance in the band or my quality as a person.
Shortly after that, Russ fired me in a text message (attached). When he references "your decision" he's talking about my "decision" to transition.
After receiving this text I called Russ back and told him he couldn't use my playing or my songs on the album we just recorded. His response: "Uh, why?" I said, "First tell me why you fired me," and his response was "You fired yourself...with your decision".
Russ said "You fired yourself...with your decision". Then I said "what the fuck are you talking about? my decision to not suffer in a fucking personal prison? you think I should go back into my cell and hide myself? I have nothing to hide. YOU are ashamed to be on a stage with me. Well I am ashamed to have my music associated with a little man like you. Why don't you get Paul to re-record the guitar on the songs he wrote, and leave my music completely out of this. I don't want any part of this..this is a fucking nightmare."
Then Russ said "Paul can't play like you. No one can. C'mon you are the best guitarist in the world. This is rock history we are making with this album" I'm literally not making this up. Then I said "And you just fired the person you consider to be the best guitarist in the world for coming out to you as trans. Way to have my back."
Russ replied "Absu is about barbarism and mysticism and blah blah blah...There is no place for a woman in this band"
I was like "Listen to your voice shake. you are a coward. Don't use my songs."
He said "I'll do whatever I want with your songs"
I said "See you in court"
end phone call from 2017.
To be honest the Transmisogyny overshadows the Transphobia.
To be continued...
Melissa has since spoken to Agonia Records, and posted another update:
Agonia Records said that none of my music is being used in any way. I’m surprised because until the bitter end my ex-band kept trying to sneak it through the old label Spinefarm/Candlelight (who did the right thing by not being willing to release an album under the self inflicted circumstances) This is a relief as I have plans for those songs. I will still tell this story in full. It’s been a heavy weight for 3 years and I’m sick of carrying it around. More later...
You can hear two songs from Melissa's current band, Sonja, below.