James Murphy responds after co-founder Jonathan Galkin talks being ousted from DFA
Back in June, Black Dice announced a new album, Mod Prog Sic, which would be the first release on FourFour Records, the new label started by DFA Records founding partner Jonathan Galkin. This week, Galkin talked about the new label and his exit from DFA in a new interview with Shawn Reynaldo in the First Floor substack.
“One day I came to work and the [DFA building’s] locks were changed,” Galkin told Reynaldo. “It was a really sad day, and the only information I got was that the partnership—of which I was part as a minority owner—had made the decision to cut off the label. And then it got ugly, with lawyers involved.”
DFA cofounder and LCD Soundsystem bandleader James Murphy has also responded via an interview in Pitchfork. He said that while he and Galkin were friends, DFA had become unsustainable and changes had to be made. He confirmed Galkin was ousted in June 2020 and that the office locks were indeed changed. "It sucked, it felt like I was stabbing my friend in the back," Murphy told Pitchfork, but said that it had to be done, though he wouldn't say why.
Galkin responded to Pitchfork, agreeing that "there is a case to be made the label would collapse in time," but also saying it could have been "fine," and with regards to the lock-changing incident, saying he was unsure why Murphy had it done. “I literally went in to get my laptop charger,” he told Pitchfork.
Galkin took a few in-the-works projects for DFA with him to FourFour, including the Black Dice album, telling Reynaldo he had “immediate concern [for] all of the artists who were stuck in the middle.” Murphy told Pitchfork that he gave Jonathan, his blessing, and let him release “records that DFA paid all the recording costs on," which Galkin disputes."
There was no blessing," Galkin told Pitchfork. "I took no money from them, only the albums. And they were in various stages of completion. No, they did not ask me to reimburse the label for any expenses related to those albums. But in no way were they completed and paid for before I acquired them. Some were almost done and some were not done whatsoever.”
A few sticking points that may have led to all this: Murphy cites Jonathan letting longtime DFA group Holy Ghost! leave for another label (“They were also offered an arrangement to help revive West End Records and make it their own home. Why would a disco-history-loving artist like Holy Ghost! pass that up?” Galkin responded); and Galkin brings up being left in the dark as to LCD Soundsystem's reunion in late 2015.
As for what's next for both labels, Murphy says he wants to rethink DFA. "I wanted to get back to a little bit of classic DFA, where we released a lot less music," Murphy told Pitchfork. "We didn’t send weekly emails with mugs and shirts. I wanted to go quiet and rebuild and recenter on the community that DFA was."
Black Dice's new album Mod Prog Sic is out this Friday via FourFour and is so far the only announced release on the label, but stay tuned.
You can read the whole story, of which there is a lot of, over at Pitchfork.