James Murphy addresses ousting of DFA Records co-founder Jonathan Galkin

James Murphy has responded to his fellow DFA Records co-founder Jonathan Galkin after he was dismissed from the label by Murphy in July 2020.

The LCD Soundsystem frontman co-founded the label with Galkin and Tim Goldsworthy in 2001, with Galkin running DFA “whole hog” in recent years, according to Murphy.

In a recent interview with writer Shawn Reynaldo for his weekly First Floor newsletter, Galkin revealed that he was dismissed by Murphy last summer.

“One day I came to work and the [DFA building’s] locks were changed,” Galkin recalled. “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.”

Galkin claimed that he was “barred from communicating with anyone” at DFA after he was ousted, adding: “It felt like a wrestling move, where you get into the ring and are immediately stunned by your opponent. There was no conversation, literally nothing.”

Murphy has now responded to Galkin’s account in a new interview with Pitchfork in which he gave reasons for the latter’s dismissal and confirmed that he had indeed changed the locks at DFA’s office.

While he didn’t cite a specific incident that prompted Galkin’s dismissal, Murphy did express concern over the financial state of DFA and said that he feared the label “was going to collapse” and was “not fulfilling what [he] believe[s] are its ethical duties to its artists”.

LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy
LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy (Picture: Getty)

Recalling how he called Galkin to tell him he was “out”, Murphy said: “I remember the feeling that I was doing it, and it’s awful. But after some time to reflect, he could listen back to what I had said to him. ‘Well, how are you going to retire? How is this going to work out? What’s the future gonna look like?’

“I had to do that and he knows why, and if he doesn’t know why, it’s because he just didn’t listen,” Murphy continued. “But I explained really clearly why he had to go… After the initial shock – which you’d have to be bloodless not to be shocked, because it was pretty much out of nowhere – I just called him up and I was like, ‘This can’t go on’. And I told him, ‘Don’t go to the office, we’re going to figure out your exit’. And he said, ‘OK’.

“And I had changed the locks because I felt that he would go to the office. So an hour later he called me and said, ‘You changed the locks?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m glad I changed the locks’.”

Murphy added: “It sucked, it felt like I was stabbing my friend in the back, but I knew he’d go in and I didn’t want him to go in. And I’m not going to say why. Why he had to go is between me and him, and why I changed the locks is between me and him, unless he wants to share it. But I have no interest in shitting on Jon.”

In response to Murphy’s comments, Galkin subsequently told Pitchfork that “there is a case to be made [that] the label would collapse in time”. However, he also argued: “There is also a strong case to be made that with actual teamwork from the partners, all in the same room, going over the artists and accounting and release schedules and catalogue, etc., the label would have been fine.”

Galkin added that he’s “unsure what [Murphy] is alluding to” in regards to why he changed the locks. “I literally went in to get my laptop charger.”

James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem performs at the Lisbon Coliseum on June 19, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal. CREDIT: Pedro Gomes/Redferns

Pitchfork also reports that Galkin sued Murphy, label partner Tyler Brodie and DFA LLC for breach of contract, fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment and more in August 2020. The suit was, however, voluntarily discontinued by Galkin’s attorneys the following month.

Galkin has since set up a new label, FourFour Records, who are set to release the new album by former DFA artists Black Dice on Friday (October 1).

Galkin told Reynaldo that his dismissal from DFA was followed by his “immediate concern [for] all of the artists who were stuck in the middle”, adding that he “wanted to get them out of the burning building, so I took a bunch of the unfinished albums and began setting up my own label”.

Murphy told Pitchfork that he gave Galkin his blessing to take any unfinished DFA records and release them on FourFour (including “records that DFA paid all the recording costs on”), and claimed that he offered to give Galkin money to start his new label.

Galkin, however, dismissed Murphy’s claims: “There was no blessing…. 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.”

Back in July Murphy confirmed that LCD Soundsystem are currently “on a full hiatus”.