WARNING: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault some readers might find upsetting.
Mark Kozelek, the musician behind Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters, has been accused of sexual misconduct by three women. These allegations, reported by Pitchfork in a new investigative piece, include nonconsensual sexual encounters and exposing himself.
One of Kozelek’s accusers is Sarah Catherine Golden, a Los Angeles mental health specialist, who first met Kozelek on a flight to Portugal in November of 2017 and saw him perform that night. After talking for some time backstage, they went to Kozelek’s hotel room, where she claims he asked her to stay the night after offering to get her a cab back to her Airbnb. Pitchfork reports that Golden went to smoke on the balcony while he took a call in his room, and when he joined her outside, he was wearing just a T-shirt and underwear. After she told him she wasn’t interested, “his whole demeanor just changed”, Golden says.
She claims that Kozelek pushed the beds together and laid down on top of her. “At that point, I was kind of in shock,” Pitchfork reports her saying. “I told him I really needed to get a cab, if he could please just call for it.” After calling her a cab, she claims he started masturbating in front of her, as well as grabbing at her body and trying to kiss her. She also alleges that Kozelek forced him to touch his penis.
Though Golden didn’t report the incident to the police, she did text two friends about it the same day, both of whom confirmed her account to Pitchfork. Later, Kozelek wrote a song about the encounter called ‘Soap For Joyful Hands’, which appeared on his 2018 album This Is My Dinner. In the song, however, Kozelek never mentions anything sexual, claiming that they went their separate ways after having a conversation. “I feel like he totally flipped the script on that whole thing to make it seem like this woman is just some kind of groupie type who was pestering him, because she wants to get into the brain of this genius,” Golden says.
Pitchfork also reports allegations from woman identified under the pseudonym Andrea, who says she met Kozelek in September of 2014 at the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina – right around the time his Sun Kil Moon album Benji was garnering widespread critical acclaim. At the time, Kozelek was 47 years old, while Andrea was 19. She claims Kozelek gave her his number after a show and invited her to his hotel room after 1 a.m. Afterwards, Kozelek allegedly took a bath with the bathroom door open, then dropped his towel and “pretty much pounced on” her. “I didn’t have the courage to be like, No, that wasn’t okay, and that’s not what I wanted to do,” she said, adding that she texted a friend the next day saying that it “wasn’t really consensual.”
Andrew reportedly continued a long-distance relationship with Kozelek for the next three months, alleging that though some sexual acts were consensual, he often pressured her into others where “the lines [were] really blurred,” including instances of public sex with which she was uncomfortable. “I feel like our sexual relationship, every encounter was him trying to find another thing he could do, and not in a way where he asks for consent or permission,” Andrea said.
A third woman, a female musician who declined to be named, also alleged that Kozelek invited her and another female musician to his hotel room after a show in 2014 and “acted inappropriately,” according to Pitchfork.
Kozelek has showcased controversial and often misogynistic behaviour in the past, particularly towards female journalists. In 2015, he referred to someone as a “spoiled bitch rich kid blogger brat” in his song ‘War on Drugs: Suck My Cock’; Allison Hussey, now a writer for Pitchfork, read the song as referring to herself following a negative review of his performance at Hopscotch 2014. That same year, he called Laura Snapes, now deputy music editor for the Guardian, a “bitch” journalist who “totally wants to fuck me” while onstage.
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, we encourage you to reach out for support:
Crisis Text Line (chat support)
UK: Rape Crisis