After staying notably silent for over a week, Hermit’s Victory frontman Tyler Bertges admitted Tuesday morning to drawing the racially charged “slave baby,” which was posted on Instagram by his band’s label on Sept. 19.
Hearts & Plugs, which functions as both a record label and music collective for several S.C. artists, posted a photo of Bertges’s drawing with intent to promote a show at The Commodore. The photo included a caricature drawing of an African-American infant with a chain attached to its leg. Next to the drawing were the words “Slave Baby,” meant to be a play on the band Brave Baby’s name.
Hearts & Plugs director Dan McCurry issued an apology for posting the photo on Thursday.
But no one had come forward as the person who drew the drawing, until Bertges posted a lengthy message on the Hermit’s Victory band page Tuesday.
The majority of the post explains why he has remained silent for so long, despite many musicians’ and activists’ call for the person responsible to come forward.
“‘Not my fault’ I said to myself. ‘Racist joke. crowded room,’” he wrote midway through the post.
He later states his remorse for having this sort of mentality and apologizes for the harm he has caused.
“The purpose of my writing this is to genuinely offer a transparent look into my mind throughout the entirety of this unfortunate ordeal,” he explained. “I have been reading and listening to everyone’s input, and this is my way of sharing my reasoning with you, as flawed as my thought process may have been... I am receptive to hearing from those in the community who have been hurt most due to my senselessness and would love to learn how I can contribute to the very cause I ignorantly undermined.”
Moving forward, a group close to the music community including Anjali Naik of Diaspoura, members of the Very Hypnotic Soul Band and Charles Carmody of Charleston Music Hall are planning a public forum to discuss what the incident means for Charleston. The forum will be held 2 p.m. Sunday at Redux Contemporary Art Center in downtown Charleston.
“I look forward to participating in this forum and hope that we can have some positive conversations here that result in positive change for our community,” McCurry said of his involvement.
However, the future of Hearts & Plugs and its artists remains to be determined.
SUSTO frontman Justin Osborne told The Post and Courier Tuesday that they will not be releasing their next album, due in January, with Hearts & Plugs.
“When this happened it made us really angry and disappointed,” Osborne said. “So we cut ties with Hearts & Plugs and are now starting our own label called ACID BOYS.”
Columbia-based band E.T. Anderson stated in a Facebook post Sunday that they are stepping away from the label as well.
Another Hearts & Plugs artist, Amber Grace Joyner, made a Facebook post from her personal page Tuesday that said an announcement was soon to come about the music collective.
“Other artists on the label have chosen to leave H & P,” she added. “I will not be discussing my decision on this matter because I believe it to be no longer relevant.”
The Hearts & Plugs website appears to be down, but McCurry said that it should be directing to their Facebook page “since that seems to be more relevant in terms of news.”
“As far as the future of H&P goes, I can’t comment on that at this time,” he added in an email. “All I can say is that I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in the upcoming forum.”
Abigail Darlington contributed to this report.