Artists back out of Japanese festival, The Labyrinth, following founder’s comments on trans issues

Surgeon, Carsten Jost, Imaginary Softwoods, and Timnah Sommerfeldt have all cancelled performances

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The Labrynth Festival 2022

The Labrynth Festival 2022 | Credit: / MNML SSG

A number of electronic artists including Surgeon, Carsten Jost, Imaginary Softwoods, and Timnah Sommerfeldt, have withdrawn from a festival in Japan, The Labyrinth, due to controversial comments made by its founder Russ “Monk” Moench on trans rights and related issues.

Moench has taken to Twitter – now X – in recent months to express his views on subjects such as gender pronouns and trans rights. In now-deleted posts, he criticised pronoun use, writing “the pronoun people are dumb”, and called TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminism) a form of “misogynistic hate speech”.

The festival founder also followed and engaged with gender-critical X accounts, such as Right Side of History. After facing backlash for these actions, he made his account private and has since deleted the account entirely.

On 30 August, after a trans activist reached out to some artists on the lineup notifying them of Moench’s views, the festival founder emailed nine artists set to perform at The Labyrinth, according to Resident Advisor. In his email, he criticised the trans rights movement as “illiberal and totalitarian,” alleging misogyny and homophobia.

According to RA, Moench expressed support for “detransitioners” and termed youth gender-affirming care as “gay transversion therapy,” claiming it creates lifelong pharmaceutical dependence.

Carsten Jost has been asked not to play at the festival by Moench after criticising the email.

Speaking to RA, Jost has said: “We owe respect and protection to those who have paved the way for what the underground techno scene is today, which is to a large extent due to a community of queer and trans people of colour.

“I believe in trans-inclusive intersectional feminism and that the underground music scene must continue to be a safe space for queer, trans and gender non-conforming people.”

The Labyrinth festival is still set to take place on 7 October at the Hodaigi Campground in the landlocked, mountainous region of the Gunma prefecture on Japan’s Honshu Island, despite these cancellations.

The finalised lineup is yet to be announced. If you’re attending, look out for updates via


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