And so the oft-bemused back and forth between unwitting Contra cover model Ann Kirsten Kennis and the band she’s suing, Vampire Weekend, continues. VW singer Ezra Koenig commented on the controversy last week via emoticon; Kennis, meanwhile, spoke from behind the shield of a lawyer. Now though, Koenig and his label, XL, seem to be opening up a bit more about the lawsuit. And keeping a journal about the whole thing! As the band’s frontman told NME today: “I think I can speak for all of us and say this is the first time any of us have ever been sued, so we’re still learning how it works…there’s so many things we could say about it but given we have no experience of it we’re just keeping conversations to a journal for now, which is a little frustrating.”
Koenig also told the British music mag: “We’re not trying to be mysterious. I imagine in the next few months there’ll be plenty to talk about. Given it’s our first time we just want to do it properly.” Vampire Weekend’s label, XL, have now also issued a statement:
As is standard practice, Vampire Weekend and XL Recordings licensed the rights to use the photo on the cover of Contra pursuant to a license agreement that contains representations and warranties authorizing this use of the photo. Now that a lawsuit has been filed, we look forward to having the matter resolved in court. We will be filing our response after we have had an opportunity to review the allegations. Consistent with our practice, we will not be commenting further about the pending litigation at this time.
Much of the controversy here stems from the middleman in the deal, a photographer named Tod Brody, who either did or did not falsify Kennis’s signature on a release for a photo he may or may not have even had the rights to in the first place. Some have suggested Brody is a pretty shady character. And indeed, the internet is rife with things like the Tod Brody Fraud Blog, a Tumblr that dates back to before Kennis’s lawsuit. From the description at the top of it:
A blog of dealings with Tod Brody aka Tod Scott Brody. Tod Brody in my opinion is a con-man who presents himself as a producer, film maker, and photographer in order to gain income through deceiving others. Also be aware that if you are currently renting an apartment to Mr. Brody you will more than likely receive your rent in bad checks. If you have a story about your experience with Tod Brody that you would like posted to this site please email the text to firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s just say the evidence presented on said blog–mostly, a series of segments produced by a late-night Danish television show called Den 11–is less than convincing. Brody, for his part, told EW last week that “I took the photo in 1983. The photo was in my possession the entire time, for 26 years, until it was delivered to Vampire Weekend.”
Brody seems to have been in court before: read, if you dare, this incredibly involved chronicle of wrongdoing, suits, and countersuits relating to an apparently never-made movie called The Old Cemetery and the porno actress who was briefly set to star in it. There also appears to have been some beef surrounding HBO’s Americanos: Latino Life in the United States, which Brody did post-production on.
What this all adds up to is exactly nothing, except perhaps the revelation that out of the three parties involved in this lawsuit, the rock band may be the most sane. Except maybe in their secret, rage-filled lawsuit journal.