Julian Casablancas Releases Unedited Interview with Dev Hynes, Apologizes for White People

By Sameer Rao Sep 21, 2015

Update, September 22, 2015 at 12:31 PM

Oyster Magazine put out a statement on Sunday saying that they did not censor Dev Hynes or Julian Casablancas, saying that the transcript they received from Casablanca’s PR firm did not include many of the racism-focused portions. You can read that statement here


Prolific British musician and singer Dev Hynes, through a number of high profile public incidents, has become a bit of an unwilling spokesman for racial justice in the indie music community. So when a conversation for Oyster Magazine between him and long-time friend Julian Casablancas, a solo musician well-known as the lead singer for The Strokes, had its more personal content edited out (particularly the sections addressing racism), he spoke out in no uncertain terms:

You had a chance to really add to something, and show people that there are real conversations taking place in the world right now, but you chose otherwise. And prove yet again that the censorship of a free speaking Black man is of less value to you than retweets.

Casablancas recognized the injustice done by Oyster and took the opportunity to publish the full, unedited interview on his own website. The whole conversation is worth a read, but the following passage stuck out as particularly revealing: 

D: My passport held on a layover flight in Germany. He went through it and peeled off the corner in front of me cause he was like “Is this fake!” And then it was a damaged passport and I had to get a new one. Shit like that.

J: How are you not just a heroin addict?

D: No, seriously. I am…but no no. They took out my electronics and were asking, “Do you know the day that you bought all of this stuff?” Like an ipad and shit. Like “no? Of course not.” But anyway, I could go on forever. So Smash Mouth or Live?

J: I’m so sorry man. I apologize on behalf of white people, we’re the worst. I’m just. I don’t know. How to atone is the question. I don’t understand why there is any kind of question about reparations and all that. It seems like such a no-brainer.

D: Yeah.

J: Yet somehow it seems like it’s already off the table, taboo.

D: Yeah.

J: It’s maybe more American politics, but… I just. Ahh man. Maybe like more cultural exchange programs or something?

D: Anything!

J: to live in some other ethnicity’s world…Cause I think when you see the other side of things it’s less weird and you get more understanding… this is just going a level beyond, I guess, maybe just forgive me if I’m sounding stupid, but its almost not even racism a lot of the time, it’s almost more culturalism? I feel like, you might not like something about someone else’s culture, but then it has nothing to do with race or genetics.

D: Yeah

J: But some people think, “Oh ‘they’ always do this,” but, yeah there are micro-subtle differences, but there’s way more differences with blood types, I think. So it’s really way more a cultural thing. I was thinking of Germany too – we were just there on tour. it’s almost like having a yellow star sometimes, to be black. And I think the big problem… not the biggest problem, but one of the top problems is that people don’t even acknowledge it in this day and age.

D: Exactly

J: it’s this shameful, I don’t even know what to do…You need a massive public awakening. Massive public awakening, anyone?

D: Album title.

J: Sorry, I apologize to speak on things that I…

D: No, no, it’s good.

While Casablancas is far from a critical theory scholar and doesn’t demonstrate tremendous knowledge of things like intersectional analysis or privilege (at least, not knowledge that he’s open about, given that a tremendous part of his career involved downplaying his own origins as the son of entertainment mogul John Casablancas), the empathy in his relationship with Hynes is evident. Here’s hoping he can become a voice of the "massive public awakening" in his own music.

(H/t Stereogum