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Feist quits Arcade Fire tour after band's frontman is accused of sexual misconduct

"I can't continue," singer Leslie Feist said after a bombshell report accused Arcade Fire's Win Butler of inappropriate sexual interactions and assault.
Image: Feist
Feist performs at L'Olympia on Sept. 5, 2018, in Paris, France. David Wolff - Patrick / Redferns file

Singer Feist announced Thursday she was leaving Arcade Fire’s tour following a bombshell report accusing the band’s frontman of sexual misconduct. 

Leslie Feist, who performs by her last name and hails from Canada, was a guest artist on indie rock band Arcade Fire's “We” Tour, which kicked off Tuesday in Dublin.

The band’s frontman, Win Butler, was accused by three women of inappropriate sexual interactions and of sexually assaulting a gender-fluid person, according to a Pitchfork report published Aug. 27. NBC News has not independently confirmed the reporting.

The allegations, which Butler has denied, prompted Feist to exit the tour, saying, “I can’t continue.”

“I’m imperfect and I will navigate this decision imperfectly, but what I’m sure of is the best way to take care of my band and crew and my family is to distance myself from this tour, not this conversation,” she said in a lengthy letter to her fans. 

The artist said she learned of the allegations when the report was published over the weekend.

“At a pub in Dublin, after rehearsing with my band, I read the same headline you did. We didn’t have any time to prepare for what was coming let alone a chance to decide not to fly across the ocean into the belly of this situation,” she said.

She said it has been “incredibly difficult” for her since the allegations against Butler surfaced. 

“To stay on tour would symbolize I was either defending or ignoring the harm caused by Win Butler and to leave would imply I was the judge and jury."

She stressed, “I was never here to stand for or with Arcade Fire — I was here to stand on my own two feet on a stage.” 

“We all have a story within a spectrum ranging from baseline toxic masculinity to pervasive misogyny to actually being physically, psychologically, emotionally or sexually assaulted,” Feist continued.

She said her latest performances ultimately prompted her to depart from the tour. 

“The last two nights on stage, my songs made this decision for me. Hearing them through this lens was incongruous with what I’ve worked to clarify for myself through my whole career," she wrote. "I’ve always written songs to name my own subtle difficulties, aspire to my best self and claim responsibility when I need to. And I’m claiming my responsibility now and going home.” 

Speaking on the accusers, she said, “More than anything I wish healing to those involved.”

Win Butler
Win Butler of Arcade Fire performs at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival on April 15, 2022, in Indio, Calif.Amy Harris / Invision / AP

Arcade Fire said in a statement to NBC News: “We are very sorry to see Leslie go home, but completely understand and respect her decision.”

Arcade Fire formed in 2001 and won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2010.

Butler is married to bandmate Régine Chassagne, with whom they share a son.

The Pitchfork report outlines the accusers' accounts of their interactions with Butler. Their names were not revealed.

The three women said their sexual interactions with Butler were inappropriate because of their age gap with the singer and power dynamics. The gender-fluid accuser claimed Butler assaulted them twice in 2015.

Butler, however, shared a different account of the interactions with the accusers to Pitchfork. Through a spokesperson for Risa Heller Communications, Butler denied the allegations, saying the interactions with all four accusers were consensual.

"I have never touched a woman against her will, and any implication that I have is simply false. I vehemently deny any suggestion that I forced myself on a woman or demanded sexual favors. That simply, and unequivocally, never happened," he said. "While these relationships were all consensual, I am very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behavior."

He explained that his wife knew of the relationships, saying: “The majority of these relationships were short lived, and my wife is aware — our marriage has, in the past, been more unconventional than some.”

He also noted that in his 30s he started drinking and suffered from heavy depression.

Chassagne also shared a statement saying, “I know what is in (Butler’s) heart, and I know he has never, and would never, touch a woman without her consent and I am certain he never did. He has lost his way and he has found his way back. I love him and love the life we have created together.”