Krewella Open Up About Their Breakup With Kris “Rainman” Trindl: “The Truth Is Very Ugly”
Read the full story by Michelle Lhooq at thump.vice.com
It is one of those comically beautiful afternoons in May when the sidewalks of Manhattan are drenched in gold and somehow don't smell like piss. Even the two chronically grouchy men outside a corner store in the East Village have uncrossed their arms and are smiling at the stream of sun-drunk pedestrians walking by—including Krewella bandmates and sisters Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf, both dressed in body-hugging, all-black outfits from a recent shopping trip to VFILES. Aged 26 and 24 respectively, they've just stepped out from the shadows of a restaurant next door, and are scanning Avenue A for a scenic spot where our photographer can take some pictures for this interview. Suddenly, Yasmine's eyes light up.
"Tompkins Square Park! It's like the Mumford and Sons song!" she says, pointing at a metal placard with a hand covered in snaking tattoos, her brown eyes wide with childlike glee. Without a hint of self-consciousness, she starts singing sweetly, "Oh babe, meet me in Tompkins Square Park..." Jahan, whose angular cheekbones stands in contrast to Yasmine's baby-faced features, joins in with a sardonic grin: "I wanna hold you in the dark..." Clutching each other's elbows, the sisters double forward in contagious laughter.
Learning to laugh at themselves hasn't always been easy for Jahan and Yasmine, who for the last two years have been subject to intense online scrutiny due to a highly publicized—and very ugly—legal battle with former bandmate Kris "Rainman" Trindl, who left the group in 2014. (Trindl and Jahan also dated from 2006 to 2011.)
Back in 2012, Jahan, Yasmine and Kris were the new faces of the burgeoning EDM movement—charismatic poster kids for rolling face to nasty dubstep drops, thrashing your wet hair against thousands of sweaty strangers, and giving in to every impulse. The Yousafs acted as the group's vocalists and songwriters, while Trindl produced the beats. Together, they developed a trademark sound that hijacks every nerve in your body and blasts you into a confetti cannon of mindless euphoria: sweet and synthetic pop hooks floating over chainsaw basslines that sound like Transformers kicking each other in the testicles. The video for one of their early hits, "Alive,"—which currently has 53 million views on YouTube—follows a group of hot teens hooking up amidst an apocalyptic demolition derby. It perfectly sums up their visual brand: dirty, playful, sexy, unstoppable.
After winning an International Dance Music Award in 2012 for "Best Breakthrough Artist," the trio headlined major festivals like Ultra, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Stereosonic. Their 2013 debut album, Get Wet—which mixed hardstyle, electro, and dubstep with stadium rock, and featured guests like Blink-182's Travis Barker and Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump—reached #1 on Billboard's US Dance charts. At a time when main stages were dominated by Tiesto, Hardwell, Martin Garrix, Zedd, Avicii, and Disclosure, the Yousafs—who proudly talk about growing up in a Muslim family with a Pakistani father—felt like refreshing outlier next to the brigade of bland white men in black V-necks. They were also one of the few female-fronted acts in a male-dominated scene—like Nervo, but more raw.
Krewella's fiery rise sputtered out in March 2014, when Trindl missed a flight to headline at Electric Daisy Carnival in Mexico City. According to Jahan and Yasmine's countersuit, this final straw prompted them to stage an intervention in an attempt to curb a drinking problem they said Trindl had developed in tandem with the band's rising profile. Per court documents THUMP obtained, Trindl refused to enter a treatment program, and in September 2014, he sued Jahan and Yasmine for $5 million, alleging that he'd been unfairly removed from the group and cut out of his equal share of their future revenue. In the transcript from his lawsuit, Trindl admitted he drank to deal with the pressure of success, and accused the sisters of not being supportive of his sobriety following an earlier stint in rehab in 2013, stating that they "didn't like the new, sober Kris" and "thought he was depressed." Trindl also claimed that the girls only wanted him to check into a facility so so they could establish themselves as a duo, squeeze him out of the group, and make more money for themselves going forward.
In November 2014, the Yousafs countersued, claiming in their lawsuit that it had been Trindl's choice to resign. They also noted that Trindl had refused to learn how to DJ for their live shows, wasn't holding up his end of production duties due to missed studio sessions, and had acted belligerently on tour due to his alcohol abuse. The spat quickly got messy after the court documents circulated by the Hollywood Reporter. The media started obsessively scrutinizing every new development in the story, with TMZ salaciously reporting that Trindl had been "forced out" for "being too sober." At one point in 2014, the fallout became the number one trending topic on Facebook. Deadmau5 jumped in with a sexist Tweet, advising would-be trios like Krewella not to "fire the guy who actually does shit."