Do men who apologise for sexual harassment get their careers back? Jack Revill, the Scottish DJ known as Jackmaster, certainly hopes so.
It's the middle of a July afternoon and Revill and I are sitting in the basement club of a restaurant near London Fields, a park in Hackney. It's musky and damp, and harsh overhead lights illuminate the space around us. Revill, who's wearing a pristine white button-down and a healthy glow, looks slightly out of place.
As we talk, he's visibly anxious. His eyes are wide and he's fiddling with a pen and a piece of paper with typed-out notes. He's quick to emphasise he's brought the notes not because he has a script, but because what we're here to talk about is difficult, and he needed to get his thoughts in order before we spoke. "The shame and the guilt I feel from this…" he starts, before trailing off. "I find it really hard to even talk about it because I'm just so ashamed."
This is the first interview Revill has given since he was accused of sexual harassment at Love Saves The Day festival in May of 2018. Female staff members at the Bristol festival allege that, after coming off stage, Revill – who was high on the class C drug GHB at the time – attempted to grab and kiss them against their will. In a statement given to Resident Advisor, one of the victims said, "Jack's behaviour on the night towards me crossed the boundaries of acceptability, regardless of the fact he was clearly off his head." Revill subsequently issued a statement to the same website in which he admitted his behaviour had been "abusive" and that he had "acted lewdly and inappropriately towards numerous members of staff" during a "drug-induced blackout".
Ever since, Revill's career has been on hiatus, as the DJ has focused on making amends. We're here to talk about what happens next.
A few hours after his set at the festival, Revill tells me, he woke up on the floor in a trashed hotel room. He'd been sedated, and when he came to, a friend recounted the events of the night before. "My heart sank," he says.
It's been over a year since that night, and Revill can only recall snippets of what happened. The last thing he remembers is picking up a female festival worker in what he says he intended to be a "jokey way", and dropping her, resulting in her injuring her arm.
When he was told that he proceeded to grab the woman and try to kiss her – and that he then "bounced from woman to woman trying to kiss them" – he says he just didn't believe it. "One of the first things I did was phone up one of the women and point-blank deny it," he says. Revill regrets that now. As we talk, despite still not remembering the events firsthand, he describes the staff members' account as fact.
The truth of what actually happened – including the parts that don't paint him in the best light – is something Revill does want to clear up.
In August of 2018, three months after the harassment, he posted a vague statement on his Facebook page in which he said he had "behaved inappropriately and offensively to staff at the event whilst heavily intoxicated". The lack of details sent the internet rumour mill into overdrive, and theories circulated online and in industry circles about what had really happened.
There was one rumour that he defecated in a kettle. That morphed into a conspiracy theory that it was actually Revill's team who cooked up the kettle story to deliberately obfuscate the real nature of what he'd done. Revill denies all of this. He says he's disturbed by the rumours that came out in the days and weeks after the event, but recognises that by not issuing a clear enough statement at the time he inadvertently fanned the internet flames.
"There was a rumour on the internet that I broke a girl's arm out of force. That isn't true," he says. He tells me that hurting women at all, let alone by force, was something he thought he was incapable of doing. To hear he did it in a drug-induced haze shocked him into finally addressing his GHB problem.
"My drug abuse was fine with me personally, when I was hurting myself," he said. "Even when I put myself in a coma and selfishly put my brother, family members and close friends through having to watch me nearly die. But the moment that I hurt other people – I hurt these women – that's very hard for me to reconcile with myself."
By the time of the harassment, Revill already knew he was addicted to GHB. He'd tried to stop a number of times before. For his 30th birthday, Revill threw a party for thousands of people in Glasgow. He collapsed on stage after taking the drug and an ambulance was called. "I had a tube down my throat, and this was all in front of my younger brother, who was in tears thinking I was going to die," he says.
After his 30th, Revill stopped taking drugs for a while, but ended up relapsing. The night of the assault was supposed to be another "last big night" before getting clean again. His girlfriend at the time had given him an ultimatum: it was either her or the GHB. So, he says, he intended to finish up the last of his stash and be done with it. As it turned out, that night would be the last time he took GHB.
As Revill explains all of this to me, he keeps returning to a central fact that he repeats like a mantra: "I chose to put that bottle of GHB to my lips," he says. "This is all my fault."
Revill didn't face any legal consequences for his actions. Shortly after the festival, he arranged to meet with the victims and the festival staff to offer a face-to-face apology and discuss how to move forward. During that meeting, he offered to hand himself over to the police, but the victims said they didn't feel that was necessary. They said they felt a public apology, detailing the events as they happened, was in order. Revill agreed and gave a detailed statement to Resident Advisor in August of 2018. In May of this year, he posted another statement on his Facebook page in which he talked about how he'd made "significant changes to address the destructive parts" of his lifestyle, by taking "an extended period out".
So far, time served has come in the form of a self-imposed time-out – or cancelled career, depending on how you look at it. When I ask Revill how long is long enough until he can have his career back, he tells me he's finding it very difficult to move forward: "People keep telling me to move on from this, but it's on my mind all the time."
As we talk about the mechanics of getting his career back together, he darts back and forth between the practicalities of what a fresh start would look like – a rider with no booze on it – and the guilt he feels at contemplating a second chance after sexual impropriety.
"I've always wanted to stand against misogyny and I've been vocal about it in the music industry. After what's happened, I feel like I'm not able to stand for those causes because I'm a hypocrite and people will just laugh me out of town," he says.
Taking time off gave Revill space to pick through the layers of complicated feelings this situation brought up for him. Much of what he's been doing this past year has involved introspection – he's gone to therapy and AA, and has done the Hoffman Process, an intensive personal development programme whose alumni include Goldie and GQ editor Dylan Jones.
He tells me the substance abuse got worse as his career got bigger. The more plaudits he collected, the harder he found being a DJ. "I've always just felt like I've found myself in these big shoes that I'm not ready to fill," he says. "It's the best job in the world, being a DJ. I've always thought that to admit that I wasn't maybe having the best of times, or to ask for help, was a bit 'get the violins out', kind of thing."
We also talk about his mother, who died of alcohol-related complications when he was 14, and who raised him to respect women. "I've betrayed her memory and feel like I've let her down," he says.
It's difficult for Revill to say, but he's doing all this work in part because he wants his job back. He loves music – it's been his outlet since childhood. At the same time, he only wants his career back if it's on the right terms with the victims. "There's no handbook for this," he says.
As the #MeToo movement moves into a new phase – one in which we have to live with what comes after the allegations – men who've been accused haven't figured out a way to apologise properly and, as a society, we haven't figured out who to let back in and on which terms. Harvey Weinstein continues to deny all the allegations against him. Some, like Louis CK and Neil deGrasse Tyson, who have apologised, have been criticised for doing it terribly.
Rather than let the court of public opinion decide who's served enough time, perhaps the best barometer we have is what the victims of abuse themselves feel. Revill's victims declined to be interviewed specifically for this story, and instead issued the following statement: "The position of the festival and its staff who were affected by Jack's behaviour on the night is that Jack has directly apologised to them, he's taken time out to work on himself and undertaken to never repeat this behaviour towards anyone else in future. He has our staff and the festival's support in working towards these aims and his own future happiness."
On the few occasions that Revill has been to a club in the last year, men have come up to him and told him what he did wasn't that bad; something they see happening down the pub most Friday nights. "It's really important for me not to go, 'Thanks, man. Yeah, no, it wasn't that bad,' because it was that bad – it was fucking out of order," he says. "It's that kind of attitude that's stopping us from making progress."
He says that in order for the culture that normalises this behaviour to change, men need to stand up and admit wrongdoing. "Every woman knows another woman who has been raped or sexually assaulted," he says. "Not every man knows another man who's going to be honest and say that they may have done that."
Revill has realised this past year that occupying the higher echelons of the dance music industry means taking responsibility as a role model. What he's found a lot harder, however, is accepting that his own fans might be part of the problem.
"There's definitely a big section of my fanbase that you would file under the 'lad culture' banner," he says. In her statement to RA last year, one of the victims said the response to Revill's initial statement was "sickening". She said the fact it was "hijacked by untruths and lad humour" is symptomatic of UK culture in a wider sense, and highlights "why it is so important for Jack to clarify what happened" at the festival.
"For a long time I have not been projecting positive messages," Revill says. "If there's going to be any change, it all has to start from men. Men have to be prepared to check their mates when they make even the mildest of misogynistic comments."