2:40pm PT by Eriq Gardner
EDM Superstars Krewella Claim Kris Trindl Was 'Pretending to DJ,' Dispute His Sobriety
Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf, sisters in the popular EDM group Krewella, have reacted to a $5 million lawsuit filed by founding member Kris Trindl with a wildly different account of what caused his departure.
In September, Trindl went to Los Angeles Superior Court with his own story about what went wrong: Three individuals form a group out of an Illinois high school, swear on tattoos they would commit to Krewella and then fall apart. The story raised eyebrows throughout the electronic music scene because in Trindl's version of events, he went through pains to deal with alcoholism and after he got sober, the Yousaf sisters didn't like the fact that he wouldn't party anymore, mistook his condition for depression and began scheming to deny him membership in the group.
"Kris chose, unfortunately, to file what we believe to be a baseless lawsuit, and we have now responded with documents that set forth the true facts," says Richard Busch, attorney for the Yousaf sisters. "Everything we have to say about the matter is contained within these papers."
According to counterclaims filed on Friday, Krewella did indeed become popular, but because of drinking or another reason, Trindl failed to take initiative to really learn his craft.
"While on stage, Kris would generally stand to the side of Jahan and Yasmine and pump his arms, while pretending to DJ; he was onstage primarily for the sake of image," states the Yousaf court papers. "Because Kris did not know how to DJ, he only had two effect buttons."
The three allegedly agreed that Trindl — known as "Rain Man" — would become more involved in the live show by learning to DJ or to play a guitar, but that he'd show up inebriated onstage and cause trouble. For example, says the court documents, "Kris would recklessly use his controller to mess up Jahan and Yasmine’s mixing or would simply stop the music. Kris’s behavior became so disruptive that Yasmine would unplug and deactivate his equipment to limit the disruption; however Kris would be too intoxicated to notice."
The new court papers also say that Trindl received production credit for each of the 12 songs of the group's debut album, Get Wet, released on Columbia Records, but that he "only wholly contributed" one song, that there were at least four songs where he "did little to no production," minimal production on another, and that Krewella had to pay outside producers to help Kris finish the album.
The two sides at least agree that Trindl had an alcohol problem, though the plaintiff's papers present him as a talent that was recognized by others in the music industry while the defendant's papers highlight certain Trindl tweets like "New Year’s resolution: smoke more weed.”
The sharpest differences relate to the more recent months surrounding the circumstances in which the group members had a falling out.
The Yousaf sisters basically paint Trindl as unreliable. On one occasion last September, he allegedly promised to get "straight, sober and on top of my shit" only to fall off the wagon again, ordering eight drinks from a Paris hotel minibar just two months later. There's talk of breathalyzer tests, late arrivals and rehab. Finally, during the group's time as part of the lineup of the Verge Campus Tour this past April and May, a realization occurred that something needed to be done.
"Fans began to ask about where [Trindl] was and Jahan and Yasmine became worried about false advertising," say the counterclaims. "In an effort to properly represent the shows to their fans, all three members of Krewella mutually decided to only show Jahan and Yasmine on the flyers until Kris rejoined the tour." (Trindl began consulting with lawyers in April after he saw a billboard of the group without his presence.)
Then, there's the notable "intervention" that happened at manager Jake Udell's home last March.
According to Trindl's original lawsuit, he says he was told by others to go into rehab. "But it was not rehab for drinking, because Kris was staying sober," says the lawsuit. "They demanded he go into rehab for 'depression.' "
Compare that to what's said in the counterclaims.
"Kris was unaware of the intervention beforehand and at the intervention, it was apparent that he was not sober, with some commenting that they believed he was under the influence of marijuana," states papers from the Yousaf sisters. "Everyone read letters to Kris expressing their love and care for him and their concerns for his well being. Kris refused to go to the sixty day treatment plan and instead told everyone to 'F— off.' "
Both sides were soon in active negotiations about Trindl's future participation in the group and whether he should continue to get a one-third share. According to the newest counterclaims, he was getting that share until August, amounting to almost $1 million for the prior 12 months.
But the Yousaf sisters talk about the numerous shows he allegedly attended under the influence of drugs and alcohol, the 68 of 212 shows he missed from January 2013 to June 2014 when he allegedly resigned, his absence from studio sessions, his threats to sabotage shows and more.
"Kris’s actions were grossly negligent and he has violated his duty of care to Krewella Music LLC," say the counterclaims, which also seek a declaration that he has resigned, breached oral contracts and been unjustly enriched.
The Yousaf sisters are also attempting to throw out Trindl's claims as being insufficiently supported. For example, they say he has failed to allege the specific terms of those alleged oral contracts that the Yousafs allegedly breached.
Dina LaPolt, attorney for Trindl, responds, "Yes he's an alcoholic and an addict. The point that it took him a while to get sober doesn't give them right to arbitrarily throw him out and deny him his third share."
She defends her client's technical skills as a DJ and adds, "When they met, [the sisters] didn't know what a middle C was on the keyboard. They still don't. The only notes they know are bank notes."