Singer Dev, real name Devin Star Tailes – best known over here for her sampled vocals on Far East Movement’s ‘Like A G6’ and her guest vocals on JLS’s ‘She Makes Me Wanna’ – is suing her record label, whose owners became her manager, along with her former lawyer, asking that her record contract is declared “null and void”. Tailes claims that in 2008, then aged eighteen, she was tricked into signing a deal with Indie-Pop Music by its owners Benjamin Willis and Carlo Fox and lawyer Joshua Andriano. The deal also positioned Willis and Fox as her managers and was, legal papers filed this week say, “one-sided”, seeing Dev sign away 75% of her income from recordings, publishing, merchandise and touring. The suit adds that she later felt “pressured and manipulated” into signing amended agreements in 2011 and then again this year.
The lawsuit argues that the men used “flattery and praise [and] made lofty statements to her regarding her future career, and manipulated her into believing that she could trust them fully”. However, it adds, she was never offered the opportunity of independent legal advice, and the contract extends beyond the seven year maximum allowed under Californian law.
The document states: “On or about 6 June 2008, defendants gave Tailes an onerous, one-sided agreement for her to sign (the ‘purported 2008 agreement’), and represented to her that it would allow defendants to serve as her ‘manager’. Defendants did not provide plaintiff with independent legal counsel to review the agreement, or give her legal advice regarding it. Defendants knew that plaintiff did not have any independent legal counsel of her own, and represented to her that defendant Andriano was a licensed attorney and would look out for her legal interests. Plaintiff – only eighteen years old and with only a high school education – did not understand the terms of the document put before her to sign”.
It adds: “Moreover, since mid-2008, defendants have been deducting excessive expenses ‘off the top’ of Tailes’ income, before Tailes is paid, and many of the expenses charged are unwarranted and not standard in the industry. As a result of defendants’ actions, Tailes has received a very small percentage of her income, and defendants have paid themselves the lion’s share”.
Dev is now seeking termination of the contract, full accounts of her earnings while working under it, and compensation on the grounds of breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud, professional negligence, legal malpractice and unfair business practices. The label has not commented on the lawsuit.