“It's like a decade of intermittently receiving rape or death threats on the internet”: Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry speaks out on online abuse, cyber misogyny and the rise of deepfake technology

Lauren Mayberry
(Image credit: Lorne Thomson/Redferns/Getty Images)

Chvrches frontwoman Lauren Mayberry has been discussing the online abuse she’s suffered throughout her career, which has included rape and death threats.

Speaking to the BBC, Mayberry says that abuse began in earnest following the release of the video for Chvrches' 2015 single Leave a Trace, in which she wore a black mini dress.

Mayberry spoke out at the time about the level of cyber misogyny she was receiving and, in a new interview with BBC Radio 6 Music, conducted as part of the station’s Change The Tune initiative, she says that it’s still going on.

"It’s all very sexual and sexualised all the time,” she says. "And I look at that and I’m like, I was a 23-year-old girl, trying to do my job, just to write some silly songs. I didn't know. I didn't know that that was going to be such a big part of it."

Now 36 and embarking on a solo career, Mayberry also revealed that, at the start of 2021, she discovered that her likeness had been used in deepfake pornography.

"It just felt like another version of the same thing, if that makes sense,” she says. “And I do think that’s odd. It's like a decade of intermittently receiving rape or death threats on the internet.

"Even though people say 'It's not real, it's not real' Your brain does not perceive that, I don't think. The impact of it on your psychology, it doesn't really matter whether you think that's real."

Mayberry also highlighted the effect that the abuse has had on her, particularly when it came at a time when Chvrches couldn’t afford to hire security, despite the fact that she was receiving specific death threats that included details of venues of timings.

"Something like that was very scary and people saying to you 'oh it's just the internet, it’s probably not going to happen' doesn't really make you feel better when you have to go on stage.

"I definitely did a lot of panic crying before gigs and then I think I do remember us specifically getting to the end of that tour and it was the first time in the band that I was like, 'I'm gonna take two weeks off and I'm not going on my emails' - and I’m never not on my emails.

"I took two weeks off and went to a little remote location and cried a lot in baths."

Mayberry has also spoken about her experiences in the music industry in a new documentary, which UK users can watch on BBC iPlayer.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.