When Ezra Miller hit up music producer Oliver Ignatius to help him work on a new musical project in February, Ignatius wasn’t immediately enticed. After all, he had a bunch of sessions booked for the next few months at his Holy Fang Studios in New York. But he knew Miller since they were teens and decided to make an exception.
He never imagined that Miller, according to him, would steal the music they worked on and post it to his social media without credit months later.
Something was off from the beginning, Ignatius says. Ignatius noticed Miller going through a dark moment and agreed to join the project as a main producer, but also as a “musical and spiritual life raft” for a friend. “They seemed to be heading out into deep waters,” he tells Rolling Stone. “They were going through a scorched earth-type fallout with their Hollywood career. They were severing many of the relationships in their life and seemed to be on a very dangerous spiral.”
With that in mind, Ignatius says he and Miller met up intermittently in both the Northeast and Hawaii to work on the project, weeks before Miller’s first arrest following erratic behavior at an island bar. “It was like pulling teeth,” Ignatius says of the process. But they continued working since Ignatius believed that the end result would be worth it. “We all had high hopes that it was going to be a project that was beautiful, that was going to be meaningful for us,” Ignatius says. “But it didn’t really pan out that way.”
Ignatius says he took the project home and continued working on the handful of songs they had written and produced together. Along with making production tweaks, he added a verse from Philadelphia-based rapper Ghais Guevara, whose music Ignatius had played for Miller. “They sent me a groovy instrumental that had Ezra’s vocal samples,” Guevara tells Rolling Stone. Miller’s reaction matched in excitement. “They were like ‘Fuck, this is insane. This is really good.’ That type of shit,” Guevara explains.
With Guevara’s rap now featured on a track and some songs almost done, Ignatius says he regrouped with Miller for some finishing touches. “I went in with some trepidation,” Ignatius says, referring to Miller’s several arrests due to alleged violent, erratic behavior on the island.
At that meetup, Ignatius says things took a dark turn after he introduced a song he wrote about a female friend who was murdered by her husband. The track, he says, was an “attempt to examine patriarchal violence with grace” but upon listening to it, Miller reacted with an “aggressive temper tantrum.”
“They were completely triggered by the song which totally freaked me out because basic feminism is a really hard line. If we don’t agree that violence by a man against a woman isn’t something worth speaking on, then we don’t agree on much,” Ignatius says. “Ezra’s behavior throughout this exchange was atrocious, belligerent, threatening, and incredibly aggressive.”
That night, Ignatius says he “politely quit” the project on moral grounds. And overnight, Miller leaked the unfinished raw music in its entirety, including songs the actor wasn’t even a part of. Miller posted a link to a SoundCloud playlist with the songs in their Instagram bio under the pseudonym, “Negative Ghost Rider.”
“What Ezra did was commit an … extremely unethical and hurtful act,” he says. “They stole from artists that have fewer resources than them but maybe have art that Ezra wants… The person I thought I knew was a much gentler soul than the person that we’re seeing right now. It’s been a very concerning journey.” (A lawyer for Miller did not reply to a request for comment.)
Guevara and Ignatius are speaking up now because they want to receive credit for their work — and want to prevent Miller from doing anything like this again. Earlier this week, Guevara — who was featured on “Thinkin’ Bout a Story” — tweeted a thread sharing his experience with Miller. “I’m posting this just to say if you are an Ezra stan, just know that the music they’re involved in isn’t a result of their own work,” he wrote. “Especially the song that has MY verse in it.”
Though Guevara was paid for his feature on the work, Ignatius says he now plans to take Miller to court in order to have them take the unfinished music down — alongside possibly further damages — since as a producer, he says he owns the song’s masters. Ignatius says he’s heard from Miller since the incident, but declined to share more about the interaction, “because it’s personal and nothing good nor conciliatory.”
Regardless, both musicians say they wish Miller the best. And Ignatius hopes that Miller gets the “mental health they clearly need” but said he doesn’t condone the theft of his or anyone else’s music.
“I’ve seen parts of their personality that I can’t unsee now. I can’t go back to believing that they’re not this person that I now know them to be,” he says. “I don’t want anything from them other than to be left alone and stop stealing my art and my intellectual property.”
“Not to be dramatic, but to be dramatic, I feel artistically and spiritually raped by what just happened,” he says. “It simply can never happen again.”