Animal Collective amend artwork for 'People' and 2003 album's title to apologize for racial insensitivity
Animal Collective offered a wholehearted apology for their racial insensitivity and lack of respect for minorities in the past and pledged to make amends as they worked to correct their mistakes
The Baltimore-based experimental pop group Animal Collective have issued an apology for perpetuating racial stereotypes with their musical offerings thus far and have even made slight tweaks to the titles and artwork of their previous releases. Prior to releasing the band's discography on Bandcamp, on the occasion of music platform's third revenue-waiving day on July 3 (they waived revenue shares on May 1 and June 5 as well), the members of Animal Collective realized that they had to do more to help curb racial stereotypes and discrimination. Accordingly, they altered the cover art for their 2006 'People' EP which had previously depicted a Black mammy and also changed the title of their 2003 album from 'Here Comes The Indian' to the less controversial 'Ark'.
In a lengthy newsletter, which the band issued prior to the Bandcamp album releases, they detailed these new changes to their discography and also revealed that they would be releasing a new EP called 'Bridge to Quiet' with all proceeds going to five different nonprofit organizations. Animal Collective also offered a wholehearted apology for their racial insensitivity and lack of respect for minorities in the past and pledged to make amends as they worked to correct their previous mistakes.
The band started by announcing their new upcoming release on July 3: "Tomorrow, we are releasing a new EP called 'Bridge to Quiet'. During April and May, we took a look at some of our improvisations from 2019 and early 2020. We remixed them, collaged them, and built them into songs, finding our way to 'Bridge to Quiet'. We hope you enjoy it! It was a fun and cathartic process, which has actually pushed us to start a new project in the same fashion."
Animal Collective also revealed that their discography would now be available for streaming. "Along with 'Bridge to Quiet', a large majority of our catalog will be available on our new Bandcamp page as of tomorrow, Friday 7/3. All of our LPs will be there, as well as some deep cuts which haven’t been available digitally until now. However, with preparing our back catalog for release, there are a few things we felt important to address and correct."
The band members then apologized for their past transgressions, starting with the artwork of their 2006 EP 'People': "There is no way to excuse using a “mammy” on our artwork, and so we have decided to remove it. We understand now that using a racist stereotype at all causes more damage than an explanation can repair, and we apologize. Moving forward, we will be donating a portion of our royalties from this record to the Equal Justice Initiative."
They then moved on to another 2017 release: "The second is our 'Meeting of the Waters' EP. Brian and Dave recorded samples of the Tatuyo tribe in Brazil playing music for the Viceland program 'Earthworks', which were later incorporated into 'Meeting of the Waters'. When we released MOTW on Record Store Day we arranged for portions of those sales to go to IDESAM. As we were guests in their world, we feel it is only right to continue to show our gratitude. Moving forward we will be donating a portion of our royalties from this record to Cultural Survival."
Animal Collective then tackled the controversial title of their 2003 album: "We have to address our LP 'Here Comes the Indian'. With utmost respect to Indigenous people, we feel that having the word "Indian" in our record title sends the wrong message by objectifying the American Indian people which is not what we were intending with the music. Because we have drawn countless inspiration from Indigenous people in America and around the world, moving forward, we will be donating a portion of our royalties from this record to Seeding Sovereignty, and changing the title to its original working title, 'Ark'."
The band also pledged to donate all proceeds from their new EP to five different nonprofit groups: "Tomorrow, in the spirit of gratitude and support of the Black Lives Matter movement we will be splitting a donation of $10,000, along with all of the sales from our Bandcamp on 7/3, to the following organizations: Cultural Survival, Equal Justice Initiative, Seeding Sovereignty, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), and The Okra Project."
The forward-thinking band then signed off with a positive resolution: "The actions we are taking today are not the end of our commitment to address these issues. It’s our desire to stay engaged in the issues that surround us and we will continue to find ways we can engage and support."
What the band has done is truly commendable and this comes in the wake of other American artists who have pledged make changes for the better. The country trio Lady Antebellum recently changed their name to Lady A, while the Dixie Chicks also changed their name to The Chicks, due to the racial connotations associated with those Confederate State terms. It's far better to be proactive about positive change than being called out for it further down the line.