Dim Mak Removes TAI’s Offensive “Indian Kill” EP

tai-indian-kill-ep

While Dim Mak can be applauded for giving their artists complete creative freedom, it’s surprising that situations like this can make it out of the door. Steve Aoki‘s imprint recently released TAI‘s Indian Kill EP. Yes, that was the name of the project, which was released with the offensive cover art up above. Again, how this even made it out of the door without someone speaking up is a bit unsettling.

Upon hearing about this EP, A Tribe Called Red‘s DJ NDN took to his Facebook page to express his outrage: “This makes me sick on how violent racism like this is acceptable in the EDM. I’m so upset right now.Drop The Lime, who’d contributed a remix to the title track, expressed his concern via the following tweet:

We can understand how Drop the Lime might not have known the content of the single artwork – he might have just been sent files to rework. How this made it past whomever’s hands to approve artwork then get the release to the distributor is what concerns us. Regardless, Dim Mak swiftly took charge, removing the EP immediately and, as TAI said via his Facebook page, donated any and all proceeds from the sale of the EP to the Native American Heritage Association. Here is a portion of his apology:

Having been born in London and raised in Thailand, I was raised with a strong respect and affinity for all cultures. But being from the Eastern Hemisphere, I was unfortunately not fully versed in the negative connotations that my EP’s content would have, and I am truly sorry for any offense I have caused. I know that my ignorance of these matters cannot be used as an excuse in any way, but I want to make it clear that I in no way intended for the EP to be offensive or to stir controversy, etc. Those who know me personally know that I am anything but a racist, and I now understand fully that the track and artwork were poor choices to represent my artistic direction.

Dim Mak also went on the record to apologize for this EP, and it sounds like they might be changing their practices in the future:

So why did we release this EP? It all comes down to one of our core company values: we at Dim Mak require that our artists maintain their complete creative freedom. As an indie label built out of a college bedroom over 15 years ago, we have been unbending on the complete freedom of expression that is at the essence of the DIY culture. We’ve never felt the need to question our artists’ creative vision, and in retrospect we see that was a mistake in this instance as the artist himself was not aware of the negative implications of the release that he delivered.

Now that we’ve witnessed the earnest offense that the release of this EP has caused (especially in relation to an issue that is much more significant than a simple dance music single could ever be), we understand that there are some lines that cannot and should not be crossed. To put it simply, this situation forced us to take a long hard look at how we balance creative freedom with cultural sensitivity.

DAD applauds Dim Mak and TAI for their apologies and the swift manner in which they rectified the situation, and we’re hoping that they enact whatever checks they need to ensure that this kind of ridiculousness will be halted before reaching retail.

(Your EDM / ICTMN)

  • GKSANDOVAL

    The use of a negative image to promote music was a bad decision.

    It was a bad decision by many parties: from the artist himself, to the firm that handles any “creative marketing”, to his management company, to the American label that signed the recording and its staff that handles putting together the press kits for media consumption. Don’t forget about the people who handle the books and accounting. This project went through a chain of operation and command that dominates operations of their size in the music industry.

    As a music producer, I know about the creative process of putting together dance music. One usually works long hours to perfect a recording that is intended for commercial release. First, the artist puts together the original recording, which is usually has to pass pre-approval by upper management for it to proceed to mastering. Why spend money on something that isn’t going to bring a return? Professional mastering costs money. If a vinyl release it planned, then it has to be mastered for vinyl and the metal plates cut. Another cost.

    Then, there’s the creation of the graphics that are to accompany the music. This could include the creation of a distinctive font or a specific design. In this case, it was the image of an arrow stuck into the head of a man in a head-dress, bleeding from the left eye with a look of horror on his face. What was the artist’s intent behind that specific image? As, all Native Americans know there is power and spirit in the use of symbols. Many tribes have specific symbols that are a deep integral part of their spirituality. So, I was a little taken aback by the distribution of such a strong statement. The depiction of the death of another human being is no light matter and should never be used for self-promotion and gain.

    On that note, the big question on people’s minds is: How did this blatant negative image of a Native American pass approval for distribution by an American recording label? There’s been no reply via Twitter or Facebook to my inquiries into the matter by the parties involved. If this was the creation of a media team in a negative marketing campaign, then it really was done in poor taste and I feel a complete failure by all the people involved in the promotion of this release.

    There was a comment on a blog about the ‘silver lining’ that some Native American families will be helped by the donation of the money made by ‘INDIAN KILL’. I thought to myself that as a Native American that has been involved in the dance music scene since the early 1990′s, including helping to throw one of the first raves in Santa Fe, NM, I can do much better that this sorry attempt at any apology to really help my people and to preserve my Native American culture by displaying it in the best light possible.

    Inspired by peace activists like John Lennon and Yoko Ono, instead of taking to my guitar, I opened my laptop and started to work on a new musical release that was truly Inspired by Navajo spirituality. Here it is:

    https://soundcloud.com/gksandoval/gk-sandoval-the-blessingway

    The Blessingway is a traditional Navajo ceremony to bring harmony and balance. The traditional Blessingway is the creation story of the Navajo people. It details the emerging of the Navajo people through various worlds, overcoming obstacles and aligning with Beauty–the natural state of the Navajo(Dine). I’m using this project to raise awareness about Native American stereotypes & how casually people view an entire race of people.

    This track is my musical response to the ignorant use of Native American imagery by TAI for his release called ‘INDIAN KILL’. There’s no need for the use of negative iconography in a dance music scene that is based on equality and equanimity.

    Dance music is supposed to bring people together.

    If people are going to create “unintentionally ignorant” dance music and graphic art, I’ll take it one step further by creating Aware and Enlightened dance music and art that promotes and highlights Native American culture and Indigenous spirituality.