Indie Band Spirit Animal Changes Name Over Cultural Appropriation Accusations

Spirit Animal changes name
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Spirit Animal changes name
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Photo Credit: Record Heat

Indie band Spirit Animal has officially changed its name to Record Heat to avoid cultural appropriation allegations.

The Brooklyn-based alt-pop indie band says the name was chosen from a place of love and inclusiveness. But they realize that may not be the way the name is taken today. Here’s a peek at the band’s full statement.

“When this band was named a decade or so ago, it was done from a place of love and inclusiveness. The two words ‘spirit animal,’ without any context, had so much power and felt so uplifting that everyone who heard the name would interpret it uniquely for themselves,” the band says.

“With every conversation, release, and performance, we found new people who the name excited and drew in. We fed this open-endedness by laying strict ground rules for how we applied [the name],” the statement continues. “Namely, we never used animal-related art or themes, and, most importantly, we never used cultural imagery that wasn’t our own.”

“The ubiquity of the term ‘spirit animal’ in society made its use feel okay,” the band writes.

“The debate about its appropriateness was almost non-existent online or off. Even as you read this in 2020, many of you may be confused or surprised that we’re couching our decision to change our name in these terms. But a few times now, we have been asked about the name.”

“‘Are you Native American?” someone messaged us on social media. On a couple of occasions, someone has called us out in the comments. These instances were so infrequent that it was difficult to justify taking action. But today, we are here to say something we think everyone should aim to internalize and live up to. It doesn’t matter how many people are hurt by something you’re doing; one person should be enough to make you stop – if not stop and think.”

“If you’re familiar with this band and the people in it, you know how committed we have been privately and publicly to advancing the interests of the underserved, the vulnerable, the marginalized, the oppressed. We have done this with our voices, our platforms, our feet, and our wallets. But on this score, we all can and should do more.”

“So that’s what we’re doing. We’re retiring the Spirit Animal Name in favor of Record Heat,” the band says.

“In solidarity with the indigenous people whose lives and histories have been overturned and undermined by a brutally unjust system and a cultural blind spot as big as the sun itself.”

“Record Heat isn’t a new project; it’s a new leaf. Our songs and albums will be right where you found them before, but they’ll be there with the veil of insensitivity lifted. We hope you not only understand but take time to reflect on how you might be able to take your commitment to change to the next level, too. Thank you for the support all of these years. Our new shit’s going to fuck you up,” the band finishes.

So Animal Spirit is now Record Heat, and nothing about their sound will change. But changing a name has far-reaching consequences for discoverability. Amid Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial, the group Cosby Sweater changed their name to Turbo Suit. But the band couldn’t survive the name change and eventually broke up.