It's been the year of name-shaming in the indie-rock world.
Canadian post-punk act Viet Cong came under fire for naming itself after the regime responsible for killing thousands of Vietnamese civilians, and eventually agreed to change it. Closer to home, Portland stoner-rockers Black Pussy inspired an online petition, several think-pieces and at least one show cancelation.
So you figure it was only a matter of time before people caught up with Swahili, the Portland psychedelic space-funk group which does not feature any members from Southeast Africa. Rather than wait to face the scourge of scandalized hashtivists, the band has decided to head off any possible controversy, by announcing on Facebook that it has played its final shows under that moniker:
Swahili is the world’s oldest living language. The word Swahili itself is aesthetically beautiful. It sounds and looks stunning.
We chose the name nearly 9 years ago for artistic reasons, to participate in a beautiful and ancient musical conversation.
It’s been a privilege to release two albums and to play hundreds of shows as Swahili.
However, as we’ve grown as people, so has the discourse regarding equality, appropriation and violence and we’ve found ourselves regretting calling the band Swahili.
It was a culturally ignorant thing to do.
Swahili, which released its latest album in April, has not yet decided on a replacement handle, but says it will be represented on its next project.
"We just felt like it was time to be done with Swahili," says member Troy Michaeu. "Lot of baggage and history with that name. We're working on a new record right now and the name will reflect the direction that project takes."
Well, in case they're looking for a few suggestions, I'm sure a few of these are still available.