There’s a well-documented history of musicians deciding to alter their name after realizing it is problematic in nature. Last year, the Dixie Chicks became The Chicks, Lady Antebellum became Lady A (although the controversy didn’t end there), and rapper Mulatto has been leaning more into her Big Latto nickname. Now, independent record label Young Turks has opted to drop the “Turks” from their title over an association with the 1915 Armenian genocide.
The label was founded by Caius Pawson in 2005 and named after his then-nightclub of the same name. As a part of the umbrella label Beggars Group, Young is now a home to artists like FKA Twigs, The xx, Sampha, and more. In a statement about the name change, Pawson said it’s been a long time coming:
“From today, Young Turks will become Young. The name change follows a long period of reflection and I wanted to explain the origins of the Young Turks name and the reasons for the change.
We originally named Young Turks after the Rod Stewart song of the same name. When I first heard the song, it took a week of 2005-era internet searches to find out what it was and even longer to understand its meaning. The name intrigued me, evoking the solidarity of youth. In 2005, it seemed to perfectly sum up what we were: teenagers, wanting and waiting to do something, anything.
However, we were unaware of the deeper history of the term and, specifically, that the Young Turks were a group who carried out the Armenian Genocide from 1915 onwards. Through ongoing conversations and messages that have developed our own knowledge around the subject, it’s become apparent that the name is a source of hurt and confusion for people. We loved the name for what it meant to us, but in retrospect should have listened more carefully to other voices and acted more quickly. We have always tried to affect positive change and knowing what we do now, it’s only right that we change our name”
Alongside announcing the name change, Young said that they would be making a donation to the Armenian Institute in London, an organization dedicated to preserving Armenian history and culture through research and the arts. Their charitable act is also a way of recognizing Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, which falls on April 24.