David Byrne apologized on Monday for failing to incorporate female artists into his upcoming American Utopia album – a project that includes collaborations with some two dozen musicians and producers.
Byrne posted a contrite note on Instagram, acknowledging his mistake and how it contributed to gender inequity in popular music. “This lack of representation is something that is problematic and widespread in our industry,” he wrote. He added, “I regret not hiring and collaborating with women for this album – it’s ridiculous,” bolding and underlining the sentence for extra emphasis.
Byrne noted that he has collaborated with women frequently on previous projects: “It certainly doesn’t match how I’ve worked in the past.” He also suggested that his upcoming live performances, which he has called “the most ambitious show[s] … since the shows that were filmed for Stop Making Sense,” feature “a slew of diverse creators and collaborators.”
But Byrne did not let himself off the hook, pointing out that the diversity of his tour makes his album’s monolithic male-ness seem “even more negligent.” “It’s hard to realize that no matter how much effort you spend nudging the world in what you hope is the right direction, sometimes you are part of the problem,” he added. “I never thought of myself as being ‘one of those guys,’ but I guess to some extent I am.”