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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 13 December, 2019

Talking Heads front-man David Byrne has apologised for only working with men on his new album

“I regret not hiring and collaborating with women for this album – it’s ridiculous.”

David Byrne Photo Session - Amsterdam Source: Utrecht Robin

EARLIER THIS WEEK, David Byrne, the founder and front-man of Talking Heads, took to Instagram to announce that his new album would be released on the 9th of March.

The singer shared a collage of all of the artists he worked with on his new project American Utopia, which included many talented individuals like Sampha, Dev Hynes and Brian Eno. Byrne also shared a playlist with music made by all 25 of the people in his collage.

I have a new album out (in 8 days!!!) called American Utopia. I wrote and recorded it over a two-year period and its evolution involved a lot of collaborators. Some were old friends and some were completely new to me. This month's DB Radio playlist is a sample of their own work. We often ended up with a whole slew of contributors to a song, a patchwork—and somehow it worked. Though there were so many collaborators and contributors, much of the process was about stripping things away. Often we’d see how much we could remove while still maintaining the essence of the song. This seemed to give due emphasis to the vocals and lyrics—which is another story. Learn more about how American Utopia came to be and listen to the playlist on

A post shared by David Byrne (@davidbyrneofficial) on

It was not long before fans noticed that Byrne had not worked with one single woman on his new album.

Lauren Martin of Red Bull Radio was one of the first people to point it out.

Tweet by @Lauren Martin Source: Lauren Martin/Twitter

She wrote:

Imagine being David Byrne. Having the resources and enduring appeal for artists, young and old, that romance and joy and appreciation. You could literally pick *anyone* to work with, and they’d scream yes off the rooftops. And it’s all guys? Like, come on.

David Byrne, who worked alongside bassist Tina Weymouth (whose contribution to the music made by Talking Heads was often the element that stood out the most), was not angry about people pointing out the complete lack of female talent on his upcoming album.

David Byrne Photo Session - Amsterdam Source: Utrecht Robin

Instead, he thanked those who called him out and apologised on Instagram.

He wrote:

There have been some responses and some of them have pointed out the lack of women among this group. I’d like to thank those of you who wrote for calling attention to this – this matters a lot to me. 

David Byrne Photo Session - Amsterdam Source: Utrecht Robin

The lack of representation is something that is problematic and widespread in our industry. I regret not hiring and collaborating with women for this album – it’s ridiculous. It’s not who I am and it certainly doesn’t match how I’ve worked in the past.

Byrne also said that the lineup on the album does not represent his current live show, which has made his actions “even more negligent”.

At the end of his apology, David Byrne wrote:

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. I never thought of myself as being “one of those guys”, but I guess to some extent I am.

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Kelly Earley

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