Empire of The Sun co-founder Nick Littlemore has addressed themes of cultural appropriation in a new interview, apologising for the potentially offensive nature of the group’s early aesthetic.
Littlemore’s comments appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend, with the artist noting that he looks back upon the group’s early aesthetic – which included the use of Native American headdresses and feathers, amongst other items – with a sense of regret.
“There’s no denying the inspiration of other cultures that were woven into the first album,” Littlemore explains. “We shot music videos in China and Mexico and their cultures certainly carried the visual narrative from the landscapes, cityscapes and costumes.
“I’ve also personally always had a love of psychedelia and dream states which traditionally belong to shamanic cultures.”
Utilising their love of visual art to inform the power of their stage show, these aesthetics were most prevalent throughout the era of the pair’s first album. Despite this, the usage of a headdress by Luke Steele has remained throughout their career, adorning the cover of each of their three albums.
“I think society has learned a lot over the years about the sensitivity of using other cultural identities to drive their own projects,” Littlemore continued. “It’s important to listen to these voices and I do support them. It wasn’t ever the motivation behind Empire, however today I would not wear those same costumes as I did 13 years ago.
“I’d hate to think we ever offended anyone, we’ve only ever tried to express unity and create a magical world.”
Though cultural appropriation is hardly a new topic, the idea was once again at the forefront of musical discussions over the last week thanks in part to English musician Adele, who recently copped criticism for a photo which depicted her wearing a Jamaican flag bikini top, while her hair had been styled in Bantu knots.