LONDON — British record label Young Turks, which is home to Mercury Prize winners The xx and Sampha, has changed its name to avoid links with the mass killings of Armenians during World War One.
Label founder Caius Pawson announced the decision on Instagram Tuesday, April 6th, saying the change “follows a long period of reflection.” He went on to discuss why he chose Young Turks as the name for his label, but also the historical significance of the term.
Pawson cited Rod Stewart’s 1981 hit, “Young Turks” as his initial inspiration. “The name intrigued me,” Pawson said, “evoking the solidarity of youth. In 2005, it seemed to perfectly sum up what we were: teenagers, wanting and waiting to do something, anything.”
Pawson acknowledges, however, that those involved with the label 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.” Pawson said he and others at the label have grown to realize that the name was “ a source of hurt and confusion for people,” adding: “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.”
Along with announcing the name change, Young said ahead of April 24th — the day to commemorate the 1915 Armenian Genocide — it had made a charitable donation to the Armenian Institute in London. The name change also applies to Young’s other entities, including its management company, now Young Artists, and publishing company, now Young Songs.