SBTRKT and Disclosure Need to Quit the Cattiness [Opinion]

June 12, 2015 -

Milli Encarnacion

Earlier this week, SBTRKT and Disclosure were caught in somewhat of a mild frenzy when SBTRKT and his art director, A Hidden Place, accused the duo of plagiarizing their designs. SBTRKT, also known as Aaron Jerome, recognized several similarities between his album concept art and that of Disclosure's. First came the mask theme behind the cover art of both Disclosure's Settle and SBTRKT's self-titled debut. Then came Disclosure's recently announced sophomore album, Caracal, of which the cover art features the wildcat front-and-center; SBTRKT's Wonder Where We Land cover also features a wildcat. There's also the alleged fact that Disclosure was inspired to name "Holding On (feat. Gregory Porter)" after SBTRKT's "Hold On (feat. Sampha)." Lastly, let's not forget that SBTRKT's "Wildfire" was released before Disclosure spearheaded the Wild Life festival in the UK this past weekend. Corresponding tweets from both Aaron and A Hidden Place have since been deleted.

disclosure vs sbtrkt

But should we even consider this a matter of plagiarism? Throughout the existence of music as a relevant public interest, artists have inspired artists, others have copied, and others have stolen. A similar conflict occurred two years ago: remember when the wealthy heirs of Marvin Gaye accused Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams of lifting the melody of "Blurred Lines" straight from Marvin's single, "Got to Give it Up"? The sequential lawsuit earned the Gaye family $7.4 million. The LA Times sided with Robin and Pharrell, explaining that artists must draw inspiration from one another in order to create new work. I second this idea: all art is connected, whether visual, musical, literary – art in all forms. Inspiration is the farthest thing from thievery. In fact, consider it flattery.

I must mention, in addition, that each party's respective subject matter (which, apparently, are pretty much the same thing) are commonly known, and therefore commonly used. Cats represent curiosity, elusiveness, independence, and wit. Why wouldn't a chart-topping duo like Disclosure use one on their forthcoming album cover? Should Galantis be under fire as well for having a cat's face front-and-center on each of their releases?

Whatever the outcome of this over-tried tribulation, I hope that either artists' creativity does not falter as a result. Keep drawing cats if you wish, Disclosure. As for you, Aaron, you've become synonymous with your wildcat-inspired topper; enjoy the f*ck out of wearing it.


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