Spitfire Audio responds to accusations of transphobia within company: “We believe that the more inclusive we are, the better our work is”
Jeremy Blake has publicly criticised the brand in a new video essay
Left: Christian Henson (image: Spitfire Audio/Facebook); Right: Jeremy Blake (image: Red Means Recording/YouTube)
[Updated 22/02/23, 20:10 GMT: Jeremy Blake issues further response to Spitfire Audio]
British sample library developer Spitfire Audio has responded to accusations that it has a “transphobia problem,” by producer and content creator Jeremy Blake of Red Means Recording after its co-founder Christian Henson voiced his support for several public figures who are alleged to hold transphobic views on social media.
A Spitfire Audio spokesperson told MusicTech: “We are aware of the video that was posted on YouTube, which makes certain allegations regarding Spitfire.
“We do not recognise the characterisation of our company nor of our culture in this video. Spitfire is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. We have always been committed to building a team with a variety of backgrounds, skills, and views, as we believe that the more inclusive we are, the better our work is.”
On 19 February, Blake uploaded a video essay to his YouTube channel, Red Means Recording, titled ‘Spitfire Audio has a Transphobia Problem.’ In the video, Blake claims that the opinions and comments of Spitfire Audio and Pianobook co-founder Christian Henson have “traumatised” its customer base and “torn asunder in everything that these communities tried to build.”
In September 2022, Henson posted on his Twitter account to give his “full support” to author JK Rowling and former comedy writer Graham Linehan, both of whom have become prominent figures in the so-called ‘Gender Critical’ movement, which opposes certain kinds of legal recognition and medical care for transgender people, while supporting exclusion of trans women from women’s spaces.
Henson’s original post received significant backlash on Twitter for his comments, including from prominent artists, and he deleted the post and his Twitter account shortly after. The same day, Spitfire announced that he would “take a break” from the company.
Blake’s accusations were prompted by Henson recently uploading a video to his own YouTube channel that references the Canadian author Jordan Peterson – another prominent public figure often accused of holding transphobic views. Henson’s video, ‘CLUSTER B – The TRUTH,’ sees the Spitfire co-founder discuss how people with ‘Cluster B’ personality disorder have affected his personal life.
In the video, as well as on Twitter, Blake questions whether Henson’s endorsement of another notable anti-trans figure represents a pattern of behaviour, tweeting a screenshot of a comment Henson made under the video defending Peterson’s credentials as a psychologist and the caption:
“Yo @SpitfireAudio, you really need to do something about your boy…Between the original transphobia and this, I can safely say this is full of red pill radicalization at play here…(That’s bad btw)” [sic]
Yo @SpitfireAudio you really need to do something about your boy.
Between the original transphobia and this, I can safely say this is full red pill radicalization at play here.
(That's bad btw) pic.twitter.com/C1ChIJogxV
— Jeremy Blake (@jjbbllkk) February 14, 2023
Blake’s video essay explains the background of Rowling, Linehan and Peterson’s views, while also claiming that producers Venus Theory and Skyscape Paradise collaborated with Pianobook but terminated the partnership following Henson’s original tweet.
Blake also criticises Henson’s decision to pass Pianobook’s lead to Loren Sunderland, who has worked on Spitfire’s Composer magazine for seven years. Blake says he has an issue with “the concept that just because she promoted inclusivity of some form at Composer, that this is a win for people. In fact, it feels kind of like some nasty nepotism.
“This isn’t how it works,” he adds. “You don’t get to just gloss over this. In fact, Loren, you seem more like a traitor than a force for good… Everyone is still very much not happy.”
In his conclusion, Blake says: “I don’t really know how to fix Spitfire at this point. I think it would probably start with an apology.”
Blake has responded to Spitfire Audio’s statement, telling MusicTech via Twitter: “Spitfire insists this is a mischaracterization of their company, but their actions make clear that this is a lie. Christian Henson has returned to active work with Spitfire and the company continues to take no actions to implement its claimed support for the rights of minority groups. I stand behind my assessment until they take actual concrete and meaningful steps to fix their clear transphobia problem.”
Christian Henson is yet to publicly acknowledge the video essay.
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