The Slants – News Story

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA RULES UNANIMOUSLY IN FAVOR OF THE SLANTS

On, June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously (8-0) upheld the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s ruling that the all-Asian-American rock band The Slants have the right to register their trademark, ending an eight-year battle in their pursuit to trademark their name.

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Photo via The Slants

“After an excruciating legal battle that has spanned nearly eight years, we’re beyond humbled and thrilled to have won this case at the Supreme Court,” the band said in an official statement. “This journey has always been much bigger than our band: it’s been about the rights of all marginalized communities to determine what’s best for ourselves.”

The Portland, Oregon band, consisting of vocalist Ken Shima, guitarist Joe X. Jiang, and founder/bassist Simon Tam (whose stage name is Simon Young), formally applied for a trademark in 2010. However, a trademark examiner rejected the application, stating that “The Slants” was a disparaging term, using sources like UrbanDictionary.com as evidence.

“During the fight, we found the Trademark Office justifying the denial of rights to peope based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, and political views, simply because they disagreed with the message of these groups,” the band said. “To that end, they knowingly used false and misleading information, supported by questionable sources such as UrbanDictionary.com, while placing undue burdens on vulnerable communities and small business owners by forcing them into a lengthy, expensive, and biased appeals process.”

Then in 2011, Tam filed a second application, but was rejected again under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act.  After numerous appeals and arguments in court, the band finally prevailed on December 22, 2015, with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruling that The Slants have the right to register their trademark. The Slants stated that people of color and the LGBTQ community have been prime targets under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act for too long, and their legal battle with the Trademark Office has made it clear that the office needed to open its eyes one day to the modern world and its evolving identity politics, shifting language, and understanding of culture competency.

The day finally came when the appeals court ruled that the U.S Patent and Trademark Office and Department of Justice violated the band’s First Amendment rights. In a 9-3 vote, the appeals court struck down the “disparagement” portion of the Lanham Act, a 1946 law that allowed the Trademark Office to deny marks that could be considered “scandalous, immoral, or disparaging.”

Writing for the opinion, Judge Kimberly Moore stated, “Courts have been slow to appreciate the expressive power of trademarks… Words – even a single word – can be powerful.  Mr. Simon Tam named his band The Slants to make a statement about racial and cultural issues in this country.  With his band name, Mr. Tam conveys more about our society than many volumes of undisputedly protected speech.”

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Photo via The Slants

Tam said that when he started the band, it was about creating a bold portrayal of Asian American culture because the establishment of an Asian American band was a political act in of itself, even though they never considered themselves as a political group.

“However, as we continued writing music about our experiences, we realized that activism would be integrated into our art as well,” the band said. “I’m proud our band members have helped raise over $1 million for issues affecting Asian Americans, that we’ve worked with dozens of social justice organizations, and that we could humanize important issues around identity and speech in new and nuanced ways. So, we became part art and part activism.”

Indeed, the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of The Slants’ pursuit to trademark their name has opened new doors that allows Americans to decide who should prevail in the marketplace of ideas, as well as having national implications on free speech. The Slants decided to dedicate their newest release, “The Band Who Must Be Named,” as an open letter to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to articulate these values.

“Music is the best way we know how to drive social change: it overcomes social barriers in a way that mob-mentality and fear-based political rhetoric never can,” the band said. “Language and culture are powerful forms of expression and we are elated to know that the Supreme Court of the United States agree. Irony, wit, satire, parody…these are essential for democracy to thrive, these are weapons that neuter malice.”

The Slants expressed their gratitude and appreciation for all the organizations and groups from all political sides that helped them along the way. The band set out to get their name but wound up accomplishing something far more important: protecting marginalized members of society and protecting the First Amendment.

“The Supreme Court has vindicated First Amendment rights not only for our The Slants, but all Americans who are fighting against paternal government policies that ultimately lead to viewpoint discrimination.”

The Slants is currently touring and promoting their latest release, “The Band Who Must Not Be Named,” which has spawned two singles “From the Heart” and “Level Up.” Here are their upcoming tour dates:

7/14/17 – Tokyo in Tulsa – Tulsa, OK

7/15/17 – Tokyo in Tulsa – Tulsa, OK

7/21/17 – Ash Street Saloon – Portland, OR

8/10/17 – Otakon Matsuri – Washington, D.C.

8/11/17 – Otakon Matsuri – Washington, D.C.

8/12/17 – Otakon Matsuri – Washington, D.C.

8/13/17 – Otakon Matsuri – Washington, D.C.

To stay up to date with all things The Slants, be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramYouTube, and their official site.

Patrick Doval – New Video Release

Miami, Florida-based singer-songwriter and producer Patrick Doval has released his 20th music video for “Crush” from his 2016 LP “Obscured.” Check out the 80s dance pop track here:

“Crush” is a fun song with a quirky video that takes inspiration from the 1958 cult film “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” with its larger than life actor searching for her relatively miniature friend. The over the top zaniness of the video draws comparisons to the creativity level of someone like David Bowie, who always took art into new, exciting directions. The video is yet another example of Doval’s musical and creative inspiration. The song is featured on last year’s “Obscured,” an EP that debut at #164 on the FMQB radio charts along with its lead single “Sugarless Candy.” The song peaked at #27 and spent 20 weeks in the top 100.

Doval is known for being a do-it-yourself artist and he has been actively making music for more than ten years and five albums. Some of Doval’s music videos have been showcased at premier contemporary art stages including Art Basel, and the Wynwood Arts District of Miami’s Curator’s Voice Art Projects.

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Photo by Robert G. Zuckerman

To see Doval live, be sure to catch him at the Echo Tech in Miami on June 30 and July 28. Stay up to date with all things Doval at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and his official site.

Enoc Perez – Local Event

The UTA Artist Space will be featuring a politically-based solo exhibition by New York-based artist Enoc Perez opening on May 13 until June 17.

Perez’s exhibition focuses on architectural paintings of United States Embassy buildings throughout the world based on his frustrations of the country’s recent presidential election. His intention was to question how the political landscape has narrowed our relationships with these buildings and how they have gone from hopeful sanctuaries into security bunkers. The art portrays compounds in London, Beijing, Tel Aviv, Saigon and more, all with a sense of anxiety looming from the increased political conflict the nation faces.

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US Embassy Saigon, 2017
Oil on canvas, 60 x 80 Inches

Perez was born in San Juan in 1967 and spent his family vacations as a child traveling to museums in different countries learning about the history of art. After getting his master’s degree at Hunter College, he has had his work displayed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Museum in London and many, many more galleries, universities and art centers around the world.

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US Embassy Tel Aviv, 2017
Oil on canvas, 60 x 80 Inches

The exhibition will be held at the UTA Artist Space, which is known for showcasing art talent from around the world and helping artists gain access new opportunities. Be sure to check out Enoc Perez from May 13 to June 17 at the UTA Artist Space, located on 670 S. Anderson Street, Los Angeles, CA.

Heatwave – Local Event

Joshua Roth, UTA Artist Space, and Cultural Counsel will be presenting “Heatwave” curated by Dylan Brant. The event’s opening reception takes place March 18 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The group exhibition will be on display from March 18 to April 22.

“Heatwave” will feature the work of Joe Bradley, Dan Colen, George Condo, Jonathan Horowitz,Rashid Johnson, Mike Kelley, Elad Lassry, Nate Lowman, Karen Kilimnik, Adam McEwen, Cady Noland, Rob Pruitt, Julian Schnabel, Jim Shaw, Steven Shearer, Dash Snow, Josh Smith, and Michael Williams. The artwork features collaged newsprint, silkscreen, and pen and ink to bring out the excitement and anxieties of their generation.

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Curator Dylan Brant is a New York based curator and a co-founder of Y&S, an organization dedicated to emerging contemporary artists and the co- founder of the artist run project space Entrance. He has been featured in The New York Times, Artforum, Examiner, Interview Magazine, New York Observer, Out of Order, Paper Mag, Twelv Magazine, W Magazine, Wild Magazine and Vulture.

If you happen to be in L.A. this week, be sure to catch groundbreaking new art at UTA Artist Space, located on 670 S. Anderson Street, Los Angeles, CA.

SX – New Video Release

Belgium-native pop duo SX has recently released a new music for the song “Vision.” Check out the inspirational video here:

SX consists of the powerful voice of Stefanie Callebaut and the percussion and digital sounds of Benjamin Desmet who have been taking listeners on an avant-garde journey since forming. “Vision” is the first single from their upcoming sophomore album “Alphabet.” It is a song that talks about the perceptions of beauty and the ability to see beyond the surface. The video was shot in Paris featuring Sankofa Unit, a Parisian Urban Gospel Choir, and is based on the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and a Rembrandt painting.

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Photo provided by SX

SX first surprised audiences in 2011 with the release of their track “Black Video,” which led to an international tour where they opened for bands such as Yeasayer, Vampire Weekend, Ariel Pink, and Polica. Their debut album “Arche” was released in 2012 and included fan favorites “Gold,” “Graffiti,” and “The Future.” The album went on to earn a gold record status in Belgium.

“Alphabet” releases on March 3 and SX will be performing at SXSW on Thursday, March 16 at Tellers. To stay up to date with all things SX, be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Soundcloud.