Anohni in 2009
|Also known as||Antony, Antony Hegarty|
|Born||October 1971 (age 45)
Chichester, Sussex, England, United Kingdom
|Origin||New York City, United States|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, singer|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, keyboards|
|Associated acts||Antony and the Johnsons, Hercules and Love Affair, Björk, Lou Reed, CocoRosie, Current 93, Oneohtrix Point Never, Hudson Mohawke|
Anohni (stylized as ANOHNI; born Antony Hegarty, October 1971) is an English-born singer, composer, and visual artist who resides in the United States. She is best known as the lead singer of the band Antony and the Johnsons.
Anohni was born in Chichester, England. Her family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1981. In 1990, she moved to Manhattan, New York to study at New York University, where she founded the performance art collective Blacklips with Johanna Constantine.
She started her musical career performing with an ensemble of NYC musicians as Antony and the Johnsons. Their first album, Antony and the Johnsons, was released in 2000 on David Tibet's label Durtro. Their second album, I Am a Bird Now (2005), was a commercial and critical success, earning her the Mercury Music Prize.
Anohni is transgender. In 2016, Anohni became the second openly transgender person nominated for an Academy Award; she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, along with J. Ralph, for the song "Manta Ray" in the film Racing Extinction. Her debut solo album, Hopelessness, was released in May 2016 to wide critical acclaim, including another nomination for the Mercury Music Prize and a Brit Award.
Anohni was born in 1971 in Chichester, West Sussex, England, UK. In 1977, her family moved to Amsterdam for a year, and then, in 1981, they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area of California where she grew up. As a teenager, she was influenced by Kate Bush as well as British synthpop – in particular, singers such as Marc Almond, Alison Moyet and Boy George, and was also strongly influenced by underground stars Diamanda Galás, Rozz Williams, Divine and Klaus Nomi and American singers including Nina Simone, Otis Redding, and Donny Hathaway. In 1990, Anohni moved to Manhattan to attend the Experimental Theatre Wing of New York University, and founded the performance collective Blacklips with creative partner Johanna Constantine. She spent the next several years singing in after-hours bars and clubs using pre-recorded cassettes as self-accompaniment as well as writing and directing late night theatre productions.
Antony and the Johnsons
After being awarded a grant from New York Foundation for the Arts for the 1996 production of "The Birth of Anne Frank/The Ascension of Marsha P. Johnson" at Performance Space 122, Anohni solicited accompanying musicians to record a number of songs she wrote in the early 1990s. The ensemble performed for the first time as "Antony and the Johnsons" at The Kitchen as part of William Basinski's installation "Life on Mars" in 1997. In 1999, the group began to perform more frequently at venues such as Joe's Pub and The Knitting Factory in New York City. British experimental musician David Tibet of Current 93 heard the recording and offered to release it through his Durtro record label; the debut album, Antony and the Johnsons, was released in 2000. In 2001, Anohni released a follow-up EP through Durtro, I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy, which, in addition to the title track, included a cover of a David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti song "Mysteries of Love", and a Current 93 song, "Soft Black Stars".
Antony and the Johnsons' 2005 album I Am a Bird Now featured guest performances by Lou Reed, Boy George, Rufus Wainwright and Devendra Banhart. The album was released in North America by Secretly Canadian Records and in Europe by Rough Trade. It received considerable praise and won the UK's prestigious Mercury Prize and was named Album of the Year by Mojo magazine. The band toured North America, Europe, Australia and parts of South America for a year and a half in support of I am a Bird Now. The song "Bird Gerhl" was featured in the soundtrack for the movie V for Vendetta.
Antony and the Johnsons collaborated with experimental film maker Charles Atlas and presented TURNING in Nov 2006 in Rome, London, Paris, Madrid, and Braga, Portugal. The concert featured live video portraits of some of New York City's most enigmatic women. The Guardian called the piece "fragile, life affirming, and truly wonderful (five stars)" Le Monde in Paris hailed TURNING as "Concert-manifeste transsexuel."
Antony and the Johnsons' 5-song Another World EP was released on 7 October 2008. Antony and the Johnsons' third album, The Crying Light, was released on 19 January 2009. The album peaked at number 1 on the European Billboard charts. Anohni has described the theme of the album as being "about landscape and the future." The album was mixed by Bryce Goggin and includes arrangements by Nico Muhly. Ann Powers wrote of The Crying Light for the LA Times online, "it's the most personal environmentalist statement possible, making an unforeseen connection between queer culture's identity politics and the green movement. As music, it's simply exquisite – more controlled and considered than anything Antony and the Johnsons have done and sure to linger in the minds of listeners." After touring throughout North America and Europe in support of their new album, Antony and the Johnsons presented a unique staging of "The Crying Light" with the Manchester Camerata at the Manchester Opera House for the 2009 Manchester International Festival. The concert hall was transformed into a crystal cave filled with laser effects created by installation artist Chris Levine. Antony and the Johnsons have gone on to present concerts with symphonies across Europe in Summer 2009, including the Opera Orchestra of Lyon, the Metropole Orchestra, Roma Sinfonietta and the Montreux Jazz Festival Orchestra. At Salle Playel in Paris, Anohni appeared in a costume designed by Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy.
Fall 2010 saw the release of Thank You For Your Love EP and in October the full-length album Swanlights on Secretly Canadian and Rough Trade. Abrams Books also published a book edition of Swanlights featuring Anohni's drawings and collages with photography by Don Felix Cervantes. At the end of October Anohni performed a special concert in New York City at Lincoln Center to commemorate the life of Kazuo Ohno who had died in June 2010.
In January 2011, Anohni was a guest on "Winterguest", a program on Dutch Television's VPRO channel and was interviewed by Leon Verdonschot discussing her political and ecological viewpoints in reference to different film clips.
Anohni performed at the TED conference in Long Beach in 2011 in a session on "Radical Collaboration".
In January 2012, Antony and the Johnsons were presented by the Museum of Modern Art at Radio City Music Hall in "Swanlights", a collaboration with laser artist Chris Levine and set designer Carl Robertshaw. The performance was heralded by the New York Times in a review by Jon Parales entitled "Cries From the heart, Crashing Like Waves." This collaboration was also staged at the Royal Opera House in London in 2013 and at Teatro Real in Madrid in 2014.
Antony and the Johnsons released a live symphonic album in August 2012 entitled Cut The World featuring the Danish Radio Orchestra. The album features a spoken track called "Future Feminism" in which Anohni elaborates on her view of the connection between feminism and ecology. A video for the song "Cut the World" directed by Nabil features Willem Dafoe, Carice Van Houten and Marina Abramović.
Anohni was "guest of honor" at the Melbourne Festival in October 2012, presenting a restaging of "Swanlights", as well as screening Charles Atlas' Turning, Lynette Wallworth's Coral: Rekindling Venus, and presenting Paradise, an exhibition of Antony's drawings and collages.
In June 2015, Antony and the Johnsons performed at Dark Mofo in Tasmania, Australia, as a benefit in support of the Martu people of Parnngurr in WA in their fight to prevent a uranium mine from being developed near their community by Canadian multinational Cameco and Mitsubishi. Anohni appeared with Martu representatives at a press conference at the MCA in Sydney and on ABC's "Q and A" in further service of this cause.
Anohni collaborated with composer J. Ralph on the song "Manta Ray" from the environmental documentary Racing Extinction, which explored various aspects of the Holocene extinction. This would be the last song released where she was credited as Antony. A music video was released, featuring various microscopic marine organisms. Despite receiving a nomination for Best Original Song at the 88th Academy Awards, Anohni decided to boycott the ceremony. She expressed discomfort over the Academy's decision to characterize her in the days leading up to the ceremony as having been "cut" from the line-up due to "time constraints", despite never actually having been asked to perform in the first place. She went on: "singing about eco-cide... might not sell advertising space" and that the system is one "of social oppression and diminished opportunities for transpeople that has been employed by capitalism in the U.S. to crush our dreams and our collective spirit".
On 23 February 2015, Anohni announced her fifth album Hopelessness via the Antony and the Johnsons' website and Facebook account. Co-produced by Anohni, Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke, it is her first album to be released under her new name, a name she had been using in her personal life "for years". In the announcement, Anohni described the album as "an electronic record with some sharp teeth". On 30 November 2015, Anohni released "4 Degrees", the first song from Hopelessness. Commenting on the album's lead single in a fan interview earlier in the year, Anohni had stated that she had "grown tired of grieving for humanity", adding that she felt she "was not being entirely honest by pretending that I am not a part of the problem. '4 Degrees' is kind of a brutal attempt to hold myself accountable, not just valorize my intentions but also reflect on the true impact of my behaviors."
On 9 March 2016, Anohni announced the release of the album's second single "Drone Bomb Me" via Facebook. The song, which premiered on Annie Mac's show on BBC Radio 1 later that day, was accompanied by a music video which she described as "insanely beautiful". As revealed shortly after the announcement on Anohni's Instagram account, the video was directed by Nabil Elderkin and stars English supermodel Naomi Campbell. Hopelessness was released on 6 May 2016 to critical acclaim. It was also nominated for the 2016 Mercury Prize and a Brit.
Anohni is transgender and uses she/her pronouns. In an interview with Flavorwire in November 2014 she stated, "My closest friends and family use feminine pronouns for me. I have not mandated the press do one thing or another... In my personal life I prefer ‘she’. I think words are important. To call a person by their chosen gender is to honor their spirit, their life and contribution. ‘He’ is an invisible pronoun for me, it negates me."
- With Antony and the Johnsons
- As Anohni
|"Blood on the Door"||Breadcrumb Sins||Jamie Saft||2002|
|"You Stand Above Me" – Antony (1:36)||Live at St. Olaves||split EP with Current 93||2003|
|"The Lake" – Antony (4:48)|
|"Cripple and the Starfish" – Antony (4:51)|
|"Perfect Day"||The Raven||Lou Reed||2003|
|"Candy Says"||Animal Serenade||Lou Reed||2004|
|"A Little Bit of Time"||Red Tape||Brooks||2004|
|"Old Whore's Diet"||Want Two||Rufus Wainwright||2004|
|"Beautiful Boyz"||Noah's Ark||CocoRosie||2005|
|"Happy Xmas (War is over)" with Boy George||Help!: A Day in the Life||War Child album||2005|
|"Idumea" / "The Beautiful Dancing Dust"||Black Ships Ate the Sky||Current 93||2006|
|(several)||Songs from the Coalmine Canary||Little Annie||2006|
|"Semen Song for James Bidgood"||The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast||Matmos||2006|
|"I Defy"||Real Life||Joan as Policewoman||2006|
|"If It Be Your Will"||Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man||Leonard Cohen tribute||2006|
|"One More Try"||Dial 0||My Robot Friend||2006|
|"Living The Blues"||Trouble: The Jamie Saft Trio Plays Bob Dylan||Jamie Saft Trio||2006|
|"Lowlands Low"||Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys||Bryan Ferry||2006|
|"Leave Her Johnny"||Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys||Lou Reed||2006|
|"Keep in Touch"||Speaks Volumes||Nico Muhly||2006|
|"The Dull Flame of Desire" / "My Juvenile"||Volta||Björk||2007|
|"The Ballad of the Sad Young Men"||Stardom Road||Marc Almond||2007|
|"Beauty"||Versatile Heart||Linda Thompson||2007|
|"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"||I'm Not There||soundtrack||2007|
|(all)||The Snow Abides||Michael Cashmore||2007|
|"God With No Tear"||Visionaire||53 Sound||2007|
|"Del suo veloce volo"||Fleurs 2||Franco Battiato||2008|
|"Ooh Baby Baby"||Easy Come, Easy Go||Marianne Faithfull||2008|
|"Will I Ever Learn"||Was muss muss||Herbert Grönemeyer||2008|
|"Be Good To Earth This Season" w/Kría Brekkan||split 7" single||Reverend Green||2008|
|"I Was Young When I Left Home"||Dark Was The Night||charity album||2009|
|"Nessun Dorma"||Lavazza campaign||with The Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra||2009|
|"Stranger Perfumes" & "Another Day in America"||Homeland||Laurie Anderson||2010|
|"Returnal"||Returnal||Oneohtrix Point Never||2010|
|"Who am I to feel so free?"||Talk About Body||MEN||2011|
|"Prisoner of Love"||See the Light||Jessica 6||2011|
|"Tearz For Animals"||We Are on Fire – Single||CocoRosie||2012|
|"Particle of Light"||See You on the Ice||Carice van Houten||2012|
|"Janitor of Lunacy"||Desertshore / The Final Report||X-TG||2012|
|"Poison"||Tales of a GrassWidow||CocoRosie||2013|
|"Mourned Winter Then"||I Am the Last of All the Field That Fell: A Channel||Current 93||2014|
|"Indian Steps"||Lantern||Hudson Mohawke||2015|
|"Manta Ray"||Racing Extinction||J. Ralph||2015|
|"Smoke ‘em Out"||single||CocoRosie||2017|
In addition to Antony and the Johnsons, Anohni occasionally collaborates with other musicians. In 2003, she began working with Lou Reed as a supporting vocalist on the Animal Serenade tour and performed on a number of tracks on Reed's album The Raven. She sang back up (with Sharon Jones and a children's choir) in Lou Reed's first full performance of his album Berlin at St Ann's Warehouse in NYC in December 2006 and at The State Theatre in Sydney, Australia in January 2007. Anohni sang "If It Be Your Will" as a part of Hal Willner's Came So Far For Beauty concerts at the Sydney Opera House in 2005; this performance was later featured in the film Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, a tribute to Leonard Cohen.
In 2006, she collaborated with Icelandic musician Björk in recording sessions in Jamaica and Iceland. The songs, "The Dull Flame of Desire" and "My Juvenile" were featured on her 2007 album Volta. The two also sang the songs in duet at several of Björk's concerts, including London, Reykjavík and New York. In 2015 Anohni sang for Björk again on Vulnicura's "Atom Dance".
Also in 2006 she co-produced Songs from the Coalmine Canary by Little Annie, also playing piano, singing backup vocals, and co-writing several songs on the album. The song "Strangelove", co-written by Anohni and Little Annie, was used as the soundtrack for Levi's "Dangerous Liaisons" advertising campaign in 2007, garnering several awards, including the Cannes Lions – International Advertising Festival, 2007 (Bronze Lion) for "Best Use of Music".
In 2008, Anohni was featured on five tracks from the self-titled disco album Hercules and Love Affair, most notably on "Blind", which was voted best track of 2008 by Pitchfork Media and ranked at number 2 on the "10 Best Singles of 2008" list by American magazine Entertainment Weekly.
Anohni worked with Bernard Butler on some acoustic sessions for the radio station XFM. In June 2009, she appeared live with Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band at Ornette Coleman's Meltdown at the Royal Festival Hall, singing Ono's "Toyboat". In the same year, she collaborated with Bryce Dessner on the Bob Dylan song "I Was Young When I Left Home" for the AIDS benefit album Dark Was the Night, produced by the Red Hot Organization.
Film and television
- Appears in Steve Buscemi's Animal Factory (2000) singing "Rapture"
- "I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy" is featured in Thom Fitzgerald's The Event (2003)
- Performs "I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy" in the French film Wild Side (2004)
- Featured singing "If It Be Your Will" in the documentary, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (2005)
- "Hope There's Someone" in the movie The Secret Life of Words (2005)
- The song "Bird Gerhl" plays on the jukebox while Evey and V dance in V for Vendetta (2006)
- "Hope There's Someone" in the Torchwood episode, "Random Shoes" (2006)
- "River of Sorrow" in the "Bones" episode, "The He in the She" (2008)
- Featured on the soundtrack of the Bob Dylan biographical film biopic I'm Not There singing Knocking on Heaven's Door.
- "Hope there's someone" plays during the end sequence of episode 8 of the first season of the crime drama series Saving Grace
- "Fistful of love" plays during a scene of a French movie Les Petits Mouchoirs from Guillaume Canet in 2011.
- "Knocking on Heaven's Door" appears at the end of 9th episode of the Netflix Original series "Sense8"
- "Bird Gerhl" was covered by Birdy for the expressive dance and flight scenes across the stadium featuring Miranda and David Toole, during the opening ceremony for the Summer Paralympic Games of London 2012.
- "Angel on Fire" appears on the Deluxe Edition of the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 2013.
In July 2008, Anohni debuted a number of self-produced visual artworks in a Brussels exhibition curated by Jerome Sans. Working with longtime collaborator/photographer Don Felix Cervantes and adviser Joie Iacono, she went on to have solo exhibitions at Isis Gallery in London and Accademia Albertina in Turin, Italy. In April 2009, she curated an exhibition entitled "6 Eyes" at the Agnes B. Galerie Du Jour in Paris. In this exhibition she drew connections between her own work and the work of artists Peter Hujar, Kiki Smith, Barbara Cummard, Alice O'Malley, James Elaine and William Basinski. This was the first time the work of Peter Hujar had ever been exhibited in France. A solo exhibition of Anohni's drawings and sculptures opened at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in January 2012. A solo exhibition of Anohni's drawings and sculptures opened at Sikkema Jenkins Gallery in NYC in June 2013. Roberta Smith of the New York Times said of the show "Sometimes talent is concentrated, sometimes it spans multiple mediums. That of Anohni, singer-songwriter and leading light of the musical group Antony and the Johnsons, is the spanning kind. She is also a serious visual artist. Her first solo show in New York follows exhibitions in Los Angeles and London, and introduces a sensibility that is consistent with her heart-rending songs and warbling delivery: fragile, falling apart but surviving, even defiant."  A further exhibition that included Anohni's drawings opened in September 2014 at Sikkemma Jenkins gallery in NYC.
In 2007, Anohni created an original soundtrack for a video by Nick Knight featuring the designs of Hussein Chalayan. She collaborated in 2008 with Prada to create a song called "The Great White Ocean" for their promotional campaign. In 2009, she appeared as a muse of Riccardo Tisci and Givenchy in Dazed & Confused and L'Uomo Vogue. Anohni performed with orchestra for the Spring Givenchy collection in Paris, singing You Are My Sister and expanding on the theme of Future Feminism in literature distributed at the event.
During the 2011 Manchester International Festival Anohni was Musical Director for The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, a biography of the 'Godmother' of performance art, re-imagined by director Robert Wilson and co-starring Willem DaFoe, Marina Abramović and Anohni. The piece has subsequently been staged in Madrid, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Basel, Toronto (as part of the Luminato Festival) and NYC.
Anohni was the curator of Meltdown 2012 at the Southbank Centre in London.
Collaborating with Johanna Constantine, Kembra Pfahler, and Bianca and Sierra Casady, Anohni co-presented the exhibition and performance series "FUTURE FEMINISM" at The Hole in NYC in September 2014. Thirteen rose quartz sculptures were displayed during the 2 week event series, and artists including Lorraine O'Grady, Lydia Lunch, Kiki Smith, Marina Abramovic, Terence Koh and Narcissister made presentations.
In Autumn 2016, Anohni presented "My Truth", the largest exhibition of her work to date, across seven rooms at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld in Germany. On the first and second floors of the museum, Anohni also curated work by Peter Hujar, Kazuo Ohno and James Elaine.
Anohni is artist-in-residence in 2017 in Aarhus, Denmark, Europe's 2017 Capital of Culture.
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