Anohni and the Johnsons

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Anohni and the Johnsons
Anohni performing in 2008
Anohni performing in 2008
Background information
Also known asAntony and the Johnsons
OriginNew York City, New York, U.S.[1]
Years active1995–2015, 2023–present
LabelsSecretly Canadian, Rough Trade
Past members

Anohni and the Johnsons (previously known as Antony and the Johnsons) is a music ensemble originally based in New York City that presents the work of English singer-songwriter Anohni and her collaborators. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2000. Their second album, 2005's I Am a Bird Now, was certified Gold in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Switzerland; it also was awarded that year's UK Mercury Prize.

Following the release of The Crying Light (2009) and Swanlights (2010), as well as the live album Cut the World (2012), Anohni released a solo electronic album in collaboration with Hudson Mohawke and Daniel Lopatin called Hopelessness in 2016. In 2023, Anohni returned as "Anohni and the Johnsons" with the release of her sixth album My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross in July of that year.

Anohni and the Johnsons have received considerable critical acclaim in addition to chart success and award nomintions. Anohni's unique singing voice has been compared to artists such as Nina Simone, Bryan Ferry and Jimmy Scott.[5] As a performer, The Guardian has described Anohni as being "gifted with a vibrato voice – think Nina Simone, Billie Holiday – that sighs with sincerity and the lyrical prowess to make the profoundly personal both accessible and ambiguous."[6]


Anohni founded the NYC-based experimental theater group The Johnsons in 1995, named in honor of the NYC trans and human-rights activist Marsha P. Johnson.[7] She assembled a group of musicians in 1997 to record her first album and began performing concerts in NYC as "Antony and the Johnsons" in 1997. British experimental musician David Tibet of Current 93 heard a demo and offered to release Anohni's music through his Durtro label. The self-titled debut album, Antony and the Johnsons, was released in 2000. In 2001, Anohni released a short follow-up EP, I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy, which, in addition to the title track, included a cover of "Mysteries of Love", a David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti song and "Soft Black Stars", a Current 93 cover.

Producer Hal Willner heard the EP and played it to Lou Reed, who recruited Anohni for his project The Raven. Now gaining more attention, Anohni signed to U.S.-based record label Secretly Canadian, and released another EP, The Lake, with Lou Reed guest-performing on one of the tracks. Secretly Canadian re-released Anohni's debut album in the United States to wider distribution in 2004. As one of the artists selected for that year's Whitney Biennial, Anohni presented Turning, a series of concerts as Antony and the Johnsons in tandem with live video portraits of 13 femme underground NYC figures including Connie Flemming, Honey Dijon, Kembra Pfahler, Joey Gabriel and Nomi Ruiz, in collaboration with film-maker Charles Atlas.[8]

Anohni's second full-length album, 2005's I Am a Bird Now, was met with positive reviews and significantly more mainstream attention. The album featured guest appearances by Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright, Boy George, and Devendra Banhart, and circled themes of duality and transformation. I Am a Bird Now featured arrangements by Maxim Moston and Julia Kent and was mixed by Doug Henderson. In September 2005 Antony and the Johnsons were awarded the Mercury Prize[9] for the best UK album of 2005. Rival Mercury nominees, and favorites for the prize, the Kaiser Chiefs suggested that Anohni got in on a technicality; despite the fact she was born in the United Kingdom she spent much of her time in the U.S.—although they conceded that it was "a good album".[10]

Following the success of I Am a Bird Now, in November 2006 Anohni re-staged Turning in Rome, London, Paris, Madrid, and Braga. The NYC cast of performers additionally included Julia Yasuda, Eliza Douglas, and Johanna Constantine.[11] The Guardian called the piece "fragile, life affirming, and truly wonderful (five stars)" .[12] Le Monde in Paris described Turning as "Concert-manifeste transsexuel".[13]

In 2005, Antony and the Johnsons' single "Hope There's Someone" was featured in Spanish director Isabel Coixet's film The Secret Life of Words, and the 2007 film based on the life of Bob Dylan, I'm Not There, featured Anohni's cover of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door".

Antony and the Johnsons' 5-song Another World EP was released on October 7, 2008. Antony and the Johnsons' third album, The Crying Light,[14] was released on January 19, 2009, and went to No. 1 on the European Billboard charts.[15] Anohni has described the theme of the album as being "about landscape and the future".[16] Nature, death, love and the role of the artist were explored across ten tracks, which included the single "Epilepsy Is Dancing". The album was mixed by Bryce Goggin and included 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."[17]

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 went 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 Pleyel in Paris, Anohni appeared in a costume designed for her by Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy.

After two sold-out concerts at the Sydney Opera House, Antony and the Johnsons ended their recent touring in February 2010 in Tokyo. Anohni, Johanna Constantine and William Basinski performed at the Sogetsu Hall with butoh master Yoshito Ohno, the son of the 103-year-old dancer Kazuo Ohno, whose image is featured on the cover of The Crying Light.[18] Kazuo Ohno died in June of that year, and Anohni wrote an obituary for the dancer in The Guardian.[19]

September 2010 saw the release of the Thank You For Your Love EP which includes covers of Bob Dylan's "Pressing On" and John Lennon's "Imagine". The Sun listed Thank You For Your Love as single of the week on August 27, 2010. Antony and the Johnsons performed "Thank You For Your Love" on both the Late Show with David Letterman and Later... with Jools Holland in support of the album's release.

In October 2010 Anohni was invited to "takeover" The Guardian's music and arts page that ran for weeks leading up to the release of Swanlights, the band's 4th album.[20] Swanlights was released on October 12, 2010, through Secretly Canadian and Rough Trade Records. Simultaneously, Abrams Books published a book edition of Swanlights featuring Anohni's drawings and collages with photography by Don Felix Cervantes. Stereogum placed Swanlights in its Top 50 Albums of the year at #8.[21]

In interviews around the world in 2010, Anohni described her work on Swanlights and The Crying Light as "a collision between joy and a sense of hopelessness". Anohni said she was struggling to come to terms with the idea that she was part of a society that was having a "virulent" impact on the earth.[22] She suggested that the degradation of nature was partially a result of the subjugation of women and earth-based spiritual systems.[22] Anohni also blamed the collapse of humanity's sustainable relationship with the earth in part on the rise of patriarchal religions that suggest the destiny of humanity to be "a paradise elsewhere". Interview Magazine describes Swanlights as "an emotional personal call for global, collective change".[23]

In tribute to Kazuo Ohno, Antony and the Johnsons performed on October 30, 2010, at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and featured the film "Mr. O's Book of the Dead" directed by Chiaki Nagano and starring Kazuo Ohno.[24]

In January 2011, Anohni was a guest on Wintergasten, a program on Dutch television's VPRO channel and was interviewed by Leon Verdonschot.

In 2010–2011, the song "Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground" from the album The Crying Light was chosen as one of the five stimuli that the International Baccalaureate Organization chose for the IB Theatre Arts PPP.

On January 26, 2012, the Museum of Modern Art in New York produced a sold-out performance by Antony and the Johnsons, entitled "Swanlights" after their fourth studio album, at Radio City Music Hall, a collaboration with laser artist Chris Levine and set designer Carl Robertshaw. The event was prefaced by a speech from Dr. Julia Yasuda, who said: "I am concerned about nature changing and dying. Won't you please help her? Otherwise the world will be too lonely". The New York Times described the concert as "Cries From the Heart, Crashing Like Waves".[25] This collaboration was later staged at the Royal Opera House in London in 2013 for two days[26] and at the Teatro Real in Madrid in 2014 for four consecutive days.[27]

Antony and the Johnsons released a live symphonic album in August 2012 entitled Cut the World; it features a track called "Future Feminism", which consists of a speech in which Anohni disparages patriarchal religions and advocates for a shift towards feminine systems of governance as part of an effort to avert global ecological disaster.[28]

On February 23, 2015, Anohni announced through her Facebook and official site the name of her new album, Hopelessness, although no release date was provided. The album was mixed and co-produced by Hudson Mohawke, Oneohtrix Point Never and herself. It would be released under the moniker Anohni. It was described as an "electronic record with some sharp teeth".[29]

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 Western Australia 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&A in further service of this cause.[30]

In May 2016, Hopelessness was released by Anohni on Secretly Canadian and Rough Trade.

In 2019, following the passing of Johnsons collaborator Julia Yasuda, Anohni staged a surrealist play "Love" at The Kitchen in NYC, in part a tribute to the work they had performed together in the mid 90s.

On May 9, 2023, Anohni announced the change of her band's name to "Anohni and the Johnsons" via an Instagram post with a photo showing two billboards in Camden, England. The first billboard had the band's new name, and the second had the words "It Must Change" handwritten in all caps. The caption on the post confirmed that "It Must Change" is the name of the band's upcoming single.[31][32] "It Must Change" was released on May 16, with a music video directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard and starring Munroe Bergdorf. On the same day, the band announced their fifth album My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross, released on July 7 by Secretly Canadian.[33] A portrait of Marsha P. Johnson by Alvin Baltrop was featured on the album's cover. Music videos followed for "Sliver of Ice", ""Why Am I Alive Now?" (direct by Hunter Schafer), and "Scapegoat", directed by Sara Hegarty. The album was chosen as #1 Album of 2023 by The New Yorker.[34]

Band members[edit]

Current members

  • Anohni – lead vocals, piano (1995–present)
  • Johanna Constantine – dancer (1995–present)
  • Maxim Moston – violin (1999–present)
  • Julia Kent – cello (1999–present)
  • Rob Moose – guitar, violin (2004–present)
  • Doug Wieselman – guitar, clarinet, soprano, and baritone saxophone (2004–present)
  • Gael Rakotondrabe – piano (2010–present)
  • Jimmy Hogarth – guitar (2023)
  • Leo Abrahams – guitar, piano (2023)
  • Chris Vatalaro – drums (2023)
  • Sam Dixon – bass (2023)

Other members

  • Julia Yasuda – narrator/performer/model (1996–2018)
  • Reuben Butchart – piano (1998–2001)
  • Tahrah Cohen – drums (1997–2005)
  • Baby Dee – harp (1997–1998)
  • Joan Wasser – viola (1999–2005)
  • Jeff Langston – bass (2000–2009)
  • Parker Kindred – drums (2004–2009)
  • Thomas Bartlett – piano (2010–2022)


  • Anohni, Erika Yasuda, Julia Yasuda, SHE WHO SAW BEAUTIFUL THINGS, Rebis Music, 2019
  • Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Anohni: My Truth, Konig Books, 2017
  • Antony and the Johnsons, Swanlights, Abrams Image, 2010
  • Jerome Solal, La Voix d'Antony, Le Mot et le Reste, 2011


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected details, chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Chart peak positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Antony and the Johnsons
  • Released: February 8, 2000
  • Label: Durtro
59 118[45]
I Am a Bird Now 69 71 38 45 58 4 22 16
The Crying Light
  • Released: January 19, 2009
  • Label: Secretly Canadian
65 33 21 3 4 15 4 4 2 18
  • Released: October 11, 2010
  • Label: Secretly Canadian
122 70 30 20 16 29 10 4 9 28
My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross
  • Released: July 7, 2023
  • Label: Secretly Canadian
[A] 52 42
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that country.

Live albums[edit]

List of live albums, with selected details and chart positions
Title Album details Chart peak positions
Live at St. Olave's Church
  • Released: 2003
  • 1st live release, three songs on a split EP with Current 93
  • Label: Durtro
Cut the World
  • Released: 2012
  • 2nd live release, 1st full-length live album
  • Label: Rough Trade
24 31 20 27 2 11 28 27 41
Del suo veloce volo
(with Franco Battiato)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that country.

Soundtrack albums[edit]

List of soundtrack albums, with selected details and chart positions
Title Details Chart peak positions
  • Released: 2014
  • Soundtrack for Turning by Charles Atlas
  • Format: CD and DVD
146 70

Singles and EPs[edit]

Year Single / EP Chart peak positions Record
(main single /
main track on EP)

1998 "Cripple and the Starfish" (single) Antony and the Johnsons
2001 I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy (EP)
* "I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy" /
* "Mysteries of Love" /
* "Soft Black Stars"
2003 "Calling for Vanished Faces" /
"Virgin Mary"
(7" Promo split single, 500 copies)
Current 93
2004 The Lake (EP)
* "The Lake" /
* "Fistful of Love" /
* "The Horror Has Gone"
Secretly Canadian "Fistful of Love" from
I Am a Bird Now
2005 Hope There's Someone (EP)
* "Hope There's Someone" /
* "Frankenstein" /
* "Just One Star"
44 Secretly Canadian "Hope There's Someone" from
I Am a Bird Now
You Are My Sister (EP)
* "You Are My Sister" /
* "Poorest Ear" /
* "Forest of Love" /
* "Paddy's Gone"
190 96 39 Secretly Canadian /
Rough Trade
"You Are My Sister" from
I Am a Bird Now
2006 I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy (EP, reissued) Rebis Music
2008 Another World (EP)
* "Another World" /
* "Crackagen" /
* "Shake That Devil" /
* "Sing for Me" /
* "Hope Mountain"
179 36 33 6 Secretly Canadian "Another World" from
The Crying Light
2009 "Epilepsy Is Dancing" (single)
* "Epilepsy Is Dancing" /
* "Where Is My Power?"
79 Secretly Canadian "Epilepsy Is Dancing" from
The Crying Light
"Aeon" / "Crazy in Love" (Double A-side single)
* "Aeon" /
* "Crazy in Love" (Beyoncé cover)
14 Secretly Canadian "Aeon" from
The Crying Light
2010 Thank You for Your Love (EP)
* "Thank You for Your Love" /
* "You Are the Treasure" /
* "My Lord My Love" /
* "Pressing On" (Bob Dylan cover)
* "Imagine" (John Lennon cover)
54 Secretly Canadian "Thank You for Your Love" from
Swanlights (EP)
* "Swanlights" /
* "Find The Rhythm of Your Love" /
* "Kissing No One" /
* "Swanlights" OPN Edit
Secretly Canadian /
Rough Trade
"Swanlights" from
2012 "Cut the World (live)"
(with Danish National Chamber Orchestra) (single)
188 88 Secretly Canadian Cut the World
2013 "Fistful of Love" 58 I Am a Bird Now
2023 "It Must Change" My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross


  1. ^ My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross did not enter the Billboard 200 but peaked at number 53 on the Current Album Sales chart.[48]


Awards and nominations for Anohni and the Johnsons
Year Awards Work Category Result Ref.
2005 Mercury Prize I Am a Bird Now Album of the Year Won
Shortlist Music Prize Nominated
Antville Music Video Awards "Hope There's Someone" Best Video Nominated
MOJO Awards Antony and the Johnsons Best New Act Nominated
2006 Danish Music Awards Best International Newcomer Won
PLUG Awards Artist of the Year Nominated
Live Act of the Year Nominated
"Hope There's Someone" Song of the Year Nominated
I Am a Bird Now Album of the Year Nominated
Meteor Music Awards Best International Album Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards Antony and the Johnsons Outstanding Music Artist Nominated
2009 Rober Awards Music Poll Best Songwriter Won
"Crazy in Love" Best Cover Version Nominated
2010 Best Art Vinyl Swanlights Best Art Vinyl Nominated [52]
Sweden GAFFA Awards Antony and the Johnsons Best Foreign Solo Act Won [53]
2011 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Music Artist Nominated
2012 Lunas del Auditorio Best Foreign Rock Artist Nominated
UK Music Video Awards "Cut the World" Best Alternative Video – UK Nominated
2013 Music Video Festival Best International Video Nominated [54]


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