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Music / ANOHNI and the Johnsons
aka: Antony And The Johnsons

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ANOHNI and the Johnsons are the group performing the musical works of ANOHNI (formerly Antony Hegarty).

The group released their debut album in 1998, after ANOHNI was discovered by British experimental musician David Tibet (of Current 93 fame), who offered to release her music on his own label Durtro. Their self-titled debut didn't really make a splash commercially or critically, and thus three years went on before the next EP, I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy which, along with the title track, contained a David Lynch/Angelo Bardalamenti cover from their Twin Peaks soundtrack collaboration and a Current 93 cover, as a tribute to Tibet.

The EP found its way to Hal Wilner, who played it to his friend Lou Reed, who was quickly enamored by ANOHNI's unique voice and Baroque Pop style. The Velvet Underground legend quickly recruited Hegarty for his upcoming record The Raven and the exposure enabled ANOHNI to ink a deal with American label Secretly Canadian. The band then released another EP entitled The Lake (on which Lou Reed lends his vocals for a feature), whilst Secretly Canadian also re-released their debut album in America in 2004.

A year later, the band's second full-length album I Am a Bird Now was released, and was met with both commercial and critical success, even earning ANOHNI a Mercury Award and some unkind words from supposed favorite Kaiser Chiefs, who claimed ANOHNI shouldn't be allowed to win as, even though being born in the UK, she lived and worked in the US. Yeah... ANOHNI then worked with a myriad of creative individuals for different projects, lending her skills to produce music for works such as the movie adaption of V for Vendetta.

In the middle of January 2009, the band's third full-length album The Crying Light was released and went straight to #1 on the Billboard list, garnering further critical praise for its many themes, as well as the evolving musicianship of ANOHNI and her group members. The group then toured extensively, often performing with symphonic orchestras. In June 2010 the group ended their touring in Japan, where ANOHNI, along with William Basinski and Johanna Constantine, performed with Yoshito Ohno, the son of 103-year old Kazuo Ohno, depicted on the cover of The Crying Light. The elderly dancer died the following June, and ANOHNI wrote an obituary for him in English paper The Guardian.

October 2010 saw the release of the group's fourth full-length album Swanlights, released simultaneously with a book of the same name containing ANOHNI's drawings and collages made in collaboration with photographer Don Felix Cervantes, once again showcasing ANOHNI's creativity and talent. To no one's surprise, the album was met with critical and commercial success, earning several high placements on different media's end of the year lists and cementing the group in the music industry.

ANOHNI was chosen to curate Meltdown 2012, an annual festival at Southbank Centre in London wherein a musician is picked to choose the entire lineup. Previous curators include Nick Cave, Patti Smith and David Bowie.

After coming out as transgender, she has started releasing solo material under her current name. Her solo debut album Hopelessness was released in 2016.


ANOHNI and the Johnsons are:

  • ANOHNI (formerly Antony) Hegarty - lead vocals, piano
  • Julia Kent (previously of Rasputina) - cello
  • Parker Kindred - drummer
  • Jeff Langston - bassist
  • Doug Wieselman - horns
  • Maxim Moston - violin, arrangement
  • Rob Moose - guitar, violin
  • Thomas Bartlett - piano

Discography

Studio albums:

  • Antony and the Johnsons (1998)
  • I Am a Bird Now (2005)
  • The Crying Light (2009)
  • Swanlights (2010)
  • My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross (2023)

EPs:

  • The Lake (2004)
  • Hope There's Someone (2005)
  • You Are My Sister (2005)
  • I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy (2006)
  • Another World (2008)
  • Thank You for Your Love (2010)
  • Swanlights (2011)

ANOHNI solo:

  • Hopelessness (2016)

Relevant Tropes:

  • Album Closure: I Am a Bird Now has a surprisingly hopeful ending for such a sad album, with ANONHI proclaiming the album's title.
  • Album Title Drop: My Back Was a Bridge For You To Cross on "You Be Free."
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: "For Today I Am a Boy" is usually interpreted as being about a young trans girl, which is largely helped by ANOHNI's own transgender identity. However, it has a few other interpretations as well.
  • Animal Motif: Birds, due to symbolism of flying and freedom. Obvious examples are I Am a Bird Now, and "Bird Gerhl," but there's also "Swanlights" and "One Dove."
    I'm a bird girl
    And bird girls can fly
  • Artist and the Band: The Johnsons are a reference to transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson (while no member of the band has Johnson in their name). A photo of Johnson appears on the cover of My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross.
  • Baroque Pop: One of the heavy-hitters.
  • Break Up Song: "I Don't Love You Anymore."
  • Cover Version: ANOHNI has solo covers of "Be My Husband" by Nina Simone, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" by Bob Dylan, and "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor.
  • Downer Beginning: I Am a Bird Now starts with "Hope There's Someone," which some might tell you is the saddest song ever written.
  • Earth Song: ANOHNI is a big environmental activist, and many of the songs on Hopelessness are of a Green Aesop variety, notably "4 Degrees."
  • Face on the Cover: Subverted. Many of their album covers features the faces of people that are not ANOHNI. Played straight on Hopelessness though her face is obscured and distorted.
  • Gaia's Lament: "4 Degrees," about global warming and climate change.
    I want to burn the sky, I want to burn the breeze
    I want to see the animals die in the trees
  • Grief Song: "Can't."
    You are dead and oh so far away
    While I am here, stranded among the living
  • I Am the Band: Their music is almost entirely written by ANOHNI herself.
  • The Invisible Band: The music video for "Drone Bomb Me" features Naomi Campbell lip-syncing the song, which has led to some confusion to those unfamiliar with either of them that Naomi was actually the one singing.
  • Live Album: Turning.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Unusually for an I Am the Band setup, the band consisted of the above lineup for much of its existence.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Scapegoat" is pretty baroque pop ballad that starts with the lyric, "You're so killable."
  • New Sound Album: ANOHNI's solo album is this, taking on an electronic sound with production from Oneohtrix Point Never.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Sort of. ANOHNI has created several tracks for both movies and other endeavors, but she's usually hired because of the loads of orchestral stuff she throws in her own music.
  • Protest Song: Unabashedly unafraid to get political. Hopelessness has many environmental songs, anti-war anthem "Drone Bomb Me," and a full on Take That! to Barack Obama. "Scapegoat" is about the political outrage and subsequent hate crimes against transgender people.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Fistful Of Love" begins with spoken-word from Lou Reed.
  • Textless Album Cover: Nearly all of them except for Swanlights and My Back Was a Bridge For You To Cross.
  • Trans Tribulations: Songs such as "For Today I Am a Boy" and "Scapegoat."

Alternative Title(s): Antony And The Johnsons

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