Antony and the Johnsons  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Antony and the Johnsons is a music act from New York City. The band is essentially the vehicle for singer Antony (full name Antony Hegarty).



Antony Hegarty is the leader of Antony and the Johnsons. He was born in Chichester, West Sussex, England in 1971 and moved to Amsterdam in 1977 for a period before settling in San Jose, California in 1981. As a teenager he was enthused by the British synth pop of the time — in particular emotive torch singers such as Marc Almond and Boy George. In 1990 he moved to Manhattan to complete a degree in Experimental Theatre at New York University and founded the performance collective Blacklips Performance Cult with creative partner Johanna Constantine.

Current members include:

  • Julia Kent (previously of Rasputina) - first chair cello
  • Parker Kindred - drummer
  • Jeff Langston - bassist
  • Doug Wieselman - horns
  • Maxim Moston - violin, arrangement
  • Rob Moose - guitar, violin

Their early live shows were often opened by Dr. Julia Yasuda, an intersex person, who performed the welcome in Morse code.

One theme explored in the band's music is aspects of transgender life. This is expressed in songs such as "For Today I Am A Boy", in which a young boy dreams of growing up to be a woman.

British experimental musician David Tibet of Current 93 heard a demo and offered to release Antony's music through his Durtro label. The debut album, Antony and the Johnsons, was released in 2000. In 2001, Antony 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 cover of a Current 93 song.

Producer Hal Willner heard the EP and played it to Lou Reed, who immediately recruited him for his project The Raven. Now gaining more attention, Antony signed to US-based record label Secretly Canadian, and released another EP, The Lake, with Lou Reed guest-performing on one of the tracks. Secretly Canadian also re-released Antony's debut album in the United States to wider distribution in 2004.

Antony's second full-length album, 2005's I Am a Bird Now, was greeted with positive reviews and significantly more mainstream attention, winning the Mercury Music Prize for the best album of 2005. Rival Mercury nominees, and favourites for the prize, the Kaiser Chiefs suggested that Antony got in on a technicality; despite the fact he was born in the United Kingdom he spent much of his time in the US - although they later apologised for the suggestion that he wasn't a deserving winner.

Antony made an appearance and performed Leonard Cohen's "If It Be Your Will" in the 2006 full-length documentary, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man.

Antony is mentioned by the press as being part of the New Weird America movement.

He appeared as a prison inmate, performing an acoustic version of the song "The Rapture" in Steve Buscemi's movie Animal Factory. He also made an appearance in the Sebastian Lifshitz movie Wild Side performing the song "I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy". In the Wachowski brothers' screen adaptation of V for Vendetta, the main characters dance to Antony's "Bird Gerhl" from I am a Bird Now as it plays on V's illicit Wurlitzer.

Antony's unconventional voice evokes comparisons to singers like Aaron Neville and Nina Simone. He has many fans in the music industry, including Kate Bush, Björk, Philip Glass, Marc Almond, Kembra Pfahler and Laurie Anderson as well as Lou Reed, Devendra Banhart, Rufus Wainwright and Boy George, who are guest vocalists on I Am a Bird Now.

In November 2006 Antony and the Johnsons performed a successful European tour of 'Turning', a multimedia collaboration with video producer Charles Atlas, which focussed on themes of transformation and metamorphosis:

He also sang back up on the song "I Defy" from Joan As Police Woman's 2006 debut album Real Life and appears on the Cocorosie album Noah's Ark (2005), in the song "Beautiful Boyz".

In 2006-07 Antony sang back up (with Sharon Jones and a children's choir) in Lou Reed's first full performance of his album Berlin. This was performed at St Ann's Warehouse in NYC in December 2006 and at The State Theatre in Sydney, Australia in January 2007.

Antony sings on "The Snow Abides", a mini-album by Michael Cashmore of Current 93. It comprises five songs, two of which are instrumental and three of which are sung by Antony. Antony is featured on two tracks ("The Dull Flame of Desire" and "My Juvenile") on Björk's 2007 album Volta. In addition, he duets with Marc Almond on the song Ballad of The Sad Young Men for Almond's album Stardom Road released in June 2007.

Antony and the Johnsons cover Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" on the soundtrack to Todd Haynes film I'm Not There, a biopic of Bob Dylan.

Antony can be heard on several tracks on Hercules and Love Affair's "euphoric disco" album most notably on the track "Blind" released March 2008. Antony and the Johnsons' third album, The Crying Light, is anticipated to be released in late 2008.



EPs and singles

Live albums

Miscellaneous appearances

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Antony and the Johnsons" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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