Antony Hegarty

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Antony Hegarty
Antony Hegarty in 2008, at a grand piano singing into a microphone, in a black suit with hes hair lank, against a projected-visual backdrop.
Antony Hegarty in 2008
Background information
Also known asAntony
Born1971 (age 43–44)
Chichester, Sussex, England, United Kingdom
OriginNew York City, United States
GenresChamber pop
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, piano, keyboards
Associated actsAntony and the Johnsons, Hercules and Love Affair, Björk, Lou Reed
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Antony Hegarty
Antony Hegarty in 2008, at a grand piano singing into a microphone, in a black suit with hes hair lank, against a projected-visual backdrop.
Antony Hegarty in 2008
Background information
Also known asAntony
Born1971 (age 43–44)
Chichester, Sussex, England, United Kingdom
OriginNew York City, United States
GenresChamber pop
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, piano, keyboards
Associated actsAntony and the Johnsons, Hercules and Love Affair, Björk, Lou Reed

Antony Hegarty (born 1971), often referred to simply as Antony,[1] is an English singer, composer, and visual artist, best known as the lead singer of the band Antony and the Johnsons.

Antony was born in the city of Chichester, England, in 1971. In 1981 Antony's family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States. In 1990 she moved to Manhattan, New York to study at New York University, where she founded a performance art collective (Blacklips) with Johanna Constantine.

Entering a musical career, she began 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 Antony the Mercury Music Prize.

Early life[edit]

Antony Hegarty was born in Chichester,[1] West Sussex, England, UK, in 1971. In 1977, her family moved to Amsterdam for a year,[2] 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, Antony 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.[3]

Antony is transgender and uses feminine 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."[4]

Antony and the Johnsons[edit]

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, Antony solicited accompanying musicians to record a number of songs she wrote in the early 1990s.[5] 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.[6] 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, Antony 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".[7]

The Southbank Centre, London in August 2012, during Antony's Meltdown Festival.

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[8] 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. 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)"[9] 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.[10] Antony has described the theme of the album as being "about landscape and the future."[11] 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."[12]

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.[13] 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, Antony appeared in a costume designed by Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy.[14]

Antony performing "Blind" as a part of the Hercules and Love Affair collective during the 2012 Meltdown Festival at London's Southbank Centre.

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 Antony's drawings and collages with photography by Don Felix Cervantes. At the end of October Antony performed a special concert in New York City at Lincoln Center to commemorate the life of Kazuo Ohno who had died in June 2010.[15]

In January 2011, Antony 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.

Antony performed at the TED conference in Long Beach in 2011 in a session on "Radical Collaboration".[16]

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."[17] This collaboration was also staged at the Royal Opera House in London in 2013 and at Teatro Real in Madrid in 2014.[18][19]

Antony and the Johnsons released a live symphonic album in August 2012 entitled Cut The World featuring the Danish Radio Orchestra.[20] The album features a spoken track called "Future Feminism" in which Antony 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.[21]

Antony 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.[22][23]

Musical collaborations[edit]

"Blood on the Door"Breadcrumb SinsJamie Saft2002
"You Stand Above Me" – Antony (1:36)Live at St. Olavessplit EP with Current 932003
"The Lake" – Antony (4:48)
"Cripple and the Starfish" – Antony (4:51)
"Perfect Day"The RavenLou Reed2003
"Candy Says"Animal SerenadeLou Reed2004
"A Little Bit of Time"Red TapeBrooks2004
"Old Whore's Diet"Want TwoRufus Wainwright2004
"Beautiful Boyz"Noah's ArkCocoRosie2005
"Happy Xmas (War is over)" with Boy GeorgeHelp!: A Day in the LifeWar Child album2005
"Idumea" / "The Beautiful Dancing Dust"Black Ships Ate the SkyCurrent 932006
(several)Songs from the Coalmine Canary[24]Little Annie2006
"Semen Song for James Bidgood"The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a BeastMatmos2006
"I Defy"Real LifeJoan as Policewoman2006
"If It Be Your Will"Leonard Cohen: I'm Your ManLeonard Cohen tribute2006
"One More Try"Dial 0My Robot Friend2006
"Living The Blues"Trouble: The Jamie Saft Trio Plays Bob DylanJamie Saft Trio2006
"Lowlands Low"Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and ChanteysBryan Ferry2006
"Leave Her Johnny"Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and ChanteysLou Reed2006
"Keep in Touch"Speaks VolumesNico Muhly2006
"The Dull Flame of Desire" / "My Juvenile"VoltaBjörk2007
"The Ballad of the Sad Young Men"Stardom RoadMarc Almond2007
"Beauty"Versatile HeartLinda Thompson2007
"Knocking on Heaven's Door"[25]I'm Not Theresoundtrack2007
(all)The Snow AbidesMichael Cashmore2007
"God With No Tear"Visionaire53 Sound2007
"Del suo veloce volo"Fleurs 2Franco Battiato2008
"Ooh Baby Baby"Easy Come, Easy GoMarianne Faithfull2008
"Will I Ever Learn"Was muss mussHerbert Grönemeyer2008
"Be Good To Earth This Season" w/Kría Brekkansplit 7" singleReverend Green2008
"I Was Young When I Left Home"Dark Was The Nightcharity album2009
"Nessun Dorma"Lavazza campaignwith The Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra2009
"Stranger Perfumes" & "Another Day in America"HomelandLaurie Anderson2010
"Returnal"ReturnalOneohtrix Point Never2010
"Who am I to feel so free?"MENTalk About Body2011
"Prisoner of Love"[26]See the LightJessica 62011
"Tearz For Animals"We Are on Fire – SingleCocoRosie2012
"Particle of Light"See You on the IceCarice van Houten2012
"Poison"Tales of a GrassWidowCocoRosie2013
"Mourned Winter Then"I Am the Last of All the Field That Fell: A ChannelCurrent 932014
"Atom Dance"VulnicuraBjörk2015

In addition to Antony and the Johnsons, Antony 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. Hegarty 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.[27]

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 Antony 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".[28]

In 2008, Antony was featured on five tracks from the self-titled disco album Hercules and Love Affair, most notably on "Blind",[29] which was voted best track of 2008 by Pitchfork Media[30] and ranked at number 2 on the "10 Best Singles of 2008" list by American magazine Entertainment Weekly.[31]

Antony worked with Bernard Butler on some acoustic sessions for the radio station XFM.[32] 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".[33] 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[edit]

Other projects[edit]

In July 2008, Antony 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 Antony's drawings and sculptures opened at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in January 2012.[35] A solo exhibition of Antony'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 Antony, 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." [36] A further exhibition that included Antony's drawings opened in September 2014 at Sikkemma Jenkins gallery in NYC.[37]

In 2007, Antony 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. Antony 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.[38]

During the 2011 Manchester International Festival Antony 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 Antony. The piece has subsequently been staged in Madrid, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Basel, Toronto (as part of the Luminato Festival) and NYC.[39]

Antony was the curator of Meltdown 2012 at the Southbank Centre in London.[40]

Collaborating with Johanna Constantine, Kembra Pfahler, and Bianca and Sierra Casady, Antony 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.[41][42]


  1. ^ a b Hodgman, John (4 September 2005). "Antony Finds His Voice". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Audio interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, via NPR 2-3-09.
  3. ^ "Blacklips Chronology". Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "We Will All Howl: Antony Hegarty on the State of Transfeminism". Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "NYFA Interactive – New York Foundation for the Arts". Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "Articles: Another World | Features". Pitchfork. 4 August 2009. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "Durtro Discography". 8 February 2003. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "Antony and Johnsons win Mercury". BBC News. 7 September 2005. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  9. ^ Gittins, Ian (7 November 2006). "Turning, Barbican, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  10. ^ Sexton, Paul (29 January 2009). "Antony Lights Up Euro Albums Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  11. ^ Lindsay, Cam (22 May 2008). "New Antony and the Johnsons Album out in September". Exclaim!. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  12. ^ Powers, Ann (20 January 2009). "Album review: Antony and the Johnsons' 'The Crying Light'". LA Times. Archived from the original on 29 August 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  13. ^ Hall, Risa (6 July 2009). "Antony and the Johnsons: review". BBC News. Retrieved 25 April 2010. 
  14. ^ "Tisci and Antony... Michael Jackson Crystallized... Lucy Liu Around Town...". Women's Wear Daily. 25 June 2009. Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  15. ^ "Fluid Voice With a Fluid Persona Firmly Attached". New York Times. 31 October 2010. 
  16. ^ "TED2011: Speakers A-Z". Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  17. ^ Pareles, Jon (27 January 2012). "Antony and the Johnsons at Radio City Music Hall". The New York Times. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Antony and the Johnsons Announce Live Album | News". Pitchfork. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  21. ^ "Director's Cut: Antony and the Johnsons: "Cut the World" | Features". Pitchfork. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  22. ^ "Antony and the Johnsons light up Melbourne Festival – Blog – ABC Arts". Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  23. ^ "Melbourne Review". Melbourne Review. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  24. ^ "Little Annie, Songs from the Coal Mine Canary". Brainwashed. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  25. ^ a b Antony and the Johnsons News
  26. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (21 April 2011). "Pitchfork: Listen: Antony Collaborates With Jessica 6". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  27. ^, "Björk – Dull Flame of Desire – Madison Square Garden 9.24.07". 
  28. ^ "my favourite ad: Levi’s Dangerous Liaisons". Design is___. 22 May 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  29. ^ "Singer Antony & The Johnsons featured on 'Blind' by Hercules and Love Affair". Side-Line. 19 February 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  30. ^ "The 100 Best Tracks of 2008". Pitchfork Media. 15 December 2008. Archived from the original on 28 August 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  31. ^ "10 Best Singles of 2008". Entertainment Weekly. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  32. ^ "Antony and the Johnsons". XFM. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  33. ^ "Ono's Supergroup". BBC News. 15 June 2009. Retrieved 12 September 2010. 
  34. ^ Holden, Stephen (10 June 2005). "Wild Side (2004): Visions of a Dangerous and Beautiful World". New York Times. 
  35. ^ Binlot, Ann (23 January 2012). "Antony Hegarty Storms Art World With MoMA Performance and Hammer Show". Artinfo. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  36. ^ "Antony "The Cut"". New YOrk TImes. 28 June 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  37. ^
  38. ^ "Antony performs for Givenchy". 16 July 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  39. ^ "The Life and Death of Marina Abramović Robert Wilson, Marina Abramović, Antony, Willem Dafoe". 1 March 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  40. ^ "Meltdown | 2012: Yoko Ono's Meltdown". Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  41. ^
  42. ^

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