Although it is a title the singer has been using in private for years, Anohni is the publically new spirit name of Antony Hogarty, the lead singer of Antony and the Johnsons and the composer and co-producer behind her debut solo album, Hopelessness. She collaborated with Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never to create the work, which has been widely celebrated for its ambitious sound – loud, aggressive, and tackling issues presenting long and short-term threats to the human race. The bassy tones are fraught with feedback and imperfections. Static sweeps of noise and colorful electronics explode between the headphones.
Global warming, the death penalty, drone bombings, Transgender rights, violent men, American dreams – the singer portrays a rather dystopian present with her powerful, emotive voice, recalling the empassioned energy of Nina Simone. These are all issues important to Anohni, and there are many more personal narratives intertwined as well; it is clear the artist has faced many struggles in the process of seeking recognition in a hostile American music business.
She sees the danger. Remarking on the state of the current developed world in an interview with The Fader, she said: “All I’m trying to do is say I’m grappling with these questions and I feel like everyone is…everyone I’ve played it to is thinking the same thing but no one’s saying it.”
In 1990, when she was Antony, Anohni worked in New York with some of the greats of experimental music. The first Antony and the Johnson gig (the band was named after Marsha P. Johnson, a gay, transgender and AIDS rights activist, and active participant in the New York City Stonewall Riots) was at a William Basinski-curated event.
She won a Mercury Prize on an album featuring a host of fearless singers, including Lou Reed, Boy George, and Devendra Braveheart. She toured Europe for an experimental film performance. Recently, as part of a weeklong exposition of visually and aurally stunning work to kick off the Edinburgh Fringe, Anohni performed with Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke for the first time. Although she became the second transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar for her ‘eco-cide’ concerned song ‘Manta Ray’, she boycotted the ceremony, in retaliation to their indifference to her cause.
A phenomenal and dramatic musician, Anohni has made it her goal to never shy away from commenting on inequalities and the failures of humanity. She highlights, in extremely bold terms, the plight of this planet if we continue to ignore our duty to it.
Photo: Fact Mag