Antony and the Johnsons
Antony and the Johnsons is an American band, led by the singer, musician and songwriter Antony Hegarty.
Antony and the Johnsons: Background Story
Antony Hegarty's music was first released when the British musician David Tibet (of Current 93) heard one of Antony's demos and offered to release the tracks through his label, Durtro. Hegarty's debut album, Antony and the Johnsons was released in 2000. The following year, an EP was released entitled 'I Fell In Love With A Dead Boy'. The EP featured a cover of 'Mysteries of Love', which was originally written by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch, as well as a cover of the Current 93 song 'Soft Black Stars'. Durtro also released a live album in 2003, named Live at St. Olave's.
Lou Reed (of Velvet Underground) was given the EP by the producer Hal Willner. Reed instantly asked Hegarty to be a part of his recording sessions for The Raven. The project aimed to recount the poems of Edgar Allen Poe with musical accompaniment. Laurie Anderson, David Bowie and Steve Buscemi were all also involved in the recordings.
Following the release of The Raven, Antony Hegarty signed to Secretly Canadian. His new label released another EP, entitled The Lake, as well as re-releasing his debut album, with a wider distribution network.
Antony Hegarty's second album, released in 2005, was I Am a Bird Now. The album received widespread positive reviews, helped along by appearances from Rufus Wainwright, Devendra Banhart, Lou Reed and Boy George. In September of that year, Antony and the Johnsons became the surprise winners of that year's Mercury Music Prize. Kaiser Chiefs - a British band that were also in the running for the prize - appeared bitter at having lost out to Antony and the Johnsons, arguing that Antony's eligibility for the prize was flimsy, as, although he was born in the UK, he had lived much of his life in the USA. Kaiser Chiefs later apologised for suggesting that he wasn't a worthy recipient of the prize.
In 2006, Antony and the Johnsons worked with the film-maker Charles Atlas on a production named 'Turning'. The film showed thirteen portraits of New York's women stars and was praised by the likes of The Guardian and Le Monde.
2008 saw Antony and the Johnsons release their 'Another World EP'. This was followed, in January 2009, by the release of their third studio album, The Crying Light. Nico Muhly aided the arrangements on the album, which was mixed by Bryce Goggin. At the 2009 Manchester International Festival, Antony and the Johnsons performed The Crying Light in a concert hall that had been transformed into a crystal cave. A laser installation was created by the artist Chris Levine. When the band performed in Paris, Antony wore a costume that had been designed for him by Ricardo Tisci of the Givenchy fashion house.
The members of Antony and the Johnsons (besides Antony Hegarty) now include Julia Kent on cello, Jeff Langston on bass, Parker Kindred on drums, Rob Moose on guitar and violin and Doug Wieselman on horns.