Antony Hegarty (born 1971), often referred to simply as Antony, 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 town of Chichester, South East England, in 1971. In 1981 Antony's family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States. Becoming influenced by British synth pop, in 1990 he moved to Manhattan, New York to study at New York University; here, he founded a performance art collective, Blacklips, with Johanna Constantine.
Entering a musical career, he 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.
Antony Hegarty was born in Chichester,West Sussex, England, UK, in 1971. In 1977, his family moved to Amsterdam for a year, and then, in 1981, they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area of California where he grew up. As a teenager, he was influenced by Kate Bush as well as British synth pop - 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. He 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.
Antony and the Johnsons:
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 he wrote in the early 1990s. 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. 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".
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 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)"Le Monde in Paris hailed TURNING as "Concert-manifeste transsexuel."
Antony and the Johnsons' 5-song Another World EP was released on October 7, 2008. Antony and the Johnsons' third album, The Crying Light, was released on January 19, 2009. The album peaked at number 1 on the European Billboard charts. Antony has described the theme of the album as being "about landscape and the future." 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."
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. 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.
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.
In January 2011, Antony was a guest on "Winterguest", a program on Dutch Television's VPRO channel and was interviewed by Leon Verdonschot discussing his 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".
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." This collaboration was also staged at the Royal Opera House in London in 2013.
Antony and the Johnsons released a live symphonic album in August 2012 entitled Cut The World featuring the Danish Radio Orchestra. The album features a spoken track called "Future Feminism" in which Antony elaborates on his 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.
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.
"Blood on the Door"
"You Stand Above Me" - Antony (1:36)
Live at St. Olaves
split EP with Current 93
"The Lake" - Antony (4:48)
"Cripple And The Starfish" - Antony (4:51)
"A Little Bit of Time"
"Old Whore's Diet"
"Happy Xmas (War is over)" with Boy George
Help!: A Day in the Life
War Child album
"Idumea" / "The Beautiful Dancing Dust"
Black Ships Ate the Sky
Songs from the Coalmine Canary
"Semen Song for James Bidgood"
The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast
Joan as Policewoman
"If It Be Your Will"
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
Leonard Cohen tribute
"One More Try"
My Robot Friend
"Living The Blues"
Trouble: The Jamie Saft Trio Plays Bob Dylan
Jamie Saft Trio
Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys
"Leave Her Johnny"
Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys
"Keep in Touch"
"The Dull Flame of Desire" / "My Juvenile"
"The Ballad of the Sad Young Men"
"Knocking on Heaven's Door"
I'm Not There
The Snow Abides
"God With No Tear"
"Del suo veloce volo"
"Ooh Baby Baby"
Easy Come, Easy Go
"Will I Ever Learn"
Was muss muss
"Be Good To Earth This Season" w/Kría Brekkan
split 7" single
"I Was Young When I Left Home"
Dark Was The Night
with The Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra
"Stranger Perfumes" & "Another Day In America"
Oneohtrix Point Never
"Who am I to feel so free?"
Talk About Body
"Prisoner of Love"
See the Light
"Tearz For Animals"
We Are On Fire - Single
"Particle of Light"
See You On The Ice
Carice van Houten
Tales of a GrassWidow
"Mourned Winter Then"
I Am the Last of All the Field That Fell: A Channel
In addition to Antony and the Johnsons, Antony occasionally collaborates with other musicians. In 2003, he 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. He 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, he 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.
Later in 2006 he 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 Hegarty 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".
In 2008, Antony was featured on five tracks from the self-titled disco album Hercules and Love Affair, most notably on "Blind", which was voted best track of 2008 by Pitchfork Media and ranked at number 2 on the "10 Best Singles of 2008" list by American magazine Entertainment Weekly.
Antony worked with Bernard Butler on some acoustic sessions for the radio station XFM. In June 2009, he appeared live with Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band at Ornette Coleman's Meltdown at the Royal Festival Hall, singing Ono's "Toyboat". In the same year, he 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:
Appears in Steve Buscemi's Animal Factory (2000) singing "Rapture",
Performs "I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy" in the French film Wild Side (2004),
Featured singing "If It Be Your Will" in the documentary, Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man (2005),
"Hope There's Someone" in the movie The Secret Life of Words (2005),
The song "Bird Gerhl" plays on the jukebox while Evey and V dance in V for Vendetta (2006),
"Hope There's Someone" in the Torchwood episode, "Random Shoes" (2006),
"River of Sorrow" in the "Bones" episode, "The He in the She" (2008),
Featured on the soundtrack of the Bob Dylan biographical film biopic I'm Not There singing Knocking on Heaven's Door.,
"Hope there's someone" plays during the end sequence of episode 8 of the first season of the crime drama series Saving Grace,
"Fistful of love" plays during a scene of a French movie Les Petits Mouchoirs from Guillaume Canet in 2011.,
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, he went on to have solo exhibitions at Isis Gallery in London and Accademia Albertina in Turin, Italy. In April 2009, he curated an exhibition entitled "6 Eyes" at the Agnes B. Galerie Du Jour in Paris. In this exhibition he drew connections between his 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. 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. He is also a serious visual artist. His first solo show in New York follows exhibitions in Los Angeles and London, and introduces a sensibility that is consistent with his heart-rending songs and warbling delivery: fragile, falling apart but surviving, even defiant."
In 2007, Antony created an original soundtrack for a video by Nick Knight featuring the designs of Hussein Chalayan. He collaborated in 2008 with Prada to create a song called "The Great White Ocean" for their promotional campaign. In 2009, he 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.
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.
Antony was the curator of Meltdown 2012 at the Southbank Centre in London.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license