Category Archives: Bjork

Antony Hegarty – unearthly transmissions from a transgendered angel

[ARTIST: ANTONY AND THE JOHNSONS] [SONG: EPILEPSY IS DANCING]

Uniqueness is impossible to define, just like Antony Hegarty refuses to let himself be encapsulated or precisely labelled. Turning an epileptic seizure into a beautiful place to be, Antony once again proves to be a musical magician in a league of his own. This is the true and deeply touching poetry of pain, coming from a towering transgendered angel that is simply just out of this ordinary world. Or as Leonard Cohen put it: “We don’t know what produced this sublime creature. It is so original”.

Antony grew up in Chichester, England and later relocated with his family to California. He moved to New York in 1990 and founded a cabaret ensemble called Blacklips who performed  in the Pyramid Club in Manhattan.

In 2000, Antony and the Johnsons released their first album, simply entitled “Antony and the Johnsons”, after which Antony started working with Lou Reed who he also toured with in 2003 as backing vocalist. The major breakthrough came in 2005 with the album “I am a bird now”. The success came as a surprise for the always modest and humble Antony, who fast went from having quite a marginal  audience to being appreciated worldwide.

“Epilepsy is dancing” is from Antony and the Johnsons’ third studioalbum, “The Crying Light”, which was released in 2009. The cover artwork for the album is a photograph of one of Antony Hegarty’s greatest inspirations, the Japanese Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno, to who the album is also dedicated.

The beautiful music video was produced by the Wachowski Brothers (who also produced and directed The Matrix trilogy), and features an epileptic woman (played by Johanna Constantine, co-founder of Blacklips) who experiences a seizure and falls into a dreamworld full of body painted and semi-nude nymphs and colorful masks, while butterflies are coming out of Antony’s mouth. The video was clearly inspired by the Shakespeare play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream“.

Antony explained to Mojo Magazine that the lyrics: “I’m finding my rhythm as I twist in the snow” was just made up. He added: “We’re all twisting in the snow, trying to figure out who we are and how we can be in balance and harmony with the environment.”

Antony Hegarty also worked with Björk on “Dull Flame Of Desire“, and has described this collaboration as being very inspiring, seeing how creative and fearless Björk is in a studio, and how she is fully committed to what she does.

He also appeared in the Steve Buscemi film “Animal Factory“, playing an androgynous singing prisoner, and is also featured in the music video for Devendra Banhart’s “Heard Somebody Say” from 2005.

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Pagan Poetry – the sound of the inside

[ARTIST: BJÖRK] [SONG: PAGAN POETRY]


“Pagan Poetry” is Björk in one of her most intimate moments. A song about the strong sexual attraction between two people, and the little secrets and hidden codes through which lovers recognize each other.

The song is from Björk’s 2001 album, “Vespertine”, and features instruments such as the harp, celeste and a music box that she had custom made from transparent plexi-glass. There is a feeling of Icelandic winter on the whole album, and Björk herself has said about “Vespertine”: “I needed this album to explore what we sound like on the inside. It’s that ecstasy, that euphoric state that happens when whispering. It’s very much about being alone in your house, in a very quiet sort of introverted mood”. Björk wrote the material for most of this album back home in Iceland, and she had originally named it “Domestika”, but the title was later changed to “Vespertine” which makes perfect sense when you picture Björk working with her music in the wintertime on Iceland with only a few hours of light during the day.

The video for “Pagan Poetry” was directed by Nick Knight and created quite a stir when it came out. It was banned from MTV in United States because Björk appears topless in a dress designed by Alexander McQueen. When making the video Nick Knight gave Björk a mini DV camera, and asked her to record some scenes from her private love life. Björk’s own recordings turned out to be rather sexual, and they were used in the video. The more explicit scenes were altered with digital effects, but rumour has it that the beginning of “Pagan Poetry” is actually Björk and Matthew Barney, who she had a relationship with at the time, having sex.

The harpist on “Pagan Poetry” is Zeena Parkins, who also played the harp for Courtney Love’s band Hole on their MTV Unplugged performance.

The tattoo on Björk’s left upper arm is an ancient Icelandic symbol called “Vegvisir “, which was a sort of compass intended for guidance through rough or foggy weather back in the Viking Age. Björk has said that it makes sure she never gets lost.

Björk has performed “Pagan poetry” live many times, and a beautiful example is this recording from Riverside Church in New York with a Greenlandic choir.