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Anohni

Singer, Composer, Visual Artist

Anohni is an English-born singer, composer, and visual artist who lives in New York. Her last album, Hopelessness, was released in 2016. Previously, she spoke to the Creative Independent about art, corporations, and the music industry.

How important is it at this point that people “get” the work? As you pursue ideas that feel important or necessary to you as an artist, how much concern do you have at this point for the audience?

For me, art making is communication. There is a strong element of intuition to it. Often I am not attempting to deliver a punchline as much as I am reaching towards expressing a more spectral sense of my own truth that might be harder to nail down in a straight conversation. Music can speak to the hearts of others, whether or not the listener grasps the lyrical content. This is something that surprised me touring countries where people didn’t understand many of the lyrics and yet still seemed to respond to a singing voice. Visual art can sometimes be more coded and personal, requiring more reference to find a meaningful way in. Of course, you could apply the pop music rule and just go with your gut in either case, trusting the zeitgeist of your culture to have you up-to-date on ways of seeing and just use the work as an ink blot.

How important is it at this point that people “get” the work? As you pursue ideas that feel important or necessary to you as an artist, how much concern do you have at this point for the audience?

I like the idea of an artwork being able to reach into the imaginations and neural pathways of others and be transformed in that process. On the other hand, it can be disheartening at times when you realize that an audience isn’t perceiving your core intentions or values, and it can be hard to let go of the desire to control people’s opinions about what you are trying to do. Being misperceived or misrepresented is one of the potential outcomes of expressing yourself. I have not regretted taking that risk in my work. It’s nice to be brave. I encourage all artists to be as brave as you possibly can. I learned how to put myself out there by watching my heroes do the same thing: murmuring, crying out, framing their sense of truth and offering it forward. It’s a way of living, and there’s no turning back. The people who I most admire are those who have done this with relentless courage.

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