ANOHNI Announces New Album by ANOHNI and the Johnsons + New Single + Video Starring Munroe Bergdorf
May 16, 2023
ANOHNI announces My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross, a new album by ANOHNI and the Johnsons, out July 7th and presents its lead single/video “It Must change” starring Munroe Bergdorf. The British-born, New York-based ANOHNI describes the creative process for My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross, her first album since 2016’s much-lauded HOPELESSNESS, as painstaking, yet also inspired, joyful, and intimate, a renewal and a renaming of her response to the world as she sees it. “I’ve been thinking a lot about Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. That was a really important touchstone in my mind,” says ANOHNI “Some of these songs respond from the present day to global and environmental concerns first voiced in popular music over 50 years ago.”
Pre-order “My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross” on exclusive yellow vinyl from the webstore, white vinyl from indie retail, heavyweight black vinyl available everywhere
In 2022, ANOHNI began working with noted soul producer Jimmy Hogarth (Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Tina Turner). Having always composed and produced previous Johnsons records, this kind of collaboration was a first for ANOHNI. ANOHNI brought in notebooks full of lyrical ideas, and together they sketched out a series of demos with Hogarth playing guitar and ANOHNI on piano. Hogarth then assembled a studio band — including Leo Abrahams, Chris Vatalaro, Sam Dixon and string arranger Rob Moose — to record the full album. Hogarth’s intuitive guitar leads the listener across ten songs, touching on elements of American soul, British folk and experimental music. There is tenderness and instrumental brutality; melody and dissonance.
The album expresses a world view by shape-shifting through a broad range of subject matter. Through a personal lens, ANOHNI addresses loss of loved ones, inequality, alienation, acceptance, cruelty, ecocide, devastation wrought by Abrahamic theologies, Future Feminism, and the possibility that we might yet transform our ways of thinking, our spiritual ideas, our societal structures, and our relationships with the rest of nature.
On “It Must Change,” ANOHNI soulfully describes systems in collapse with a note of compassion for humanity: “The truth is I always thought you were beautiful in your own way // That’s why this is so sad.” ANOHNI’s voice is sensual and smoothed, selectively reaching to the edges of what it can contain. “We’re not getting out of here // No one’s getting out of here // This is our world,” she murmurs. Elsewhere, “You know how they always said that light was the opposite of darkness? // It’s just fire in darkness, creating life // So those opposites, they don’t exist // It’s just an idea that someone told you.” The video, starring British social justice activist Munroe Bergdorf, is directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.
ANOHNI comments, “Munroe Bergdorf has done so much service for British society. She always impresses me with her articulate grace. Munroe’s dignity and ethical courage are a guiding light.”
ANOHNI explains, “Many of the recordings on this record — like ‘It Must Change’ and ‘Can’t’ — capture the first and only time I have sung those songs through. There’s a magic when you suddenly place words you have been thinking about for a long time into melody. A neural system awakens. It isn’t personal and yet is so personal. Things connect and come alive.”
A portrait of legendary human rights activist Marsha P. Johnson, taken by Alvin Baltrop in the 1970s, is featured on the cover of My Back Was a Bridge For You To Cross, reflecting a 25-year relationship with the memory of Johnson that ANOHNI has held space for in the presentation of her own work. ANOHNI’s approach since her last record has shifted, moving from someone tasked with challenging global denial to an artist seeking to support others on the front lines. “I want the record to be useful. I learned with HOPELESSNESS that I can provide a soundtrack that might fortify people in their work, in their activism, in their dreaming and decision-making. I can sing of an awareness that makes others feel less alone, people for whom the frank articulation of these frightening times is not a source of discomfort but a cause for identification and relief.” I want the work to be useful, to help others move with dignity and resilience through these conversations we are now facing.”