Anohni‘s relationship with the major players in the entertainment industry is strained, to say the least. The experimental musician opted out of attending the Oscars after becoming the first transgender performer ever to be nominated, calling the movie industry a “tap dance to occupy you while Rome burns.” And it seems the singer is no less critical of the machinations of her own industry. She slammed what she views as the exploitation of artists by corporations and her own past collaboration with Apple Music in a new interview with The Creative Independent.
Anohni, who is formerly of Antony And The Johnsons, starts by giving a quick explainer on the way that corporations underwrite artists in the hopes of being cool by association.
“As soon as you have enough followers, the corporations come knocking to rent out your brand, which they then turn around and use as a pheromone to sell their products. You use that money to make a music video and pay your recording costs,” she said. “But now your record has a logo for Nike or Apple on the back. Do we really want to front for these multinationals?”
She goes on to say that she’s not merely standing out this set-up pointing fingers. Her music video for the song “Drone Bomb Me” was funded by Apple Music, a set-up Anohni says gave the company an ad at “a fraction of what they would had to have paid for it if they had framed it as an advertisement.”
“It was an experiment and a challenge for me. The record companies can’t afford to advance the whole cost for making the record anymore, let alone pay for an ambitious video. So after a lot of hemming and hawing I agreed to work with Apple on the video. I wanted the video to have a wider reach, and only Apple could offer me the resources to do so…
My being bought as a politically outspoken artist is a more potent advertising tool for Apple than a 100 more explicit ads. It creates the false aura for Apple of being cutting edge, of being artist advocates, of being innovative mavericks, of being environmentally friendly, of caring about people and communities, instead of being the McDonalds of consumer high tech whose wealth was largely pilfered from what was once a biodiverse music industry.
How brilliant is that? All of us pitching in as if we were working for a charity, and Apple, one of the biggest companies in the world, walks with an ad.”
Anohni said that using her politically charged music to shill for the world’s richest corporation left her feeling “like a house cat that had been declawed.”
Check out the rest of the interview over at The Creative Independent to hear Anohni talk on American politics, her visual art career and climate change.