The Curls
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The Curls

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Chicago, Illinois, United States
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Pop Art Rock




"Single Review/Feature"


Quirky and skillful sextet the Curls may only be a few years old, but they’re quickly illustrating why Chicago is a major breeding ground for creative, idiosyncratic, and fearless music. Originally conceived as a “minimalist psych/folk project for singer/songwriter Mick [last name unknown]”, the band now sees itself as a “constantly evolving art rock entertainment content conglomerate” that endearingly blends bits of jazz, “new wave, psych, pop and prog rock” into refreshingly peculiar and sophisticated gems. Their latest track, “Prickly Feelings” (from upcoming LP SUPER UNIT), does an excellent job of showcasing their playful aesthetic.

The song begins with bouncy sax notes guiding carefree rhythms and otherworldly guitar dissonance, ultimately paving the way for Mick to harmonize with himself during the lively verses (“Prickly feelings are bringing me down / All I wanna do is swim around”). In-between each line, backing vocalist Anna adds charming chants, and together, these elements easily evoke the fun, imaginative, and technical prowess of artists like Knifeworld, Frank Zappa, Cheer-Accident, the Sugarplastic, and Bent Knee. In-between these moments, clever classic rock breaks give way to faint, muffled narration and avant-garde jazz arrangements.

It’s quite a welcoming yet intricate composition that packs a ton of adventurousness into its three-minute length. If "Prickly Feelings" is any indication of what SUPER UNIT as a whole has to offer, fans will definitely want to pick it up when it drops this fall. Check it out for yourself and see if you get those snappy sensations, too. - Popmatters

"Week in Pop (Feature/Interview)"

Chicago’s art pop innovators The Curls have embarked upon a post-post-modern world of musical dadaism worthy of universal attention. Embracing the canon of all your heroes, they embrace the nonsensical (or maybe new-sensical if you will) worlds of choogle collaborations that make music that makes for striking sylistic ear-catching textures & tones. Comprised of Anna Holmquist, Mick Fansler, Jenny Marshall, Jay Poyhonen, Rami Atassi & Carl Swoveland; The Curls scheme a blend of brass & bravado that rocks, rattles & rolls with innovation & a true sense of genuine excitement.

Presenting the premiere of the track “i can’t tell u”, The Curls mix riffs, synths, rhythm, horns & Anna’s prosodic & bright vocals to convey new creative dialogues that you can ponder & consider while skipping about on the dance floor. The chorus where the horns, vocals, percussion & everything all align together in unison recalls the Kleenex/LILiPUT canon & all the lesser sung rebels that raged against the male lead punk patriarchy (we’re thinking of you, Poly Styrene & X-Ray Spex). The Curls are curating some of the wildest & most sporadic sounds that are set to decorate the exhibition halls of tomorrow’s modern art museums & centers for the arts.

We talked with Anna Holmquist & Mick Fansler of The Curls via the following interview:

Describe what lead you all to begin The Curls.

Mick: A dangerous lust for creating content. You see, my best associates were all pursuing Phds in caring for slightly underprivileged yuppy children, I proposed becoming a band instead. The rest is history as they say, c’est la vie.

Anna: I joined by some coincidental magic wherein I was at a Curls show, thinking about how fun it would be to sing with the Curls, and after the set, Mick came up to me and asked if I would ever want to sing with the Curls. So I had to say yes, of course. It’s just evolved from there.

Tell us about how the group has expanded toward these experimental & exciting new audio arenas.

Mick: Increased collaboration and a thirst for constant growth, my dear boy.

Anna: Sometimes you jam and it goes to a weird place, man. For real though, I think our influences have become more experimental as our abilities have grown.

Describe for us the feelings, thoughts, inspirations & more that informed the singles “I Can’t Tell U” & “Prickly Feelings”.

Mick: I composed the music for I can’t tell u and the music/verse lyrics for prickly feelings with my songwriting partner and MY WIFE, Janny Marshall. My thought on I can’t tell u was “how many sick af ideas can we fluidly condense into this bad boy” Jan organized it beautifully And Anna did a superb job complimenting those ideas lyrically.

“Prickly Feelings”, Jan came up with these very hypnotic and powerful sax lines and we went from there. I mean 2k16, 2k17, these are truly prickly times, sometimes you have to take break from it all to take a dip in a public pool.

Anna: “I Can’t Tell U”—when I wrote the lyrics, I was thinking about Trump, his devotees, because it truly tends toward a cult-like mindset of blind devotion, liars in general, abusers, people who bend the truth, the culture of alternative facts and choosing whichever truth you prefer. I’m generally a pretty fact-based person, so the idea of people believing outrageous falsehoods despite data proving them wrong really grinds my gears.

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“Prickly Feelings”: My pieces of the song are about that prickly feeling you get when you realize things about you are changing that you can’t control, or things around you are changing that you can’t control. The stomach is a metaphor.

What else can you tell us about forthcoming works in progress?

Mick: The content is always flowing around here. We might be writing a new record now, personal working title edaMEME, maybe. My advice to all our net heads is to keep those eyes on the screen at all costs.

Anna: Nothing, they’re top-secret government contracts.

Notes about the synergy dynamics as a group & how you all collectively come together to create such exciting & unexpected pop sounds?

Mick: So glad you asked about synergy. My father Gary, a true man of business, may be able to answer this better. Can reach him at

Anna: We’re extremely synergistic. Let me work back with the team to get an answer on this one—can probably send you a POV by EOW.

Other local artists & activists that you all would like to acknowledge?

Mick: Our friends joining us for our record release November 30 at Emporium Arcade Bar in Chicago are my current local obsessions: Crown Larks, Malci and Woongi. All have recently put out mind bending recs, all very different experimental styles. Shout out to our upstairs neighbors and my favorite band Tragic Trip, whose lead singer Willy Hulseman produced this upcoming record. Shout out to Michael Mac, who produced part of this rec and a gaggle of other great Chicago recs. Mykele Deville is a remarkable rapper/poet/activist to follow. Shout out to Richard Album putting on the best multimedia show experiences in town. The Chicago Community Bond Fund is a fantastic local org fighting to end outrageous bail fees in Cook County jails. Chicago is truly full of it.

Anna: The excellent Monday night experience Salonathon, which ends its over six year run at Beauty Bar in February, at least, ends this iteration—more to come from them, always. If you haven’t been, you have to go.

Other local Chicago happenings we should know about?

Illinois Democratic State Rep Will Guzzardi is a great dude and we’re doing a fund raiser show for his reelection November 10 at the Hungry Brain in Chicago with Tragic Trip and Fran.

2018 projections, prayers, hopes, etc?

I project Donald trump will clean up his act and pass Universal Healthcare for all before passing away from a Diet Coke overdose. Also, the Golden Girls will be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame. I PRAY Jared Leto will retire from film and music. I HOPE people vote, and check out our Instagram @thecurls_coolband.

Anna: I am devoid of hope.

Listen to more from The Curls via Soundcloud. - Impose Magazine

"Feature/Single Premiere"

Chicago art rock outfit The Curls are typically quirky and colorful on their latest psych pop single – a ballsy mixture of sounds that seemingly shouldn’t work together, but do.
— —

The first words of art rock sextet The Curls’ new single “i can’t tell u” are an enticing contradiction – “Everything comes to an end, everything circles around again,” sings the Chicago band’s frontwoman, Anna Holmquist. Her voice is airy and high as she vocalizes the contrasting statements, but it hooks a listener’s ears and forces them to consider the concepts of ending and beginning to be more similar than typically perceived. Yes, things end – but sometimes that conclusion is merely a part of a pattern. And having that realization is characteristically weird, just like The Curls themselves, whose most recent snippet of upcoming, independently released LP SUPER UNIT sounds like an ambitiously scattered, psych pop-inspired Arcade Fire.

everything comes to an end
everything circles around again
but what is in your heart,
do you believe what’s true
and how can I begin to convince you?

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “i can’t tell u,” The Curls’ brand new release. The band, consisting of Holmquist, Mick Fansler (guitar), Jenny Marshall (synth/trumpet), Jay Poyhonen (bass), Rami Atassi (guitar) and Carl Swoveland (drums), says that “I can’t tell u” is an exploration of narcissism – not one’s own, but that of a friend or partner whose inflated ego is detrimental to their personal connections with others. “(The song) explores what it’s like to be close with selfish people, and how their narcissism often dominates the relationship entirely, leaving the other party feeling ignored and deprived,” says The Curls.

Shut your windows lock your doors
What are you complaining for?
In the end it’s all the same
In your narcissistic brain

Beyond its purpose as an examination of someone else’s self-absorption, “I can’t tell u” is laced with reasonable, yet comedic frustration. Lines like “Oh Please just shut up for once, why do you never ask me anything?” and “What are you complaining for?/ In the end it’s all the same in your narcissistic brain” are shouted over the lushness of charismatic trumpets and bass guitars that technically shouldn’t work together, but somehow do, and vibrantly so. The best part of the song is Holmquist declaring a sort of lockdown just seconds before Marshall’s trumpets sound off, like an emergency horn in the distance. Indeed, this is how The Curls operate as self-proclaimed “lords of entertainment” – turning mismatched pieces into loveable, quirky amalgamations. This particular creation sounds like a step-up in strangeness from the outfit’s previous single, “Prickly Feelings,” because of its buzzing spunk, and if fans of The Curls are lucky, then they’ll be gifted with plenty more colorful attitude on the band’s forthcoming full-length. - Atwood Magazine




Beloved art rockers and self-proclaimed Lords of Entertainment, The Curls were formed in Chicago in 2014. The group has been as large as 11 people at times but primarily consists of quintet Mick Fansler (vocals, guitar), Jenny Marshall (synth, trumpet, sax), Anna Holmquist (vocals), Carl Swoveland (drums) and Will Hulseman (bass).

The “art pop innovators” have rapidly evolved since their formation, becoming known for their neverending stream of internet content, relentless DIY work ethic and large ensemble live productions. The band self-released it’s most expansive and polished record to date, SUPER UNIT, in December of 2017 and are scheduled to release another in the Spring of 2018. 

The group’s sound is difficult to pin down within one genre but has been compared to Talking Heads, St. Vincent, Arcade Fire , Orange Juice and Stereolab

“The Curls have created a post-post-modern world of musical dadaism...they are curating some of the wildest & most sporadic sounds that are set to decorate the exhibition halls of tomorrow’s modern art museums & centers for the arts." - Impose Magazine 

"Formed just a few years ago in 2014, quirky and skillful sextet The Curls are quickly illustrating why Chicago is a major breeding ground for creative, idiosyncratic, and fearless music." - Popmatters

"I LIKE IT!" - Adrian Belew (King Crimson, Talking Heads, David Bowie)

Band Members