The Hideout has very wisely given one of our favorite Chicago people/musicians, Anna Holmquist, a residency for the month of May. Starting on the 7th, each Tuesday night will feature Holmquist in some way, but will also be a unique showcase of performers hand-selected by them. These are the kind of collaborations that prove how rich the music/performing arts scene is in Chicago. Read on to find out what led Holmquist to take on the residency and what they curated for us on each Tuesday. We hope to see you at all four shows!
Chicago Crowd Surfer: TLM
AH : Anna Holmquist
TLM: HOW DID YOU GET THE HIDEOUT RESIDENCY?
AH: It’s actually a funny story, cause there was a week a while back when I was playing two shows back to back. It was back in November, and I played an Ester show and then a Curls show. So I made a joke on Facebook that was something like, “Come to my unofficial Hideout residency; I’ll be there two days in a row.” And Sully, [Sullivan Davis, Program Director for The Hideout] saw that, cause we’re friends on Facebook, and he said, “Do you want to do an official one?” and I was like, “Yeees, I do want to do that!” So basically, I should just make jokes about what I want more often.
RIGHT! YOU NEED TO PUT IT OUT IN THE WORLD.
AH: Yeah, like manifesting it or whatever, telling the universe. I kinda believe in stuff like that.
WELL, YEAH, YOU CAN’T GET WHAT YOU WANT UNLESS YOU ASK FOR IT. DID YOU HAVE A DESIRE TO DO A RESIDENCY BEFORE YOU MADE A JOKE ABOUT IT?
AH: Yeah, I just never really thought I would get to. I thought it was cool when Haley Fohr from Circuit des Yeux did one in December. I didn’t know if anyone would care if I did a residency. But A: I love The Hideout, it is one of my favorite venues in the world, and of course in Chicago. And B: I love curating things, and I have a lot of different interests and ideas. I love not only music- I also love booking shows. Like I used to do the booking at my college’s music venue that was on campus. And I really just love setting up shows and putting together different events like that. And so, it's pretty exciting to get four days to do whatever I wanted with!
WHY DID YOU NAME THE SERIES, “THE CITY IS MY HEART”?
AH: I named it that because I wanted my residency to be sort of a showcase of the excellent talent that Chicago has to offer and because in a kind of dorky way, it's a little love letter to Chicago. It’s been such a wonderful place for me to live, and a wonderful place for me to do music. It has such a wonderfully supportive music community, for the most part, that I’ve found. Which I really appreciate. Other cities definitely have that, but I feel it in Chicago in a really big way. People are just very mutually supportive and its really lovely.
So it’s kind of about that, and also the last night I’m doing a storytelling night. So I am going to be doing the story of how I came to Chicago, which is that I joined a cult in college and I came here for the cult. And so part of me still being here is that I made a choice to make the city my own and keep living here. Cause I thought maybe I should just move away because there were a bunch of people here I just didn’t want to see. So I made that choice years ago to stay and make it my own, and I feel like I’ve been able to do that. Now I feel like it's my city. So part of naming the residency that and doing it is to say thank you to the city for letting me be a part of it.
IT'S SO GREAT THAT YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT EACH WEEK. LET’S GIVE THE RUNDOWN:
THE FIRST ONE, MAY 7TH, SOUNDS INTERESTING, “MEMORY LAME: A BAD SONGWRITERS NIGHT” [FEATURING MEMBERS OF ESTER, TOBACCO CITY, MELKBELLY, IZZY TRUE, GIRL K, BIG SYN, HALF GRINGA, BLOODHYPE, RICHARD ALBUM, AND MORE.] HOW DID YOU CONVINCE THESE PEOPLE TO DO THIS?
AH: [laughing] Well, some people are actually really excited about the idea. It’s been interesting to see some people who are like, I can’t do that, can’t revisit my old songs, it’d be too painful, some people don’t even know how to play them, but some people have been really gung-ho about the idea. Cause I had the thought, really when Chris Colson, “Coleslaw,” my roommate, told me he used to be in a rap group, where he was a rapper called “The Mammal.” And I was like, “Well, I need to hear you rap- this is wild.” So then I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we had a night of a bunch of Chicago songwriters playing their worst songs? Cause I have a bunch of songs that I am not doing anything with, so I might as well embarrass myself. I think it will be really funny, and also a neat way to show your growth. A lot of these songwriters are people that the audience will know. Some friends that have seen them playing music for years. I think it's really interesting to see or hear people’s older art. You can maybe see the seeds of the things that people are making now. And it will be very funny.
SO HAVE YOU HEARD ANY OF THEM? HAS ANYONE GIVEN YOU A PREVIEW?
AH: Noooo, I haven’t heard any of them. I’m very excited to have the whole experience.
ON MAY 14TH, YOU HAVE ESTER, FAUX CO., AND COLD COUNTRY. WHY THOSE PARTICULAR BANDS?
AH: Yeah! Those are all bands I’ve been in. So Cold Country is a band that we are reforming for the show. Faux Co is a band that I used to be in, when it was called The Red Threads, so we are putting together a set of their songs that we used to do together. And then of course Ester is my project now. And I think there will be a couple other little surprises that night...like maybe some other groups...a night of my past, present, and maybe future projects. And also just a way to make myself crazy by singing in every single band that night.
THAT DOES SOUND CRAZY.
AH: Yeah, that’s just how I operate.
ALWAYS PUSH YOURSELF TO DO MORE?
AH: Uh-huh, exactly.
MAY 21ST YOU ARE DOING A PROJECT FIERCE FUNDRAISER. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THEM?
AH: I’ve known about them for awhile. The Neo-Futurists have done fundraisers for them. And they’re an organization that I really believe in. So they are an organization that is looking to create affirming transitional housing LGBTQIA+ youth in Chicago. So they have a building and they are looking to turn that into transitional housing. And they are very grassroots organization, so I knew I wanted to do a fundraiser for them. And also when I booked the residency, it might sound silly, but I didn’t want it to be all about me. I wanted a way to give back to Chicago, and I think that this is is a good way to do it because I really believe in this organization. I think that’s the kind of space that we need more of, places where people can be safe, especially people in marginalized groups.
WHAT ARE THE PERFORMANCES GOING TO BE LIKE THAT NIGHT?
AH: Alexa Grae is this amazing musician and performer, who I’m really excited to see. They are going to do music and dance, and I don’t even know what all yet, but it will be excellent. And Natalie Grace Afford is a force of nature and an awesome musician, so I am excited. And we will have one more person that night that is TBD.
SO THAT BRINGS US TO THE STORYTELLING NIGHT THAT YOU MENTIONED EARLIER. ON MAY 28TH. IT’S A “BEGINNING|MIDDLE|END” PERFORMANCE, WHAT IS THAT PERFORMANCE GROUP LIKE?
AH: It’s a storytelling night that happens about every six months, I know they’ve done it at the Hideout a couple times, I know I’ve seen it there before. Its run by these people Steven Jackson and Megan Henricks. Steven is actually someone I went to college with. So I was really interested in collaborating with them on the storytelling night because I’m a musician, but I do poetry and stuff too, ya know, other performance things. So storytelling isn't too far out of my wheelhouse. And it something that I really appreciate as a medium, so I really wanted to collaborate on this. Yeah, so I met Steven the first week I was in college, and at college is where I joined the cult. The cult is what brought me to Chicago, and that is what I’m telling the story about. So this feels like a full circle, neat way to do this.
So the way it is structured is that there is a Beginning, and Middle, and End. The first few stories are all beginning kind of stories. The Middle has middle type of stories. And the End has ending type of stories. So we are having a broad theme of Chicago, obviously, cause its the City of my Heart. And also my story will be part of the Beginning, Middle, and End portions, so it will be the longer, overarching story.
I LOVE THE WAY YOU TALK ABOUT ALL THESE ARTISTS YOU ARE COLLABORATING WITH FOR THIS SERIES. IT MAKES ME EXCITED TO COME OUT AND SUPPORT YOU AND THEM. I ALSO THINK IT’S AN IMPORTANT TIME TO SUPPORT THE HIDEOUT. I HOPE THIS GIVES PEOPLE A REASON TO BE THERE, TOO.
AH: I’m really excited for it and think it’s going to be a lot of fun. The Hideout is part of it too, ya know. They are so special, and I know they’re not trying to go away anytime soon, but the thought of them being threatened by anything is just horrifying to me because of what a wonderful place that it is. It’s just become such a music home for me, ya know. So I am hopeful that we can bring some people out and have an enjoyable time. And maybe some people who have never been to The Hideout before will come and discover the place for themselves. It’s such a great place and I want to make sure that it stays in Chicago forever!