Chicago artist Anna Holmquist (they/them) has been sharing their songwriting as Ester for the past decade, first as a solo outlet until later growing as a full-band project. After playing in bands in Chicago like the eclectic indie-rock band The Curls, including performing at Pitchfork Music Festival, they decided to double-down on their contemplative songwriting as Ester.
Ester released their first album as the full band in 2020 with Turn Around (Midwest Action), which looks back at the past to understand one’s growth while meditating on major life changes. As luck would have it, it came out at a time of immense change in late March 2020. The ensuing year gave Holmquist, like a lot of music artists, a lot of time to reflect and write.
Turn Around beckoned comparisons to artists like Big Thief as well as Lucius in independent blogs like The Wild Honey Pie. The Chicago Reader even called Holmquist "a kick-ass songwriter," and then earlier this year they also wrote that Ester is “easily among the city’s best songwriters.”
After sharing the A/B side singles “Red Rover” backed with “Change Is Allowed” in the beginning of 2023, they will be sharing their next larger release, the EP Laundry, with AudioSport Records in November 2023. The eight-song EP heavily features their longtime collaborator, Katelyn Cohen, on cello throughout the record except for the last track, and the record also reinterprets three songs from Turn Around in a sparser duo setting as this duo.
Ester’s music can be best heard in a house full of mirrors. While Holmquist says Ester is available to play weddings and funerals, their music is really suitable for any big moments of change.