Toni Halliday, the passionately icy queen of alternative rock/electronic entity Curve, could melt even the coldest hearts with her restlessly seductive and velvety menacing vocal delivery.
Halliday (who also wrote the lyrics), along with Curve’s sonic mastermind Dean Garcia, ruled the early to mid-1990s UK shoegaze scene, churning out thickly miasmic to dynamically propulsive electronics, beats, and distorted guitar-driven numbers.
The mesmerizing, usually studio-bound duo crafted itself into an electrifying live band with talents that included renowned guitarist Debbie Smith (Echobelly, Snowpony, SPC ECO, Blindness), guitarist Alex Mitchell, and drummer Steve Monti.
Over the stretch of several years, with a hiatus between 1994 and 1996, Curve released numerous singles and EPs (the three earliest were compiled into the introductory EP Pubic Fruit) and six studio albums. Halliday and Garcia eventually called it quits in 2005 due to unmanageable record company entanglements and other baggage.
Garcia has continued to create music as the down-tempo, electronic-based ambient pop duo SPC ECO, mainly with his daughter Rose Berlin on wistfully ethereal vocals.
But whatever happened to Toni Halliday of Curve?
During Curve’s shoegaze-era reign, Halliday collaborated on several tracks with other artists and even formed another band named Scylla. After the demise of Curve, Halliday has been on an erratic, and at times surprising, musical trajectory. In 2006 she provided backing vocals to The Killers’ Christmas-themed jingle, Great Big Sled.
Halliday then went on to form the music project Chatelaine in 2008, releasing one album, Take a Line For a Walk, in 2010. While Chatelaine is considered Halliday’s solo endeavor, she does share songwriting credits with Louise Dowd for some of the compositions on the album. On Take a Line For a Walk, Halliday lyrically bares her turbulent heart and is supported by light electronics, orchestral strings, and piano. It’s a sparer take than Curve’s material, but Halliday’s captivating vocals and spirit remain intact.
After a period of silence, Halliday resurfaced in 2012 in an oblique way, at first with her still-mysterious work on Orbital’s techno soundtrack for the re-make of the film Pusher. Halliday is credited on all 23 tracks, but vocally she shows up on Heroin Bath and possibly Pusher Theme and a brief part of Go With The Flo, providing gently murmured vocals that are difficult to attribute to her.
Halliday then contributed vocals to Huw Williams’ tune Lost In The Noise in 2013. After that, a run of her songs, under license to Universal Publishing Production Music, suddenly started appearing at that company’s official site for use in commercials and other entertainment venues, including Now The Time Is Here.
TV show The Vampire Diaries placed Down In A Dark Place in one of its trailers and Nowhere To Hide was used by ESPN in South America to promote both the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 and the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016. Halliday appeared in brief video clips, commenting upon the shoegazer phenomenon, on the Beautiful Noise documentary released in 2014.
On November 26, 2016, UPPM Records released a compilation album titled The Song Method 2 which featured Halliday as co-songwriter on three songs, one of which she sings on (Suffragette). The more recent release of Halliday’s music under Universal, however, could just be a burn off of that company’s holdings and may not accurately reflect Halliday’s current artistic direction.
It turns out that Halliday and Garcia were embroiled in frustrating legal battles with Universal in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s, where that company did not want to release Curve’s album Gift. The duo went on to record and self-release Open Day at the Hate Fest in 2001, which did well in online sales. Universal took notice and finally unveiled Gift via its Hip-O record label that same year.
The fact that Universal owns certain songs by Halliday and has been releasing them at this juncture seems more like a business arrangement than Halliday freely bestowing more of her compositions upon the world…
Through 2016 and this year, Halliday had been in talks with Garcia to reform Curve, but unfortunately, this exciting news come to naught. It is with highly bated breath that fans of Toni Halliday await her next musical venture.
Written by: Jen Dan