Interview: The HAIM phenomenon

IMG_6134 Photocredit: Ponydanceclyde

Three sisters from L.A. playing Rock ‘n’ Roll. At first sight, there is nothing unusual in that equation really. So what is it about the Haim sisters that everyone thinks it’s so fabulous that they are most popular girl band of right now? Including me? As I ride up the elevator to the rooftop terrace of the Amano Hotel in Berlin-Mitte to meet these ladies, this question is actually bothering me.

I discovered Haim about a year ago on vimeo, as I heard them singing their song Slow – unplugged accompanied by a couple of bongos and a tiny key board. And then cracked a very random but equally hilarious penis joke. So not only the perfectly balanced harmonies impressed me but as well this careless yet natural attitude which I think defines true (musical) greatness.

Ever since then, Haim hustled up the what we call ladder of success, playing Glastonbury,  SXSW, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza Festival. But these women have come a long way, every since their Israelian dad Mordechai introduced them to drumming at a very early age, playing live shows for years and years. In this interview, you’ll get to know a little bit more of Haim, including how they won an award for best Twitter, used to write emo-poetry, songs about hair and why it matters to take yourself not too seriously.

PDC: Este, last night at your Berlin show somebody threw undies at you. How did it feel?

Este: Well, I was not kidding on stage when I said I need to do laundry so badly. So it was nice to have an extra pair lying around. Nice and clean. The girl who threw it has been to a couple of our shows. She knew that I needed these. She is a friend now, that is the cool thing about travelling, you meet people on tour and begin friendships with them. She lives near Munich and travelled to Berlin for the show. She is actually from California.

PDC: How was last night’s show different to the one you played about one year ago here in the city?

Este: Last time we did not really explore. It is different this time, we had time for a walk in the morning and tried to get lost a little bit and explore things. We love eating so we went tasting the food and visiting cafés. Around Lido in Kreuzberg where our show was there were many good things.

PDC: I watched your new video for “The Wire”, and found it so awesome that you have Jorma Taccone from The Lonely Island in it, I am a big fan! Do you like these guys as much as me?

HAIM: We love them!

PDC: What’s your favourite song of The Lonely Island?

Alana: I love “I’m on a boat.” Also “Jizz in my pants” is amazing.
Danielle: I love “Shy Ronny”.
Este: I like “Boom Box”.

PDC: Would you like to work with them some more?

Alana: I want to open for them. You know they never played live, and when we were with Jorma we said: You guys need to play live! You would headline every single festival – what are you doing? They are just so busy. We literally love Jorma.

PDC: So it was your idea that he appears in your video?

Alana: Yeah! A lot of music videos now are very serious. I am such a music video fan; I hate seeing myself on camera though. I cannot take myself seriously; I am not a serious person. Anyone who meets me cannot stop smiling, I cannot be serious. I lot of people want us to do these serious artsy things, but for us there needs to be some light-hearted humour to our videos. A serious video cannot happen. The Wire is a light-hearted song. So we thought what would be hilarious and the first person that we thought of was Jorma. Breaking up with Jorma.

Este: Who would ever break up with Jorma…

Alana: I know…Everybody would say why don’t you guys just get married…He is the sweetest dude and we are really good friends with his brother also. He has an amazing band called Electric Guest. That’s how we met Jorma because we sing on his brother’s record.

PDC: Was the video inspired by real life, all of you sisters breaking up with her boyfriends at the same time?

Danielle: It was a mixture. Nothing is ever really just about one person.
Alana: We are not mean spirited we do not want anyone to feel bad. It is just what every girl goes through in their lives, it does not matter who you are.

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PDC: I saw Alana you are very active on Twitter. Do you like to communicate directly to your fans?

Alana: I do! I think Twitter is amazing to communicate directly to your fans! I use my Twitter to share puppy photos. That I think are cute. And nail art photos that I do myself. Just funny random things. You cannot take that too seriously. I am actually kind of stupid. I won an award for my puppy fotos. An NME award for “Best Twitter”. I beat Muse and M.I.A. apparently. I was super honoured. When I tweet I think it is hilarious and random. I am glad someone took notice.

PDC: Since you are so internet-involved, do you care about the whole NSA discussion and online surveillance in general?

Este: Being able to read everything? I think it is a little invasion of privacy, but we don’t pay much attention to that stuff.

PDC: Okay. I don’t know why but this somehow reminds me somewhat of the first video I saw of you guys, involving jokes about an Irish penis…

Este: Well guys don’t necessarily think it’s funny. Because they might think you have a penis. I think pick up lines never work but it is the way you present them. A boy that I started dating gave me the worst pick up line. But he did it in a way that was really funny. It was they way that he said it and his charm.

Danielle: Was it the Polar bear one?

Este: Yeah that one! “I have to break the ice and buy you a drink.” A nerd. But I am down. It’s my favourite line…

PDC: Hilarious! One question about music: You covered Sheryl Crow. Would you like to cover more artists who inspired you and if so who is next?

Alana: We love covering songs. That song is an amazing piece of artwork. Such a good pop song! We listened to it on tour, because we got into a Sheryl Crow phase right before we left. The song makes you wanna press replay. We were in a band with our parents where all we did was covers. For 15 years. So it is kind of in our blood. It is fun to play someone else’s songs. We have so many idols and Sheryl Crow is one of them. A strong woman who writes amazing songs.

PDC: Who inspires you at the moment?
Este: Kendrick Lamar.
Danielle: I really like that girl, Twigs. She is really good.
Este: Grimes is really awesome.
Alana: We were lucky enough to play three festivals with her ins Scandinavia. We randomly spoke on Twitter. She tweeted at us and we freaked out because we love her so much. She is the most amazing person and musician and we got to hang out with her. She is a fucking kick ass producer and really has a strong voice. I look up to her I think she is amazing,
PDC: I love her, she played at Berghain last year…
Este: That’s where we wanted to go! How was it?
PDC: Amazing, she had 10 naked background dancers and the energy was insane…
Este: She is so cool!

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PDC: How was Scandinavia, did you have a good time? Which festival did you like best, OYA; FLOW, or Way Out West?

HAIM: Definitely Way out West. It was a beautiful setting.
Alana: I loved Way Out West because it was a vegetarian festival. When you are on tour, all you want is to eat healthy. Usually you go to festivals and all they have is meat, burgers and French fries. On tour our body is just craving vegetables. On Way Out West we ate nice fresh salads and vegan lasagne. Everyone is really nice there; too, the crowd was fucking amazing! We are always just so surprised; we have never been to Scandinavia before so we literally expect just a couple of people to come to our show. But everyone was just so excited, so pumped and dancing. A great fucking festival and we really hope they will invite us next year!

PDC: So are all of you Vegetarian?

Alana: No I just like to eat healthy. When I am home I eat really healthy so it is hard for me on tour when the only thing that is open is McDonald’s. Then your stomach is fucked up for the entire night…Gross!

PDC: Can you recommend one American festival I should go to?

Este: Probably Lollapalooza, it’s amazing we just played there. And of course Coachella, which is next to our hometown.
Danielle: This is a whole “thing” though, it does not really involve camping. There is but we don’t care. There is the desert, it’s beautiful! It is a lot about the parties that go along with the festival. The line-up is usually really good.
Alana: We are from California, so when Coachella comes around in L.A. it is kind of like best friend vacation. All your friends go. Like adult spring break. Like L.A. moves to the desert.
Danielle: Lollapalooza is exactly the opposite, it is right in the middle of Chicago. It is really awesome to be in this urban setting. And they have the best line-up every year! Every artist wants to be a part of it because it is such a good festival. All the stages are beautiful and it is planned very well. You get an amazing experience when you are there. Also there is a brand new festival: Made in America. That’s the one you should go to!

PDC: Thank you, that sounds great! Because I have friends who’d like to convince me to go to SXSW

Este: Well that’s not really a festival. Every store would have a stage. It’s kind of shitty, they don’t really have stages. Everyone is out in the city and drunk. But we love Austin, they have a amazing barbecue. It is a cool city!

PDC: I also looked at old stuff from you guys recently and found out about the Valli Girls…And I wondered what happened to the other members?

Este: I have no idea! I went to UCLA with the drummer girl, so we would bump into each other all the time.

Danielle: That was one of those things; we did that for basically one year and then started to focus on Haim. But it was fun while it lasted! The girls were really fun! But we wanted to focus on our own music. We started writing songs together and “it felt right.” To quote a HAIM song.

PDC: So it did not take long until you decided you would like to do your own stuff…

Danielle: Yeah! We were in a bunch of different bands growing up. But it was not until we started writing songs together. It was really a kind of experiment. We would always write songs on our own, I wrote some really Emo-Poetry. And we eventually wrote one song together and we did it in like an hour. It was a song, not a very good one but it was a song. And we had so much fun doing it so we kept going. And all of our friends supported it! We have an awesome support system.

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PDC: Did you also drum from when you were young? Last nights show was pretty impressive…

Danielle: Thank you! Our dad is a drummer. He put us on the drums from a very young age taught us the basic drumming one on one. The foundation of any instrument is drums. Some think it is piano but I think it’s drums. That was our foundation for music.

PDC: So your drummer has a hard time with you?

Danielle: He is such a fun drummer to play with and I am sure it’s hard on him. Probably it’s intimidating because we are all frustrated drummers. If we could our band would just be a drum chore. We would have like a marching band. We love drumming.

PDC: So do you get a bit of home time after your tour?

Danielle: Yes about four days! Then we do Big in America and come back to Europe to do promo for our record – Days Are Gone, which comes out September 30.

PDC: I will definitely buy that one! Thanks so much girls for making the time to do this interview! IMG_6128

 

Julia steht auf schwitzige Rockkonzerte, Whiskey und blutige Steaks. Sie braucht jede Nacht mindestens achteinhalb Stunden Schlaf und mindestens zehn Minuten um einen ironischen Witz zu verstehen.

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