Rocking to their own beat: Haim in charge of their career
NEW YORK (AP) — The rock trio Haim remembers filming their first music video for just $200 before they were signed to a record label.
The clip for the song “Forever,” released in 2013, features Alana, Danielle and Este Haim riding bikes, playing the guitar in their parents’ living room and dancing in a hair salon (while imitating moves by Destiny’s Child), infused with videos from their early childhood.
It is carefree, but meticulous, with the Haim sisters at the creative forefront.
Fast forward four years with the release of their sophomore album, and the trio is still in charge, and executing their own vision. They write their music while also playing the drums, electric guitar, bass guitar and percussion; they buy and style their clothes; and they design their own music video treatments and album packaging.
“We’ve just never known it any other way. We don’t do anything unless we are 100 percent invested. Everything you see just comes straight from us, every idea,” Danielle, 28, said in a recent interview.
“I think the reason why it has been that way from the jump is (because) no one really can come for us because we are so opinionated,” said Alana, the youngest sister at 25. “I think I know what I don’t want to do more than what I do want to do.”
Danielle said she was signed a teenager to a group along with Este, 31, but is happy they parted ways.
“We didn’t write our own songs … we were so young, like babies, like 13, so after that we quit the band and for the next eight years we just grinded it out in Los Angeles playing every venue for zero people,” she recalled. “We worked from the bottom … (and) we’re not going to compromise because that just would be horrible.”
Since the release of their 2013 debut, the critical darling “Days Are Gone,” Haim has spent most of their time on tour — headlining their own shows and also opening up for close friend Taylor Swift. They also earned a Grammy nomination in 2015 for best new artist.
They said they’ve always known what kind of artists they want to be.
“We’re kind of a wolf pack. I don’t know if you can tell,” Este said, laughing.
Danielle credits The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, who she toured with, for helping the band take charge of their careers: “He was so detail oriented, and I think we just learned from that.”
And though they’re signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management, they say the rap icon lets them do their own thing.
“It’s just great to be a part of company that’s so supportive of whatever you need. (They’re like), ‘Let me know. Let us know. We support you.’ To be a part of that, especially with someone like (Jay-Z), it’s just so amazing,” Danielle said.
The girls co-wrote each song on “Something to Tell You,” which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 albums chart this month. Grammy-winning producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who worked on Haim’s debut and also produced for Vampire Weekend, Usher and Charli XCX, returns on the album, along with helpers like former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij, Dev Hynes (Solange, FKA twigs), Twin Shadow and Matt Sweeney.
Danielle said returning from the road and heading straight to the studio made them feel like “road warriors.”
“And we felt kind of on fire as a band,” Este added.
“We felt really locked in as band,” Danielle chimed in.
The studio felt like a playground, Alana said, as the girls wrote and recorded songs that captured “a lot of ups, a lot of downs, kind of like a crazy roller-coaster going through the last four years of our lives.”
The trio will perform a number of shows this summer, including festivals like Music Midtown in Atlanta and Life Is Beautiful in Las Vegas, both in September.
They said they’ve been inspired by female musicians from Kate Bush to Stevie Nicks and Donna Summer, and they hope to the do same for other women.
“We want to inspire girls to pick up instruments and play,” Alana said. “We want to see more girls … play rock or whatever type music they want. Not only just pick up instruments, be inspired to be a producer, be an engineer, be a mixer, be a mastering (engineer).
“Girls can do anything that they want to do.”