Folk-meets-R&B, all-female sister group HAIM (pronounced “hime”) headlined the Music Hall Of Williamsburg this past Saturday night. The trio from San Fernando Valley, CA, played some songs off of its Forever EP, showing that not only do these women know how to thrash a guitar but that they can also blend their voices with perfect pitch and harmony. And though the Haim girls, Danielle, Este and Alana, grew up in a band with their parents—and they all have long ’70s-style hair—this ain’t no Partridge family.
I sat down with Este Haim the night before the show for a quick talk about growing up with R&B, being in an all-female band and signing to Columbia.
Your band’s music seems equally influenced by both R&B and rock. What did you three listen to growing up?
When we grew up, we listened to a crazy mix of music. We grew up in L.A., where L.A. radio is kind of the best thing ever. When you are in L.A., you constantly drive around everywhere, so we listened a lot to the radio. On the way to school, our parents would put on Motown, Santana, and at times me and my sisters listened to what we wanted, which was the pop station, KIIS FM. We would listen to TLC, Aaliyah, SWV and a lot of good female ’90s R&B. The musical landscape we listened to was kind of crazy. We also listened to a lot of ’70s classic rock and psychedelic rock.
Would you consider yourself following in the footsteps of any other all-female bands: L7, Luscious Jackson or the Donnas at all?
I don’t think we are following in their footsteps or even paving the way. I think we are just having fun. I think it’s kind of an interesting time in music right now where anything goes. I don’t think we are trying to reinvent the wheel. I think we are just trying to make good music. I don’t think there are genres anymore. It’s just a crazy amalgamation of everything.
I think girls shy away from what we are doing. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m glad I’m a bass player. Girls think it’s a dude thing. What’s the normal instrument girls play, anyway? I love the fact that my sisters can play guitar and drums.
HAIM just got signed with Columbia. How did that happen?
We inked our deal with Polydor in the U.K. We wanted to pick and choose exactly who we wanted to work with in the States. We really vibed with everyone from Columbia—it was an intense connection. We are very lucky. Our full-length will be out in the spring of next year on Columbia.
Do you find it hard to promote yourselves nowadays?
I think it’s different. The best way is to play live. I want to tour till I have no arms left. That’s all you can really ask for. It’s difficult right now. You can’t go and buy our record in a record store right now—but that’s just the nature of the beast.
You toured with Florence And The Machine and Mumford And Sons. What were those experiences like?
Well, with Mumford we had the best time. It was only four shows, and we don’t have any brothers, obviously, so they kind of were like our new-found brothers. We all kind of became this crazy dysfunctional family together. The thing that I took from Mumford And Sons is that they work really hard and play hard too. They are true showmen.
Florence And The Machine was also an insane show-woman—the way she commands an audience is insane. It’s like she has them talking to her. Her voice is amazing. It was an intense tour, and we did the last seven dates of her tour, so it was bittersweet. She would come into our room before our show, and we would talk and became really close. There’s something about ladies when they play together.