Music
6:01 am
Sun October 6, 2013

The Women Of HAIM On Starting Young

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 11:14 am

Days Are Gone, the debut of the California sibling act HAIM, has been pegged for months as one of the year's most anticipated releases and was finally released this week. But before Este, Alana and Danielle Haim formed their current musical trio, they were in another group — with their parents. Under the name Rockinhaim, the sisters performed covers of classic rock songs alongside their parents. Danielle Haim says their musical indoctrination began early on.

"When I was around 3 years old, my dad put me on the drums. He kind of put all of us on the drums and taught us very [rudimentary] rhythms. We all took to it really well. Once we got a little older, my mom brought out her acoustic guitar and would teach us kind of simplified Joni Mitchell songs and Beatles songs," Danielle Haim says. "We grew up in L.A., and all you kind of do in L.A. is just spend your whole day in the car, driving from place to place. My parents would always put on the radio full blast and we'd listen to different stations and different types of music. They were just big music lovers, so I think that kind of seeped into our brains."

Click the audio link to hear NPR's Rachel Martin talk with the Haim sisters about the hype, their unique childhood band and, of course, the music.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ESTE HAIM: Hi, I'm Este.

DANIELLE HAIM: Hi, I'm Danielle.

ALANA HAIM: And I'm Alana.

DANIELLE HAIM: And we are...

HAIM: ...Haim.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Haim, three sisters from California, have been singing together their whole lives. They started out performing with their parents at local clubs and country fairs under the name Rockinhaim. Then, when they were old enough to go out on their own, they did. And it's been a crazy ride ever since. The three sisters have been touring for close to seven years, playing some of the biggest music festivals around the world. All that touring has made them so close, they finish each other sentences.

ESTE HAIM: Somestimes, we ...

ESTE, DANIELLE AND ALANA HAIM (In unison)...actually finish each other's sandwiches.

(SOUNDBITE OF HAIM SONG)

MARTIN: Last week, Haim released their very first album. It's called "Days Are Gone." I recently talked with the three sisters, and Danielle told me they started making music young - really young.

DANIELLE HAIM: When I was around 3 years old, my dad put me on the drums. And he kind of put all of us on the drums and taught us very kind of rudimental rhythms and stuff. And we all really took to it really well. And then once we got a little older, my mom brought out her acoustic guitar and would teach us kind of simplified Joni Mitchell songs and Beatles songs. And we grew up in LA, and all you kind of do in LA is just spend your whole day in the car, you know, driving from place to place. And my parents would always put on the radio full blast,and we'd listen to different stations and different types of music. And they were just big music lovers, so I think that kind of seeped into our brains.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

HAIM: (Singing) Let me out, let me in, I give you everything I could give. You try to take, you try to make, you took all everything you gave me. You go off so easily, go on...

MARTIN: There's some great drumming on this album - on that song, in particular. It's got kind of a tribal feel to it. Who's playing on that track?

ALANA HAIM: Danielle.

ESTE HAIM: Yeah, Danielle plays all the drums...

DANIELLE HAIM: I played all the drums on the record.

ALANA HAIM: That's just what we grew up doing in our living room - was having like, these drum battles with our dad. He would bring us into the living room. And we'd have like, three sets of drums kind of set up, and timbales and congas and bongos - and just kind of an array of percussion. We'd call it the cushion box.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRUMMING)

DANIELLE HAIM: You know, my dad would start a beat, and we would each try and follow along; and then we would kind of riff off each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRUMMING)

MARTIN: Este, I understand that you went to UCLA and studied Bulgarian music.

ESTE HAIM: I did. I did Bulgarian music, and I also did Brazilian percussion. Those were the two emphases that I had. I learned all about ethnomusicology, but my two emphases were Bulgarian folk singing and Brazilian carnival drumming and conga play.

MARTIN: So for some reason, the Brazilian music, that's kind of in the ether a lot. But Bulgarian music? What was in there that captured your imagination?

ESTE HAIM: Have you heard any Bulgarian music?

MARTIN: I guess I haven't.

ESTE HAIM: OK. Well, you need - there's a record you need to get, called "The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices." And be prepared to get some chills. So bring a blanket, and maybe a glass of fine red wine - maybe a merlot...

MARTIN: OK.

ESTE HAIM: ...and just listen to it. The women in this choral group - these women don't really know how to necessarily like, read music, but they learn everything by ear. And it's kind of incredible the way that it happens.

MARTIN: Can you give me like, one bar of a traditional Bulgarian song?

ESTE HAIM: Yeah, I can give you a bar. Wait, I have to put my (unintelligible) off. It's not going to sound as good because there aren't the harmonies to go on top of it, but it's kind of the timber of the voice, OK?

MARTIN: OK, yeah.

ESTE HAIM: Ready? (Singing in foreign language)

MARTIN: Nice. That was awesome.

(LAUGHTER)

ESTE HAIM: Thank you.

ALANA HAIM: It's really awesome.

ESTE HAIM: I mean, we have family in Bulgaria, in Sophia, so it's kind of like when I first heard it my first year at UCLA, it was a weird thing for me because I had this connection to it that I didn't really know existed. I mean, I knew that I had family there, but I really started loving it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAYS ARE GONE")

MARTIN: Let's listen to another song. This is "Days Are Gone."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAYS ARE GONE")

MARTIN: Why this song as the title track?

ALANA HAIM: It sums up a lot of things for us. It sums up the early days of our band. That kind of period is kind of gone. And also, it summed up all the days in the studio that, you know, maybe we missed a couple deadlines. We've been a band since 2007, just kind of playing in LA at any little club we could play at. So, we've been at it for a couple of years. And now, we're excited that we can release an album that people are ready to hear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAYS ARE GONE")

MARTIN: So when you say passing of the days in your band, you mean the band that you were in with your parents?

ESTE HAIM: No, I think.

DANIELLE HAIM: That band actually is still going strong. Yeah.

ALANA HAIM: Rockinhaim is alive and well.

ESTE HAIM: Rockinhaim is kicking, kicking it.

ALANA HAIM: They come on tour with us and usually when they're on tour, you can kind of expect for them to come onstage for the encore and play a song. Usually, it's like one of our songs from Rockinhaim.

MARTIN: When did it strike you that maybe playing in a band with your parents wasn't maybe so cool anymore?

DANIELLE HAIM: I still think it's super cool.

ESTE HAIM: There was like, a time where I like, maybe I was like, 14 and like, angsty teen - like, Mom, stop playing music with us, gawd - like every teenager does. But like, honestly, like, I look back on it, and it's the coolest thing ever. Like, it's not like we played songs that weren't dope; like, we played really, really cool songs and songs that I still listen to, to this day.

ALANA HAIM: There were some missteps...

ESTE HAIM: There were ...

ALANA HAIM: ...not gonna lie.

ESTE HAIM: There was - my dad definitely did want to play a Rob Thomas-Santana song.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ALANA HAIM: (Singing) Give me your heart, make it real...

HAIM: (Singing) ...or let's forget about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ROB THOMAS: (Singing) Give me your heart, make it real, or let's forget about it...

DANIELLE HAIM: He really wanted us to play that song and that was like, one time where we were, like, Dad, no, I'm sorry. I can't play Rob Thomas and Santana. Like, it's just - it's not going to happen.

MARTIN: Was there - I mean, would your parents have been really disappointed if none of you turned out to be musical? I mean, luckily, it worked out.

ALANA HAIM: No.

DANIELLE HAIM: No way.

ESTE HAIM: I don't think they necessarily wanted it to become a profession.

ALANA HAIM: No, I think my parents were just super - I mean, when growing up, they were super supportive of the arts.

DANIELLE HAIM: My mom was also an art teacher. She was like, the hippie-cool art teacher and like, would let her students come in at lunch and like, paint their feelings. They knew how important, like, the arts were to like, expressing yourself. None of us got the art gene from my mom. I don't know where the...

ALANA HAIM: The visual art gene.

DANIELLE HAIM: The visual art gene was just not, I don't know what happened. I think my mom's a little bit bummed about it. My dad always says that we got our music gene from my dad. And my mom's like, well, what about the art gene?

(LAUGHTER)

DANIELLE HAIM: But, yeah. So my parents were - I mean, what, like, kid would be bummed that your parents were like, please play rock music. Can you just please, just please - for us - can you play rock music? It's just like, any kid would be - like, dope, like down.

ALANA HAIM: It's not like, I'm going to rebel and play Ravel.

DANIELLE HAIM: Yeah. There we go. There's your autobiography. There's your PSA.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Well, it's been so fun to talk with you guys. Alana, Danielle and Este Haim joined me from the BBC in London. Their debut album is out. Thanks, you guys. Have fun with everything.

ESTE HAIM: Thank you.

ALANA HAIM: Thank you.

DANIELLE HAIM: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

MARTIN: You can listen to "Days Are Gone" in its entirety at nprmusic.org, for a few more days. Go check it out. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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