Interview: Haim

Haim talks writing new material, teaming up with Nike and how they got the choreography for their “If I Could Change Your Mind” video just right.

April 16, 2014

HAIM talks about their recent projects and always writing

Since their FADER cover and the release of their debut album, Days Are Gone, the Haim sisters have been keeping busy. In between touring around the globe, Danielle, Este and Alana released a very GIF-able throwback dance video choreographed by the great Fatima Robinson (Aaliyah, Dreamgirls) for their latest single, “If I Could Change Your Mind,” experienced their first Paris Fashion Week then teamed up with Nike to model the U.S. World Cup kit. Right before making their Coachella debut, Haim sat down with The FADER to talk about their recent projects, getting the choreography just right for their recent video and the possibility of a Haim nail art kit.

How did the Nike campaign come about? ESTE: We all played soccer growing up. ALANA: I was the best. ESTE: Alana was definitely the best soccer player. DANIELLE: My dad used to play soccer. You can imagine all he wanted was a boy to play soccer with and he ended up getting three girls. ESTE: But we still played soccer with him. DANIELLE: He tried to make us soccer players. ESTE: Didn’t really pan out that way, but we still love kicking the ball around in our backyard with our dad. We did the cover of the record on our soccer field. We’d set up a goal, and it’d be three against one but my dad always won. But yeah, we mentioned to a friend who knew someone at Nike that we love soccer and it was kind of word of mouth. They asked us to do it and of course we were like, “Duh.”

Are you going to the World Cup? ESTE: We want to. We’re going to be on tour until the end of July but we’re going to be rooting from our TV.

Who are you rooting for? ESTE: Obviously the USA. ALANA: We spend so much time in the UK, I feel like we kind of have to root for England too, but out of all the countries I think Brazil might be the best bet. But US first beyond everything

Where did the idea for the “If I Could Change Your Mind” video come from? DANIELLE: I’ve known Warren [Fu], our director, for a long time, because when I used to play with Julian [Casablancas] he did all of the art direction for the record. He always talked about doing a video and we wanted to do a dance video. He’s never done a dance video but we thought with his aesthetic and set design a dance video would be cool. So we talked about it and he was down for it. We said we would only do it if we got Fatima [Robinson] to choreograph because we’re such big fans. We reached out and she said “yeah” and we were like, “Okay, here we go. I guess we’re doing a dance video.” Once it was finally happening we were like, “Oh shit.”

What was the rehearsal like to get the moves down? DANIELLE: Intense. ALANA: We were about to go on our last UK tour. We didn’t even know if we were going to be able to do the video in that amount of time. We thought maybe we’d shoot it in Australia. But then we were like, “We’re just going to do it, fuck it.” DANIELLE: In three days. ALANA: We had band rehearsal for tour in the day and then from 8 at night—ESTE: Until 3 o’clock in the morning—ALANA: Until our feet bled, we had dance rehearsal. We did that for three days and got it pretty down after the first day. We were practicing in front of a mirror and then when we were about to do it we were like, “Uh, there’s no mirror. Oh shit, this is for real right now.” ESTE: We were making weird faces for a lot of takes because you don’t see yourself in the mirror, so you don’t know what you’re doing. ALANA: Your eyes are cross-eyed. ESTE: Your tongue is hanging out. ALANA: You have a weird dumb look on your face. But it was the craziest thing I’ve ever done, dancing in heels for three days. I felt like Beyoncé.

Would you do it again? ALL: Oh yeah, for sure. ALANA: And I forgot how much I love dance class, because we haven’t been since we were babies, since “Parakeets in Tap Shoes.” ESTE: That was the name of Alana’s first dance when she was four. It’s a really cute song. ALANA: Fatima whipped us into shape. She was no funny business. I think she took pity on us.

It was a transformative makeover moment. ALANA: It was. It was like “Making the Band.” It felt like “Making the Video.”

Have you been writing new material? DANIELLE: Yeah, we’re starting to write on the road. We have a little setup with GarageBand. ESTE: We’re demoing all of our lyrical and melodic ideas so there’s “My Song 7,” “8,” and “9” so far.

How do they compare to the songs on Days Are Gone? ESTE: The sound usually comes in the studio. Demos are pretty lyrical. They’re very bare bones.

Would you go in a completely different direction? ESTE: What, like a Klezmer record? We can do a polka record but we might save that for record five. ALANA: We put out music we like to listen to so if we’re liking what we hear in the studio, it’ll be released; if not, it goes in the trash.

Obviously you guys have been praised for your style. Has anyone approached you to do a line? ALANA: No.

Do you have any design aspirations? ALANA: We are in music mode. ESTE: I think you got to stick to what you know. When I was in high school, I used to take muu muus and put them upside down and make them into skirts and I feel like just that means maybe I shouldn’t be a designer. I don’t think I have the eye for it. But we like playing with clothes and picking things out for each other. ALANA: I’d rather put out seven records.

In your Coveteur interview, Alana, you said you’d be a nail artist if music didn’t work out. So I’m wondering when the Haim nail art kit is coming out. ALANA: Oh my god. ESTE: That actually might come out. ALANA: That would be my fucking dream. But I’ve thought about it and what would it even be? The world is my oyster. A lot has been done. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to reinvent the wheel. ESTE: Yeah, is there uncharted territory when it comes to nail art? ALANA: There was an April Fool’s thing that I totally fell for which was this kit were you could grow grass on your nails. I searched for hours trying to figure out how to grow grass on your nails and then I realized that it was a joke—but it was a great one. ESTE: I totally torched Alana on April Fool’s. I put an ad up on Craigslist on April Fool’s Day and said “Must sell Coachella ticket today, $50” with Alana’s number and said “The person who does the best Darth Vader impression on the answering machine gets the ticket.” So Alana kept deleting messages. ALANA: I had to change my number. ESTE: No, Alana didn’t change her number. After the day, people stopped doing it because they realized it was an April Fool’s joke. But for the first two hours it was up, it was pretty amazing. People definitely did their best Darth Vader. Some people did Chewbacca too.

Interview: Haim