Self-confessed 'wolfpack' discuss debut album, Beyonce and sexism in music
Andrew Trendell

12:06 30th May 2013

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It's been a massive year for California pop-rockers Haim. There undeniably infectious blend of 90s R n' B, classic rock and folk earned them the title of BBC's Sound of 2013 and won them the hearts and ears of music fans the world over.

But it's not been an easy journey. As well as having hype to live up to, the sisters Haim have also had to battle sexism to be taken seriously as 'more than just a girl band'. Quite fitting then, that they've earned an enviable slot at Beyonce's Chime for Change gig on Saturday - aimed at raising awareness for justice and equality for women. 

Ahead of their sold-out London shows at Heaven and Koko, we spoke to Alana, Danielle and Este Haim about Beyonce, gender stereotypes, fighting prejudice and what the hell's taking so long with their debut album...

So does England feel like a home away from home yet?
Alana: Oh yeah. Out of all of the sisters, I have the worst sense of direction. Every time I say something it's usually the exact opposite, but in London I'm like 'hey we're up in Camden right now!' But London was the first place to really accepted us with open arms - (sings Creed) 'with arms wide oopen!'

Este: Yay, we're on Creed!
Alana: Finally! But London was the first place where we played a gig and the band sang back our lyrics.

So you guys are at Chime for Change on Saturday. That's got a pretty insane line-up.
Alana: It's so insane. I don't even know what to think about it. I'm really looking forward to Iggy Azalea
Este: I'm really excited about Beyonce.
Alana: Oh, well obviously Beyonce, but in terms of new artists.
Este: Yeah, plus J-Lo and Madonna. I think she's just presenting but it doesn't matter. I just want to touch the hamburger oven.

Haim say that they've fought hard to be seen as 'more than just a girl band'

Do you see yourselves collaborating with anyone on the day?
Alana: I hope so.
Este: Our dad might come on stage.
Alana: Yeah, that would be the biggest collaboration of all, with Papa Haim. But yeah, I hope so. Maybe Timbaland will come up to us and be like 'oh, I love you guys!' And I'll be like 'yes! You just made my life'.
Este: Or Beyonce
Danielle: Yeah, but I think Beyonce will be busy with Blue Ivy.
Alana: Oh my God. If I see Blue Ivy, I think I might die.
Este: I might start crying.
Danielle: Imagine seeing Blue in her little director's chair.
Alana: Oh my God. If I see Blue Ivy, I think I might die. Imagine Blue Ivy in her baby director's chair - the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life. If I can get an Instagram with Blue Ivy I'd be so happy!"

Other than the artists, what attracted you to Chime For Change? Are you big supporters of the cause?
Este: Yes. It's based on women's rights and empowering women. It's all about the ladies. I think it's a pretty dope cause. We make up how much of the world? Like 53 per cent. Girls - we run the world. It's awesome and very much needed. I think this is a step in the right direction.

In light of the event aiming to raise awareness for the equality of women, did you see the footage of Beyonce being slapped on the bum at a concert?
Alana: No! What did she do? Just kinda wagged her finger, threatened to kick the guy out then kept performing.
Danielle: Wow, she is so professional.
Este: She is way more professional than I am. I'd have been like 'woah woah woah woah - stop the music'.

So if that had happened at a Haim gig it would have got pretty ugly?
Alana: Well it depends which Haim it was. I'd say don't touch Este's ass because she'd be coming after you. Me, I'd probably be too nervous and blush.

Would you say that you guys have encountered much sexism as female musicians?
Danielle: We really did in the early days. Just playing around LA. We'd show up at a gig and there would be a sound guy who could not give two shits about us. They'd be like 'oh fuck it's a girl band', then we'd start playing and afterwards they'd say 'oh actually you're pretty good.'
Este:...for a girl band.
Danielle: Yeah, sometimes we'd show up to support a bunch of guys and they'd be like 'oh, we have a girl band opening for us?' Sometimes we wouldn't get a very good soundcheck, and just shit like that.
Este: Even at shows too. I remember when we were on tour with Julian Casablancas.
Alana: Yeah, I was wearing leopard-print pants, and we were in middle-America. You know - bad idea! I stepped onto the stage and this guy shouted 'nice leopard pants'. That was embarrassing. We were just tuning and we had not even played a single note yet.
Danielle: It's kind of ridiculous when you think of how many awesome females there have been in rock and roll and still today, how guys just don't think that girls have a place there.

Danielle Haim at Radio One's Big Weekend

Did you guys see that blog post from Grimes?
Danielle: Yes, she's amazing. She has a really strong female voice.
Alana: Yes! I read that and just thought 'you go girl'.

She was talking about how women in music are either sexualised or infantilised. Do you find that these are still huge obstacles to overcome in terms of perception?
Este: I haven't personally, but no one really sexualises us because we dress like men.
Alana: We've done a few photo shoots where people have wanted to dress us in girly things or have us underwater in bathing suits.
Este: The strangest thing is when they want us to push all of our faces really close together. It's really weird.
Alana: People see us as a girl band so they want to make us seem girly and cute and fun.
Este: We did a photo shoot where they wanted us in heels and I had a heart attack because I've never worn heels in my life and they're too girly for me. I feel like a man in heels. I don't like those kinds of things, but everything is definitely taking a step in the right direction. I'm really stoked that Grimes did that.
Alana: I wish Grimes was at Chime for Change now. Hey Beyonce! Get Grimes!

Danielle, Alana and Este say they 'have each other's backs'

When it comes to things like these photo shoots where they're trying to force you into a shape that doesn't fit, do you think it's easier to deal with as sisters?
Alana: Oh yeah, because we have tricks to get each other through it. We definitely have strong opinions and say no to many things but we just have to bite the bullet. We just want to be us, that's why we're here, that's why people want to see us and we do have a vision.
Este: And we do have each other's backs.
Alana: We're a wolfpack, and you can't really change a wolfpack's vision. People try.

How's the new album coming along and when can we hear it?
Alana: It's awesome and it's coming. Danielle: We like to keep it a secret. The record is the only thing we've only ever kept a secret in our entire career because it's our baby. It's so close to being out and we're super excited about it.
Este: It will be out this side of summer...2018

This time last year you were virtually unheard of, and now you're selling out Koko and Heaven and appearing at a huge festival curated by Beyonce without even having an album out. Where do you see yourselves this time next year?
Este: Hopefully in June of next year, we'll be touring the record. We love touring, but then maybe some kind of vacation?
Alana: No! No vacation!
Este: This time next year we'll just be doing more of the same but maybe bigger and better. Maybe with fireworks.
Alana: Maybe some pyro. I love confetti cannons. If we can afford confetti cannons by this time next year then I will know that we've made it. Nothing says 'party' like confetti.

Este Haim at Radio One's Big Weekend

Haim play Koko in London tonight (Thursday 30 May).

For information visit Gigwise gig tickets

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