Haim (pronounced HY-əm, /ˈhaɪ.əm/ and stylized as HAIM) is an American pop rock band from Los Angeles. The band consists of three sisters: Este Haim (bass), Danielle Haim (guitars and lead vocals) and Alana Haim (guitars and keyboards). In addition to their primary instruments, each member is also proficient in several others. The group's pop sound on their studio work stands in contrast to the more rock-based music of their live shows.
The sisters grew up in a musical family, and began playing instruments from an early age in the cover band Rockinhaim, fronted by their parents, Moti and Donna. The two elder sisters, Este and Danielle, began performing with the pop group Valli Girls in 2005. They released a few songs on soundtrack and compilation albums under that name, but left the group shortly after an appearance at the 2005 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. They formed Haim with younger sister Alana in 2007, but did not seriously consider it a professional career for some years. After Danielle became a successful touring guitarist, first with Jenny Lewis and later with Julian Casablancas, Haim reformed as a full-time operation in 2012.
The group's first release, Forever (an EP released as a limited-time download), combined with positive reception at the South by Southwest festival, led to a deal with Polydor Records and a management deal with Jay-Z's Roc Nation group in mid-2012. The band began recording material for their first album, Days Are Gone, in sessions between touring dates, including appearances at the Glastonbury Festival. The album charted in the top ten in several countries, including the number-one spot in the UK, and the group had won several "best of" awards by the end of 2013. The group was nominated for Best New Artist at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. Their second album, Something to Tell You, was released in July 2017.
The three sisters, Este Arielle Haim (b. March 14, 1986), Danielle Sari Haim (b. February 16, 1989) and Alana Mychal Haim (b. December 15, 1991) were born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, California, to a Jewish family. Their Israeli-born father Mordechai ("Moti") and their mother Donna were both musical; though he had been a professional soccer player in Israel, Moti also played drums, while Donna won a contest on The Gong Show in the 1970s singing a Bonnie Raitt song. While Danielle showed an aptitude for the guitar at a young age, Moti made the decision that Este would be more suited to the bass, buying her a second hand Fender for $50. The siblings were encouraged to listen to their parents' 1970s classic rock and Americana records and, during their childhood, the family formed a band called Rockinhaim to play cover versions at local charity fairs, with Moti on drums and Donna on guitar. The group played typical wedding band material, including the Beatles' "Get Back", Billy Joel's "You May Be Right" and Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl", but only did free community and benefit gigs at churches, schools and hospitals.
Danielle and Este were members of the pop-rock group the Valli Girls, and appeared on the soundtrack to the 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Their song "Valli Nation" by the "SoCal teen prodigies" appeared on the 2005 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards soundtrack alongside established musicians Avril Lavigne, Alicia Keys, Simple Plan and Good Charlotte.
As they grew older, the sisters became more interested in incorporating pop and contemporary R&B into their music, and in 2007 they decided to form their own band. For their first gig, the trio played at a Jewish deli in Hollywood and were paid in matzah ball soup. Early gigs were sparsely populated; Danielle recalled, "We were [at the] bottom of the bill at 50-capacity venues and no one would show up."
For the next five years, Haim played local venues but did not consider music as a professional career, because all three sisters were busy with other projects. Este was studying at UCLA and graduated in 2010 with a degree in Ethnomusicology (completed in just two years instead of the normal five), specializing in Bulgarian and Brazilian music.
Danielle Haim's guest appearances
After graduating from high school, Danielle was spotted by musician Jenny Lewis at a jam session in Laurel Canyon, which led to Danielle joining Lewis' touring band. The Strokes' singer Julian Casablancas came to see one of Lewis's shows on tour, and he in turn asked Danielle to play guitar and percussion on his solo tour. Danielle rehearsed with Casablancas' band every day for two months, which she later described as "an eye-opening experience." Following working with Casablancas, she toured as part of Scarlet Fever, the all-female backing band for CeeLo Green.
While Danielle enjoyed touring, she decided she would prefer to perform her own music alongside her sisters, turning down a lucrative tour deal with Green. Casablancas advised Danielle to write stronger material and focus on recording, as it would improve their online presence.
2012–13: Forever and commercial success
After playing shows supporting Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Henry Clay People and Kesha, Haim released the EP Forever, which included three songs in February 2012 as a time-limited free download on their website. Dash Hutton officially joined as drummer at the EP's release party at the Los Angeles Bootleg Theatre. He is the son of Three Dog Night's Danny Hutton and knew Este socially after she had seen his old band, Wires on Fire. The EP received attention from the music industry following a successful series of shows at the South by Southwest festival in March. Danielle recalled the first show was "maybe a disaster", but the remainder of the shows attracted more attention. The band subsequently signed a deal with Polydor Records in the UK in June.
In July, independent record label National Anthem re-released the Forever EP on 10" vinyl, containing the original three songs along with a fourth track, a remix of "Forever" by Dan Lissvik. Following dates supporting Mumford & Sons on their Gentlemen of the Road tour in the US in August, Haim toured the UK for the first time in November 2012 and then supported Florence and the Machine on their UK and Ireland tour in December.
British music magazine New Musical Express made the title track of the Forever EP its number 4 track of 2012. On January 4, 2013 the BBC announced that Haim had topped their annual Sound of 2013 music industry poll to find the most promising new musical acts for the coming year. The group also signed a management contract with the conglomerate Roc Nation, returned to South by SouthWest in March 2013 and earned their own "At Your Request" video feature on Idolator. In early 2013, they were featured on American recording artist Kid Cudi's third studio album Indicud, on the song titled "Red Eye". Danielle Haim appeared on the first track, "You're No Good", from Major Lazer's second album, Free the Universe, alongside Santigold, Vybz Kartel and Yasmin.
2013–14: Days Are Gone
The group spent a year recording their first album, Days Are Gone, in sessions between live shows. The group experimented with drum machines and the music program GarageBand, adding hip hop and R&B influences to their existing sound. Polydor recommended producers Ariel Rechtshaid and James Ford to help with the album, who suggested further use of synthesizers, bringing the album closer to a straighforward pop style. Several of the drum tracks were recorded with gated reverb, made famous by Phil Collins. In June 2013, the group performed at Glastonbury Festival, and in addition to their own set, the band appeared with Primal Scream performing background vocals on "It's Alright, It's OK", "Rocks" and "Come Together". The band later returned for a repeat performance at Glastonbury in 2014. After their set, Este nearly had a diabetic seizure, she suffers from Type-1 diabetes and was diagnosed with it in 2000.
The single "The Wire" was released on July 29 and the album followed on September 30. The album reached number one in the UK and has since sold 200,000 copies there. To promote the album, the group performed "The Wire" on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show, with Este dedicating the song to the British Prime Minister David Cameron, also a guest on the show. The move was criticised as being ill-judged by Johnny Marr, who stated that “It’s really simple: they made themselves look like idiots. It’s ridiculous. No-one put a gun to their head. The Conservatives tried to do the same thing with The Smiths, to re-appropriate us in a false way, to be cool by association.” Haim did not respond.
Haim subsequently toured Europe throughout the remainder of 2013, recruiting touring keyboardist Tommy King, as well as performing as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on November 23 with host Josh Hutcherson. The group performed "The Wire" and "Don't Save Me" and Este considered this performance particularly poignant as a high school drama teacher had once told her "You're never going to be on Saturday Night Live." The main US tour followed in April 2014 and continued into May.
In 2014, the sisters recorded backing vocals with the supergroup The New Basement Tapes for their album Lost on the River, performing on the tracks "Kansas City" and "The Whistle Is Blowing".
2014–present: Something to Tell You
In 2014, Haim were awarded the NME "Best International Band" award. In August, the band released the video for "My Song 5" in a remixed version, featuring American rapper, A$AP Ferg. This is the sixth single taken from Days Are Gone. Haim and Jon Heder made an appearance for the music video of Chromeo's "Old 45's". In October, the group recorded a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" with Stevie Nicks. As of October 2014, the group is recording their second album, having written a bulk of new material while on tour over the year. The band is also featured on the original soundtrack of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and The Divergent Series: Insurgent. In November, the group contributed their vocals to the track "Pray to God" on Calvin Harris' fourth studio album Motion.
The group have become friends with singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, and together they have visited Catalina and Maui, Hawaii. In the summer of 2015, Haim opened for Taylor Swift at select dates on The 1989 World Tour. The group were nominated for Best New Artist at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. Danielle was injured in an accident just before the awards, but shortly afterwards tweeted that she was recovering.
In March 2016, Haim released a teaser announcing new music and a new tour for that summer. In an interview with NME on January 18, 2017, Haim announced their second album will be released that summer. In April, a teaser video shot by Paul Thomas Anderson was released of a new song, "Right Now" from their second album, Something to Tell You, released on July 7. Its lead single, "Want You Back", was released on May 3. The band followed up the release with various promotional appearances, including a return appearance on Saturday Night Live, where they performed "Want You Back" and "Little of Your Love".
Haim has been compared to the 1970s soft-rock band Fleetwood Mac, though the group says they are "squeamish" about this comparison and insist they are influenced by more recent music. According to Metro, their music sounds like folk-rock "with a few R&B/hip-hop stylings thrown in for good measure". The group are fans of, and have been influenced by Beyoncé, covering her song "XO" on BBC Radio 1's "Live Lounge", and described "My Song 5" as "ripping off" Timbaland.
The group has rejected the "girl band" label, preferring to be respected as musicians on their individual merits. Alana stated, "When people call us a girl band, I take it as an insult – being a girl in a band shouldn’t be a thing.” All three sisters are proficient on more than one instrument: Este plays both guitar and bass, Danielle plays guitar and drums, and Alana plays guitar, keyboards and percussion. For live performances, Este plays bass, Danielle plays lead guitar and sings lead vocals, and Alana plays rhythm guitar along with keyboards and percussion. All three sisters contribute three part vocal harmony.
The band's live sound is different to that in the studio. Writing for NME, Hazel Sheffield said that Days Are Gone "may confuse those won over by their raw, rocking live shows." Recordings demonstrate the group's vocal pop style, while the group plays typical rock material such as Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" in concert. The group's background in wedding bands from their days as Rockinhaim has led them to cover many different songs live and for radio sessions, including Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball", Sheryl Crow's "Strong Enough" and the Strokes' "I'll Try Anything Once" (an early version of "You Only Live Once"). Este acts as the group's MC onstage, announcing most of the songs. Many of her on stage antics, such as her blunt and coarse banter with the audience, frequent illeism and her amusing facial expressions (the "bass face") while playing are staples of the band's live shows and to a lesser extent, the band's public image.
Hutton left the band in 2017 in order to focus on his own projects. As of May 2017 the touring members are drummer Jody Giachello and keyboardist Tommy King.
Critical reaction to Haim has been positive. PopMatters' Matt James wrote "It'd be hard to truly dislike Haim. They're an eminently likeable, albeit slightly kooky, trio whose story already bears the frisson of legend." Writing for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis praised the band's songwriting abilities, saying it "has a certain kind of glossily depthless pop perfection down pat". The band's sound has been described as "nu-folk-meets-nineties-R&B" and "music that sounds like it was written on a lakeside retreat attended by Stevie Nicks, John Waite and En Vogue".
In her survey of pop music in 2013, Observer critic Kitty Empire praised the band for "using the vector of harmonies to splice R&B with 1970s soft rock. They laid waste, too, to a herd of ghastly old hobby horses about guitar bands being unmarketable and record sales only being tied to women's state of undress."