Twisted Sisters: Exploring the psychic, sonic bond among the members of Haim

Photography by Bella Lieberberg
Photography by Bella Lieberberg

There are three voices talking at once, and a blow-dryer is whirling at high speed via a long-distance call from Australia. The first remotely audible sound is from 24-year-old Danielle Haim, who immediately excuses herself from the interview to use the shower because her throat is feeling “nasty.” The second is from 27-year-old Este Haim, and the third is from 21-year-old Alana Haim, who blurts out a “Thanks for the call, man!” and shakes the receiver.

Alana apologizes for the lame, crackling phone connection and explains that this is how it always is with the sisters’ band, Haim. Overlapping thoughts. Different schedules happening at once. Various energy levels. “We are all-over-the-place crazy until it really matters,” she says, “but when it’s time to rock, everyone sits tight and has to work at the same speed. It was so much harder to work with other people. We’re best friends too.”

Alana says that in the midst of the chaos, they always have a trick up their sleeve—something that she feels other musical sister acts such as Heart, Tegan and Sara and CocoRosie must also share.

“We have this psychic sister thing going on that makes us finish [each other’s] sentences, lyrics and chords. It’s pretty weird for the average person, but for us, and I think for other sister groups, it’s a normal way to communicate.”

This explanation doesn’t sound heavy-handed after listening to Haim’s magnificent EP of 2012, Forever, or the new single, “The Wire,” off their debut album, Days Are Gone, out October 1. Both feature a sunny mix of the band’s Californian roots and relay choruses that bring to mind Heart and Fleetwood Mac.

“If Haim could write a soundtrack to any book, it would be a toss-up between The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis,” says Este, in an effort to describe the new album.

“One would be the dopest, craziest ’80s guitar music—like the Bangles’ “Hazy Shade of Winter”—and the other would be chilled-out melodies. That’s the kind of library we’re inspired by now.”

It is no wonder the three women get a kick out of literary references. The lyrics to their second single, “Don’t Save Me”—specifically the profound lines “Hungry for what was to come / Now I’m longing for the way I was”—could be read as a modern take on William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience.

“We still ache to play together in our garage or in small dives and gigs around our ’hood,” says Alana. “But we just played Glastonbury, and we are totally ready for the next big thing.”