Women In Music Pt. III

Women In Music Pt. III

HAIM only had one rule when they started working on their third album: There would be no rules. “We were just experimenting,” lead singer and middle sibling Danielle Haim tells Apple Music. “We didn’t care about genre or sticking to any sort of script. We have the most fun when nothing is off limits.” As a result, Women in Music Pt. III sees the Los Angeles sisters embrace everything from thrillingly heavy guitar to country anthems and self-deprecating R&B. Amid it all, gorgeous saxophone solos waft across the album, transporting you straight to the streets of their hometown on a sunny day. In short, it’s a fittingly diverse effort for a band that's always refused, in the words of Este Haim, to be “put in a box.” “I just hope people can hear how much fun we had making it,” adds Danielle, who produced the album alongside Rostam Batmanglij and Ariel Rechtshaid—a trio Alana Haim describes as “the Holy Trinity.” “We wanted it to sound fun. Everything about the album was just spontaneous and about not taking ourselves too seriously.” Yet, as fun-filled as they might be, the tracks on Women in Music Pt. III are also laced with melancholy, documenting the collective rock bottom the Haim sisters hit in the years leading up to the album’s creation. These songs are about depression, seeking help, grief, failing relationships, and health issues (Este has type 1 diabetes). “A big theme in this album is recognizing your sadness and expelling it with a lot of aggression,” says Danielle, who wanted the album to sound as raw and up close as the subjects it dissects. “It feels good to scream it in song form—to me that’s the most therapeutic thing I can do.” Elsewhere, the band also comes to terms with another hurdle: being consistently underestimated as female musicians. (The album’s title, they say, is a playful “invite” to stop asking them about being women in music.) The album proved to be the release they needed from all of those experiences—and a chance to celebrate the unshakable sibling support system they share. “This is the most personal record we’ve ever put out,” adds Alana. “When we wrote this album, it really did feel like collective therapy. We held up a mirror and took a good look at ourselves. It’s allowed us to move on.” Let HAIM guide you through Women in Music Pt. III, one song at a time. Los Angeles Danielle Haim: “This was one of the first songs we wrote for the album. It came out of this feeling when we were growing up that Los Angeles had a bad rep. It was always like, ‘Ew, Los Angeles!’ or ‘Fuck LA!’ Especially in 2001 or so, when all the music was coming out of New York and all of our friends ended up going there for college. And if LA is an eyeroll, the Valley—where we come from—is a constant punchline. But I always had such pride for this city. And then when our first album came out, all of a sudden, the opinion of LA started to change and everyone wanted to move here. It felt a little strange, and it was like, ‘Maybe I don’t want to live here anymore?’ I’m waiting for the next mass exodus out of the city and people being like, ‘This place sucks.’ Anyone can move here, but you’ve got to have LA pride from the jump.” The Steps Danielle: “With this album, we were reckoning with a lot of the emotions we were feeling within the business. This album was kind of meant to expel all of that energy and almost be like ‘Fuck it.’ This song kind of encapsulates the whole mood of the record. The album and this song are really guitar-driven [because] we just really wanted to drive that home. Unfortunately, I can already hear some macho dude being like, ‘That lick is so easy or simple.’ Sadly, that’s shit we’ve had to deal with. But I think this is the most fun song we’ve ever written. It’s such a live, organic-sounding song. Just playing it feels empowering.” Este Haim: “People have always tried to put us in a box, and they just don’t understand what we do. People are like, ‘You dance and don’t play instruments in your videos, how are you a band?’ It’s very frustrating.” I Know Alone Danielle: “We wrote this one around the same time that we wrote ‘Los Angeles,’ just in a room on GarageBand. Este came up with just that simple bassline. And we kind of wrote the melody around that bassline, and then added those 808 drums in the chorus. It’s about coming out of a dark place and feeling like you don't really want to deal with the outside world. Sometimes for me, being at home alone is the most comforting. We shout out Joni Mitchell in this song; our mom was such a huge fan of hers and she kind of introduced us to her music when we were really little. I'd always go into my room and just blast Joni Mitchell super loud. And I kept finding albums of hers as we've gotten older and need it now. I find myself screaming to slow Joni Mitchell songs in my car. This song is very nostalgic for her.” Up From a Dream Danielle: “This song literally took five minutes to write, and it was written with Rostam. It’s about waking up to a reality that you just don’t want to face. In a way, I don’t really want to explain it: It can mean so many different things to different people. This is the heaviest song we’ve ever had. It’s really cool, and I think this one will be really fun to play live. The guitar solo alone is really fun.” Gasoline Danielle: “This was another really quick one that we wrote with Rostam. The song was a lot slower originally, and then we put that breakbeat-y drumbeat on it and all of a sudden it turned into a funky sort of thing, and it really brought the song to life. I love the way that the drums sound. I feel like we really got that right. I was like literally in a cave of blankets, a fort we created with a really old Camco drum set from the ’70s, to make sure we got that dry, tight drum sound. That slowed-down ending is due to Ariel. He had this crazy EDM filter he stuck on the guitar, and I was like, ‘Yes, that’s fucking perfect.’” Alana Haim: “I think there were parts of that song where we were feeling sexy. I remember I had gone to go get food, and when I came back Danielle had written the bridge. She was like, ‘Look what I wrote!’ And I was like, ‘Oh! Okay!’” 3 AM Alana: “It’s pretty self-explanatory—it’s about a booty call. There have been around 10 versions of this song. Someone was having a booty call. It was probably me, to be honest. We started out with this beat, and then we wrote the chorus super quickly. But then we couldn’t figure out what to do in the verses. We’d almost given up on it and then we were like, ‘Let’s just try one last time and see if we can get there.’ I think it was close to 3 am when we figured out the verse and we had this idea of having it introduced by a phone call. Because it is about a booty call. And we had to audition a bunch of dudes. We basically got all of our friends that were guys to be like, ‘Hey, this is so crazy, but can you just pretend to be calling a girl at 3 am?’ We got five or six of our friends to do it, and they were so nervous and sheepish. They were the worst! I was like, ‘Do you guys even talk to girls?’ I think you can hear the amount of joy and laughs we had making this song.” Don’t Wanna Alana: “I think this is classic HAIM. It was one of the earlier songs which we wrote around the same time as ‘Now I’m in It.’ We always really, really loved this song, and it always kind of stuck its head out like, ‘Hey, remember me?’ It just sounded so good being simple. We can tinker around with a song for years, and with this one, every time we added something or changed it, it lost the feeling. And every time we played it, it just kind of felt good. It felt like a warm sweater.” Another Try Alana: “I've always wanted to write a song like this, and this is my favorite on the record. The day that we started it, I was thinking that I was going to get back together with the love of my life. I mean, now that I say that, I want to barf, because we're not in a good place now, but at that point we were. We had been on and off for almost 10 years and I thought we were going to give it another try. And it turns out, the week after we finished the song, he had gotten engaged. So the song took on a whole new meaning very quickly. It’s really about the fact I’ve always been on and off with the same person, and have only really had one love of my life. It’s kind of dedicated to him. I think Ariel had a lot of fun producing this song. As for the person it’s about? He doesn’t know about it, but I think he can connect the dots. I don’t think it’s going to be very hard to figure out. The end of the song is supposed to feel like a celebration. We wanted it to feel like a dance party. Because even though it has such a weird meaning now, the song has a hopeful message. Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll figure it out. I am still hopeful.” Leaning on You Alana: “This is really a song about finding someone that accepts your flaws. That’s such a rare thing in this world—to find someone you love that accepts you as who you are and doesn't want to change you. As sisters, we are the CEOs of our company: We have super strong personalities and really strong opinions. And finding someone that's okay with that, you would think would be celebrated, but it's actually not. It's really hard to find someone that accepts you and accepts what you do as a job and accepts everything about you. And I think ‘Leaning on You’ is about when you find that person that really uplifts you and finds everything that you do to be incredible and interesting and supports you. It’s a beautiful thing.” Danielle: “We wrote this song just us sitting around a guitar. And we just wanted to keep it like that, so we played acoustic guitar straight into the computer for a very dry, unique sound that I love.” I’ve Been Down Danielle: “This is the last one we wrote on the album. This was super quick with stream-of-consciousness lyrics. I wanted it to sound like you were in the room, like you were right next to me. That chorus—‘I’ve been down, I’ve been down’—feels good to sing. It's very therapeutic to just kind of scream it in song form. To me, it’s the most therapeutic thing I can do. The backing vocals on this are like the other side of your brain.” Man From the Magazine Este: "When we were first coming out, I guess it was perplexing for some people that I would make faces when I played, even though men have been doing it for years. When they see men do it, they are just, to quote HAIM, ‘in it.’ But of course, when a woman does it, it's unsettling and off-putting and could be misconstrued as something else. We got asked questions about it early on, and there was this one interviewer who asked if I made the faces I made onstage in bed. Obviously he wasn’t asking about when I’m in bed yawning. My defense mechanism when stuff like that happens is just to try to make a joke out of it. So I kind of just threw it back at him and said, ‘Well, there's only one way to find out.’ And of course, there was a chuckle and then we moved on. Now, had someone said that to me, I probably would've punched them in the face. But as women, we're taught kind of just to always be pleasant and be polite. And I think that was my way of being polite and nice. Thank god things are changing a bit. We've been talking about shit like this forever, but I think now, finally, people are able to listen more intently.” Danielle: “We recorded this song in one take. We got the feeling we wanted in the first take. The first verse is Este's super specific story, and then, on the second verse, it feels very universal to any woman who plays music about going into a guitar store or a music shop and immediately either being asked, ‘Oh, do you want to start to play guitar?’ or ‘Are you looking for a guitar for your boyfriend?’ And you're like, ‘What the fuck?’ It's the worst feeling. And I've talked to so many other women about the same experience. Everyone's like, ‘Yeah, it's the worst. I hate going in the guitar stores.’ It sucks.” All That Ever Mattered Alana: “This is one of the more experimental songs on the record. Whatever felt good on this track, we just put it in. And there’s a million ways you could take this song—it takes on a life of its own and it’s kind of chaotic. The production is bananas and bonkers, but it did really feel good.” Danielle: “It’s definitely a different palette. But to us it was exciting to have that crazy guitar solo and those drums. It also has a really fun scream on it, which I always like—it’s a nice release.” FUBT Alana: “This song was one of the ones that was really hard to write. It’s about being in an emotionally abusive relationship, which all three of us have been in. It’s really hard to see when you're in something like that. And the song basically explains what it feels like and just not knowing how to get out of it. You're just kind of drowning in this relationship, because the highs are high and the lows are extremely low. You’re blind to all these insane red flags because you’re so immersed in this love. And knowing that you're so hard on yourself about the littlest things. But your partner can do no wrong. When we wrote this song, we didn’t really know where to put it. But it felt like the end to the chapter of the record—a good break before the next songs, which everyone knew.” Now I’m in It Danielle: “This song is about feeling like you're in something and almost feeling okay to sit in it, but also just recognizing that you're in a dark place. I was definitely in a dark place, and it was just like I had to look at myself in the mirror and be like, ‘Yeah, this is fucked up. And you need to get your shit together and you need to look it in the face and know that you're here and work on yourself.’ After writing this song I got a therapist, which really helped me.” Hallelujah Alana: “This song really did just come from wanting to express how important it is to have the love of your family. We're very lucky that we each have two sisters as backup always. We wrote this with our friend Tobias Jesso Jr., and we all just decided to write verses separately, which is rare for us. I think we each wanted to have our own take on the lyric ‘Why me, how'd I get this hallelujah’ and what it meant to each of us. I wrote about losing a really close friend of mine at such a young age and going through a tragedy that was unexplainable. I still grapple with the meaning of that whole thing. It was one of the hardest times in my life, and it still is, but I was really lucky that I had two siblings that were really supportive during that time and really helped me get through it. If you talk to anybody that loses someone unexpectedly, you really do become a different person. I feel like I've had two chapters of my life at this point: before it happened and after it happened. And I’ve always wanted to thank my sisters at the same time because they were so integral in my healing process going through something so tragic.” Summer Girl Alana: This song is collectively like our baby. Putting it out was really fun, but it was also really scary, because we were coming back and we didn’t know how people were going to receive it. We’d played it to people and a lot of them didn’t really like it. But we loved everything about it. You can lose your confidence really quickly, but thankfully, people really liked it. Putting out this song really did give us back our confidence.” Danielle: “I've talked about it a lot, but this song is about my boyfriend getting cancer a couple of years ago, and it was truly the scariest thing that I have ever been through. I just couldn't stop thinking about how he was feeling. I get spooked really easily, but I felt like I had to buck the fuck up and be this kind of strong figure for him. I had to be this kind of sunshine, which was hard for me, but I feel like it really helped him. And that’s kind of where this song came from. Being the summer when he was just in this dark, dark place.”

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