Haim Talk 'More Organic' Second Album, Writing at Home - Rolling Stone
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Haim Talk ‘More Organic’ Second Album, Writing in Family Living Room

Sisters returned home to create long-awaited ‘Days Are Gone’ follow-up

Haim Esta Alana Danielle recording studioHaim Esta Alana Danielle recording studio

Este, Alana and Danielle Haim (from left) reunited with 'Days Are Gone' co-producer Ariel Rechtshaid to work on their long-awaited second LP.

Pierre Auroux

In early 2015, after more than three years on tour, the Haim sisters returned to exactly where they started: the living room of their parents’ Los Angeles home, surrounded by musical instruments that instantly evoked memories from their lives playing together, first in a covers band with their parents called Rockinhaim and, for the past decade, simply as Haim. Over the years, the room had transformed into a practice space and recording studio, as their father Moti filled it with instruments and gear he’d purchased at estate sales and flea markets.

The sisters agree that the room has its own special magic. “All of our band rehearsals until recently were in our living room, and we wrote every song in our living room,” says bassist Este. “So it was surreal and kind of emotional to be like, ‘We’re going to the Grammys in a week and we’re back in the living room trying to write a new album.'”

Haim’s 2013 debut, Days Are Gone – a sleek, hook-y amalgam of the sisters’ folk, rock, R&B and pop influences – had helped earn the band a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, along with a slew of critical accolades, and famous fans including Jay Z and Taylor Swift. “We’ve gone through a lot these last couple years,” says guitarist Danielle. She says that, thematically, many of the new songs were inspired by how it felt to be back home, dealing with the relationships they had left behind – “trying to go back to your normal life, but realizing there is a difference.”

Early in the writing process, Haim were asked to compose a song for a movie, and Danielle says that having a kind of “homework assignment” helped them “kick down the door,” creatively. They came up with a buoyant, piano-driven tune called “Little of Your Love” that they decided to keep for themselves. That song sparked a creative burst that kept the sisters busy for several weeks. They ended up with more than a dozen tunes, including the instantly memorable “Nothing’s Wrong” – a kinetic, harmony-driven pop-rock number that recalls Nineties Shania Twain. When the melodic idea came to her, Danielle says, “I remember thinking the verse was very immediate. It made me feel something.”

After the initial writing sessions at their parents’ house, Haim relocated to Days Are Gone producer Ariel Rechtshaid’s Silver Lake studio to begin recording. This time around, Danielle says they decided to focus on their musical roots. “We’ve always been very interested in combining organic and non-organic sounds in our music,” she says. “On the first record, we were really obsessed with mixing the two in a way where you couldn’t tell if a snare was real or a sample. We still love that, but this time we came at it from a more organic, rock standpoint. Because when we play live, we realize that ultimately, we’re a rock band.” 

Haim also recorded a handful of songs with Vampire Weekend producer (and former member) Rostam Batmanglij. “Rostam is very fast and we work very quickly and spur-of-the-moment with him,” says Danielle. As of late April, they were still recording new tracks, hoping to finish in time to release an LP this fall. But for now, they’re not stressing. “We make the music we make, and we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” says Este. “It’s been more about coming together and asking each other how we were feeling and what we were feeling and how we wanted to express that.”

“There’s never a plan,” adds Alana. “We kind of just let our bodies do the work.”

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