Haim drops new single, talks life during quarantine: ‘Este went full “Cast Away”’
The sisters of L.A.’s Haim had just gotten serious about promoting their new record when the world shut down.
On a trip to New York in March following their appearance at Florida’s Okeechobee festival, the sisters performed the slinky-fuzzy “The Steps” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”; the next night, the group kicked off what was to have been a tour of Jewish delis not unlike Canter’s, where Danielle, Este and Alana Haim — then playing classic rock and soul covers with their parents in a family band called Rockinhaim — performed their first real gig in 2000.
“Then everything just came to a complete stop,” Danielle, 31, recalled this week. “It was so shocking.”
Having just announced that the album, “Women in Music Pt. III,” would come out April 24, the sisters decided to push its release to later in the year — one of numerous high-profile projects (along with records by Lady Gaga and the Dixie Chicks) delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now the band has a new new plan: On Wednesday, Haim revealed that “Women in Music Pt. III” — its third LP overall and the follow-up to 2017’s “Something to Tell You” — will arrive June 26, well before the return of business as usual but just in time for the warm weather that Haim’s shimmering pop-rock has always embodied.
“It feels like we’ve gotten into a little bit of the new normal with the quarantine,” Danielle said in a joint call with Este, 34, and Alana, 28, each checking in from her respective home. “And we really want it to be out for the summer.”
Along with Wednesday’s announcement came a single, “I Know Alone” — in which Danielle sings, “Been a couple days since I’ve been out,” over a skittering electronic groove — as well as a music video featuring some socially distanced choreography.
Playing weddings was a safe, steady gig for musicians. Until coronavirus. Now wedding bands, DJs and planners wonder when their next gig might come.
“I Know Alone” feels like a shelter-in-place anthem.
Alana: It’s so crazy — we wrote it a year ago about coming home from tour, and now it has this completely different meaning. And when this quarantine is over, it’ll take on another meaning.
Do you think of it as a happy song or a sad song? The words are heavy, but the beat is light on its feet.
Danielle: That’s a classic thing that we’ve always responded to in music. A lot of Abba songs do that: [sings] “One of us is crying…”
Alana: Everyone loves an emotional bop.
The dancing has a similar quality.
Alana: I think it has an eerie tone to it. We choreographed it with Francis, from Francis and the Lights, over Zoom, which was funny. Some of the moves are like the feeling of what it’s like to go through quarantine — there’s a dance move of swiping through your phone and putting your head on your fist and looking off into the distance.
Este: The sad scroll is a mood.
Alana: We obviously had crazier ambitions for the music video — way bigger, with more people. But I think what we came out with was actually better than what we were originally envisioning. It was also fun to be creative in such a weird time.
Danielle: Leading up to the quarantine, the days were packed. We were working on the album up till the second we had to turn it in. And when we came back from doing “Fallon,” we were like, “What can we do?”
Alana: We were craving a homework assignment, and so we had this thing that we needed to do. It was kind of cool waking up in the morning and having this set call: “OK, we’re gonna have dance practice at 3 o’clock every day.” It took us out of our rut and gave us a sense of energy and brightness.
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What’s been the routine at home?
Alana: It’s the most boring routine of all time. Wake up, make coffee, maybe I’ll do a puzzle, maybe I’ll try to attempt to do an online workout but probably give up halfway through because I’m insanely out of shape.
Este: I actually really like being alone. But there have been weird — like, I bought a back scratcher because I don’t have Danielle or Alana to scratch my back.
Alana: Este, you went full “Cast Away.”
Este: I did paint faces to represent Danielle and Alana on an exercise ball that I had in my house. So they were keeping me company. But I think after a while I just kind of fell into it. The feeling of missing people never really went away, but I’m so used to going into survival mode because I’m a Type 1 diabetic — it didn’t really feel any different than when my blood sugar’s low and I can’t find OJ. You just have to figure it out.
What have you been eating?
Este: I lived on rice and beans for a good three weeks. Jars and jars and jars of rice and beans. I think the most adventurous thing I’ve done is making Nice Cream, which is just literally blending up a bunch of frozen stuff and then eating it.
And your approach to staying sane?
Este: I just think it’s important to try and take it day by day. If you wanna cry, you cry. If you wanna scream at the top of your lungs in your apartment, you scream at the top of your lungs in your apartment. That’s kind of how I’ve been operating. And I watched a bunch of the Criterion Collection.
That high-brow binge.
Este: “Seven Samurai” — so good.
Danielle, I appreciated the Los Angeles Times blanket you were wearing on Instagram recently.
Didn’t look particularly warm, though.
Danielle: Oh, it wasn’t for warmth — it was to cover my bits.
How are your parents faring?
Alana: Having to teach them how to FaceTime has taken me a good half the quarantine. They literally don’t know how to do anything on the internet. I mean, the amount of having to deal with, “The Netflix isn’t opening!” But they’re doing great. I just wish they were a little more technically inclined because that’s how we need to communicate right now, and they’re having trouble. It’s given me 14 gray hairs, but we’re getting through it.
This weekend felt like the arrival of summer in L.A. What did that make you miss?
Este: Dodger games.
Danielle: The beach.
Alana: See, we don’t have pools.
Este: If any of our friends are reading this right now, you better believe I’ll be hitting you up to use your pool when this is all over with.
Alana: We’ve decided when this is over that “No” isn’t going to be in our vocabulary.
Este: “You wanna go to Zebulon at 1 in the morning on a Tuesday?” “Sure, I’ll see you there!”
Alana: I’m gonna have “Yeah, I’ll do that s—” embroidered on every T-shirt I own.
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