By Ariel Rechtshaid

In our GRAMMYs As Told To series, chatted with an artist about one of the Best New Artist nominees at the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Here, we feature HAIM as seen through the eyes of producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who helped craft the band’s debut album, Days Are Gone.

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A lot of people that I’m drawn to work with personally, which is not a lot of people, are people who really inspire me in a musical sense, in a way that could be easily forgotten in the world of hype. There are so many factors surrounding the popularity of an artist these days, which are all good and all important and I don’t mean to take away from that, but the one thing that HAIM has that not everyone has—and in fact very few people have—is that they’re a real band.

The first time I saw them play, when they asked me what I thought, I think I said something along the lines of it being ‘intense.’ They weren’t sure what I meant by that, like does that mean ‘weird’? What does that even mean?

I meant it quite literally. Seeing three sisters onstage locking in together in such a way…it’s rare enough to see real musicians anyway, and then they’re even a step beyond most bands, because they’re not just up there jamming in any stylized way. It really felt like it was coming from the core. You could almost see these bolts of lightning attaching them together through their eyes. It was one singular, cohesive, three-headed single unit.

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Beyond being sisters who play together, they’re just so skilled. That’s not something that everybody even necessarily picks up on other than on a subconscious level. They’ve been playing for so long. Their dad is a drummer, and it all comes from a very rhythmic place. I think they all started out on drums, so even Este’s bass playing is so rhythmic and so funky and so rare. Danielle’s vocals are rhythmic as well. They create this sound that doesn’t actually sound like Michael Jackson or Chaka Khan, but it has the same spirit. It’s just so…big.

You see the kind of people who are inspired by HAIM and are into the band, like Fleetwood Mac, which is such a great honor from one of the best bands of all time, really, to another. I’ve seen Jackson Browne come up to them at a restaurant and compliment them, I’ve seen Justin Timberlake come up to them and compliment them and invite us all to his show. These are huge honors. I’ve worked with Usher, and I played him their stuff and he was blown away.

There’s pop celebrity presence, and then there’s the thing that musicians can articulate but I think everyone feels. HAIM has both, really. When I saw them play, I pretty much dropped everything I was doing and dedicated essentially a year to helping them find their voice on record. From my perspective, they’re definitely the best new artist.

The 57th annual GRAMMY Awards will be broadcast on CBS on Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. ET.

As Told To Scott T. Sterling


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