no girl band: haim insulted by ‘medieval’ sexism in music
The band, Haim are quickly garnering both commercial and critical success. Their live performances are outstanding, their album Days are Gone has received gold level sales, as well and critical acclaim by both music journalists and their fellow musicians. Their music has frequently been likened to that of the legendary Fleetwood Mac, and it seems as though they are only going to go on to bigger and better things in their future, having just signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management group.
The band have recently hit out at those who characterise them as an all ‘girl band’, saying that this description is insulting to them, with its ‘medieval’ associations. After all, would we call Muse an ‘all boy band’? No. It’s clear to see why the band are offended by such gendered descriptions.
‘Growing up, there were a lot of girl artists like the Spice Girls, Aaliyah and Destiny’s Child,’ stated band member Alana Haim. ‘But none of them really played instruments and I would always look up to Stevie Nicks and Blondie – they are dope female musicians. So I just see us as a band. When people call us a girl band, I take it as an insult – being a girl in a band shouldn’t be a thing. It seems so medieval.’
The question of the gendered description of the band arose in regards to a question about the band’s touring drummer, Dash Hutton, who happens to be a male.
Haim were in Australia as part of the Laneway Festival 2014 tour in February, and are the latest from indie festivals’ strong female lineup to offer their stance on the gender divide of the male-minded state of today’s music industry.
They follow New Zealand’s singing sensation Lorde’s anti-sexism editorial about her rise to fame, a powerful and sophisticated piece from the seventeen-year-old, and Chvches singer Lauren Mayberry’s opinion piece about the misogyny she faces fronting the Scottish synth-pop band. Even more recently, Sky Ferreira also tackled the ‘vile, sexually abusive’ comments she regularly experiences in public outcry ahead of her debut Australian show in early March, and Sydney producer and performer Anna Lunoe harshly critiqued the lazy music media for their sexist approach following a journalist’s comparison of her to Miley Cyrus, adding to the ongoing and much needed industry discussion.
Particularly in Australia, female musicians have stated that the state of the music industry appears to be a male-dominated ‘boys club’, and makes it hard for them to get exposure and gain recognition. Late last year, a celebrated group of Australian female performers, including Megan Washington and Tina Arena, hit out at the unfair treatment of female artists in a Sydney Morning Herald article.
‘The challenges women have to face in the music industry [are similar] to the challenges women have to face in most industries predominantly run by men,’ wrote Washington. Arena agreed: ‘It’s very difficult to be a female in the industry in Australia, yes absolutely.’ Arena has spent the last part of 20 years dividing her time between Australia and France, living overseas in order to cultivate her singing career. ‘There are a hell of a lot of stumbling blocks in your path and whether they are there purposely or not women have to work unbelievably hard to have recognition in this country because it is predominantly an industry run by men.’
Haim hail from Los Angeles, so it is clear to see that the gendered terminology and fights against sexism in the music industry are issues in the United States as well as in Australia. In order to make any significant change in the manner in which female music artists are represented and given exposure, it must be an industry change. Until then, it’s best to characterise Haim as a trio of talented siblings, or an indie rock band from Los Angeles. Here’s hoping that the industry is listening to these many talented female musicians and actively fighting to make a change.