Born in India and raised in Canada, Emily Haines is the powerhouse frontwoman of Metric, a Broken Social Scene collaborator and, all in all, Â is cooler than a paddlepop. The daughter of poet Paul Haines, her songwriting is daring, philosophical and only gets better as she grows bolder. She’s in Australia with Metric on a big national tour that kicks off on Dec 7 in Perth before heading to Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and across the pond to Auckland. We’re so excited these guys are coming for a little island holiday, we only wish they’d stay forever. Emily, if you’re out there reading this, we can sweeten the pot by offering you a permanent residency at the Yen office. Blink casually if you accept.
Here’s what happened when we had a chat with Emily Haines recently. For tour info and tickets, go here!
Hi Emily, how are you?
Really great! Weâ€™re in Chicago, the tour is going great, weâ€™re just wrapping up this leg and getting ourselves excited to come join you guys in Australia!
How was it playing at Coachella this year? Is it different from other festivals?
Itâ€™s kind of the holy grail of festivals, for concertgoers as well because itâ€™s just a beautiful part of the world. The images that we have, the negative ones that we have associated with festivals, of mud and long lines at porta potties, thatâ€™s not really the Coachella experience. Itâ€™s such a beautiful, natural part of the world. The only downside was that our dear friend, who is now not with us, Lou Reed, was scheduled to perform with us, which we were no longer able to do. Thatâ€™s just something Iâ€™m always going to regret.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
Basically my whole life is a pre-performance ritual at this point; the 23 hours of the day that lead to that one hour on stage. Itâ€™s an interesting life because you approach it almost like an athlete. That hour or hour and a half that youâ€™re on stage, thatâ€™s it, thatâ€™s what the whole day is for and youâ€™re always working towards that heightened, enhanced state where every second counts. I like to make sure Iâ€™m surrounded by people that I want to be around. I also have all my personal things that I do to keep myself fit and healthy. The main thing I will never let happen to me is some random conversation before I walk on stage.
Like before an exam?
Exactly! Someone is like â€˜Hey did you dye your hair?â€™ No. We lock it down. Thatâ€™s our ritual.
Who ‘wears the pants’?
I wear â€˜the shortsâ€™. Itâ€™s a family. The four of us are like a family with no parents. Over the years of our friendship, weâ€™ve been together for ten years now, weâ€™ve developed a great travelling group and thereâ€™s not really a power dynamic like that. We all have ways of getting things done, its ingrained at this point, we donâ€™t even have to speak. Itâ€™s a pretty good thing.
Biggest musical crush?
I suppose itâ€™s got to be Damon Albarn I think itâ€™s pretty amazing how he has continued to evolve as a musician. I find it inspiring. Blur is a certain type of thing at a certain time. To be able to evolve out of the dynamic of a rock band-type culture, to be able to continue to develop as a musician and artist and collaborate, thatâ€™s something I really look up to.
What was a really pivotal gig for you guys?
A great pivotal moment was at the Silverlake Lounge in Los Angeles, it used to be a transvestite dive bar. We were really lucky â€˜cause someone got us a gig there and we got a residency. Thatâ€™s where I feel it was the beginning of the band.
What was the first album you ever owned?
Iâ€™m so bad at recalling. My dad and brother gave me so much music as a kid, I donâ€™t really remember my first purchase. I do remember that the song that totally blew my mind was Laurie Andersonâ€™s â€˜O Supermanâ€™.
What other jobs have you had besides music?
Nothing really. I worked in the East Village at a cafÃ© for a little while but I was very fortunate, and very determined that it would be a temporary thing. Itâ€™s been just music for a long time. The only other job that probably counts was working at the Jewish Community Centre in Toronto, handing out towels to old guys going to shvitz in the steam rooms.
Strangest sighting from living in NYC?
Someone told me that Jack White used to work there [the cafÃ©] and I used to serve Chloe Sevigny all the time and Michael Fassbender. They would justâ€¦ be in there.
What’s something that you haven’t done yet but would love to?
There are a lot of things. I think I would really like to learn another language. Iâ€™ve got French and English obviouslyâ€¦ hopefully. I started learning Spanish when I was living and writing in Argentina but itâ€™s still not enough. Especially as a musician, I think that there are so many amazing things that you can express in other languages that you canâ€™t in your first language. It re-animates the world when everything you look at, you see as another word. I think itâ€™s good to keep the brain fresh. Iâ€™ve got to learn Spanish before the day is out. I know itâ€™s not like a crazy, exciting goal, but Iâ€™d like to really get there.
Why did you pick Argentina?
That was actually where most of Fantasies was written, the album that for us, started our relationship with Australia. It began with Triple J as the first song â€˜Help Iâ€™m Aliveâ€™ was leaked and Triple J got a hold of it. They were the first people in the world to start playing it so I feel like that was the beginning of our long, happy relationship with Australia. Writing that record I felt like I wanted a place where I didnâ€™t know anyone or anything and I found an amazing place with a piano in Buenos Aires and I just went there. Thatâ€™s part of enjoying life as a musician, pushing myself to go places that Iâ€™ve never been.
What’s the secret to success?
It depends on how you define success. For us, success is continuing to evolve, continuing the make music and continuing to improve as human beings and artists. I would say the secret to success is: steady on and donâ€™t compromise.
For Metric tickets, head over to Live Nation.