Soundtrack Of My Life: Metric’s Emily Haines

Canadian synth-punk, made in NYC

The first song I remember hearing

Carla Bley – ‘End Of Head’

“My dad [poet and lyricist Paul Haines] wrote the lyrics for the album, ‘Escalator Over The Hill’. It’s this really epic double album, a very avant garde jazz experiment. We were in India, where I was born, when he was working on it. My family was pretty steeped in music when I was growing up – and pretty weird music too! The first line is: ‘They check her flavor/By sticking straws into her eyes‘.”

The first album I ever owned


Lou Reed – ‘Street Hassle’

“My brother was very protective about keeping me away from what he considered ‘crap on the radio’. He gave me this Lou Reed solo album on cassette tape. Even listening to it today, it seems so bold. Like, ‘are you even allowed to say what you’re saying?!’ I first met Lou at a tribute to Neil Young, I assumed he’d say hi and that would be the end of it. But to my surprise he actually knew my work and he said ‘Emily Haines, who would you rather be – The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?’ which is a line from [Metric song] ‘Gimme Sympathy’. And I said: ‘Well, the Velvet Underground of course.’ Crazily, I got to introduce Lou to my brother later at a personal function that I was holding. It was one of the weirdest things visually for me: ‘Hey Tim, here’s Lou!”

The first gig I went to

Dionne Warwick at Radio City Music Hall, New York, 1985

“I went on to play Radio City which was a really momentous day so it all kind of connected. Dionne was amazing. My mum had a big birthday this year and we were joking around because she’s of that generation that is obsessed with [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange. I don’t know if you’re familiar with women of a certain age, but they’re obsessed with justice for Julian Assange. Now you’re gonna notice it! Anyway, I wanted to get her a Cameo from him but obviously he’s not on there. You know who is? Dionne Warwick. It costs like 500 bucks. Not too bad for an incredible legend!”

The song that reminds me of home


Neil Young – ‘Sugar Mountain’

“It’s a beautiful song. The landscape that he’s describing and the lyrics (‘Though you’re thinking that you’re leaving there too soon…‘) really resonate with me. I think a lot of people that grew up in Canada when I did felt that if they wanted to have any kind of career they had to leave. It’s changed now because a lot of us broke through in indie rock but then you had megastars like Drake who took it to another level. The regionalism of it and the lack of channels for distribution was such a limitation then.”

The song I wish I’d written

Nirvana – ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’

“If you ask me this a week from now I might have a completely different answer. Anyway, when the whole band and crew arrived in Dublin [Metric played The Academy on January 28], we decided to have a full night out. We ended up in a classic Dublin pub with super loud music. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was playing and it just sounded so good. We were all talking about the first time we heard it and the impact it had. For me, it was this massive hit that called out the superficiality of the whole [music industry] arrangement. When you write observationally like [Kurt Cobain] did, it can be alienating for the listener, but this all made sense.”

The song I do at karaoke

Kylie Minogue – ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’

“I’ve only done karaoke once. If I’m playing a show, the last thing I’m gonna do is karaoke afterwards. But this was the song that I did – and I really enjoyed it. It’s right in my register and I nailed the la la las.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Daft Punk – ‘Instant Crush’ feat. Julian Casablancas

“We have it on our pre-show playlist. I’ve heard it a million times and every time it comes on I’m like ‘great!’. We’ve never met The Strokes or Daft Punk, but at the end of this tour we’re going to work at Motorbass studio in Paris where all these famous records by [French artists such as] Air and Phoenix were recorded. It’s kind of a defining moment for Metric.”

The song that I can no longer listen to

Purple Mountains – ‘Nights That Won’t Happen’

“[Purple Mountains] founder David Berman passed in 2019. I know we need to understand when people need to go from this world that they just need to go but… Even saying this I’m getting choked up. I really felt the loss of David Berman. I have this song on vinyl. I listen to the record but when it comes to this one I have to give it a pass. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with the song. It’s just too on the nose. It’s too much.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Françoise Hardy and Iggy Pop – ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’

“It’s a classic jazz standard but this version is my favourite. I love the idea in the lyrics of ‘I’ll be seeing you’. The lyrics lead you through all these memories. It’s fucking sad but as someone who’s lost a lot of people that I really love, you do get used to carrying them with you – and I’d love someone to feel the way about me [that is brought across in this song].”

The song that makes me want to dance

Jean-Benoît Dunckel – ‘Corporate Sunset’

“JB is from [French band] Air, and this is his solo song. I listen to so much instrumental music and I’m just a huge fan all around. When this song comes on I’m up and dancing.”

The song that makes me cry

SAULT – ‘Wildfires’

“This song speaks to a lot of the themes that we’re facing in North America at the moment around policing. If you listen to the lyrics, there are quite a few clear hints and references to what [singer] Cleo Sol is referring to. The way that she sings is so tender and sweet. It’s as though you can’t turn her into someone she doesn’t want to be just because of all these injustices. She’s still expressing herself in this beautiful, composed way even though you can feel all her anger and justified rage.”

Metric’s latest album ‘Formentera’ is out now

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