Emily Haines

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Emily Haines
Haines performing at Ottawa Bluesfest in 2010
Haines performing at Ottawa Bluesfest in 2010
Background information
Birth nameEmily Savitri Haines
Born (1974-01-25) 25 January 1974 (age 47)
New Delhi, India
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
  • piano
  • guitar
  • tambourine
  • harmonica
Years active1990–present
LabelsLast Gang
Associated acts

Emily Savitri Haines (born 25 January 1974) is a Canadian singer and songwriter. She is the lead singer, keyboardist and songwriter of the rock band Metric and a member of Broken Social Scene. As a solo artist, she has performed under her own name and under the moniker Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. Haines has a soprano voice, but generally sings in lower ranges.[1][2][3]

Early life[edit]

Born in New Delhi, India,[4] and raised in Fenelon Falls, Ontario, Haines grew up as a dual citizen of Canada and the United States, the latter related to her American-born parents.[5] She is the daughter of Canadian poet Paul Haines. Haines's mother started a school in India.[6] Her sister is the Canadian television journalist Avery Haines and her brother is Tim Haines, owner of Bluestreak Records in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.[4]

After settling in Fenelon Falls, Ontario at the age of three, she grew up in a house rich with experimental art and musical expression. Paul would often make cassettes of rare and eclectic music for his daughter to listen to and her early influences included Carla Bley, Robert Wyatt, and later PJ Harvey. By her teens, she followed in her parents' footsteps by attending the Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA) to study drama. There she met Amy Millan and Kevin Drew, with whom she would later collaborate in Broken Social Scene (co-founded by Drew), a musical collective. During their time at ESA, Haines and Millan formed their first band together (around 1990), and she also briefly dated Drew.[7]

Haines attended the University of British Columbia in Vancouver between 1992 and 1993, and Concordia University in Montreal between 1995 and 1996. In 1996, she distributed a limited-edition album entitled Cut in Half and Also Double that included songs written and recorded during her student years.[8]

Haines's middle name is Savitri. She is named after Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, an epic poem by Sri Aurobindo.[6]

Professional music[edit]

Haines in 2006

Haines met James Shaw in Toronto in 1997. Initially, the duo's name was "Mainstream".[9] After releasing an EP entitled Mainstream EP, they changed the band's name to "Metric", after a sound that was programmed by Shaw on his keyboard in 1997 or 1998.[9] Joshua Winstead and Joules Scott-Key joined the band in 2001.[10]

As of September 2018, Metric has released seven studio albums: Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (2003), Live It Out (2005), Grow Up and Blow Away (2007, but recorded in 2001), Fantasies (2009), Synthetica (2012), Pagans in Vegas (2015), and Art of Doubt (2018).

During her time in Metric, Haines also contributed vocals or backing vocals to songs by Broken Social Scene, Jason Collett, Stars, Delerium, K-Os, KC Accidental, The Stills, Tiësto, The Crystal Method and Todor Kobakov.[citation needed]

In 2004, Metric appeared in the 2004 drama film Clean. Haines and the rest of the band, appearing as themselves, performed their song "Dead Disco" and completed minor speaking roles in a backstage scene. "Dead Disco" also featured on Clean Original Soundtrack.[citation needed]

In 2006, Haines released the studio album Knives Don't Have Your Back, under the moniker "Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton". The songs "Our Hell" and "Doctor Blind" were issued as singles and corresponding music videos were produced. Knives Don't Have Your Back was followed in 2007 by the EP What Is Free to a Good Home?—recordings that were inspired by the death of her father.[11]

I found myself with a body of work that was dealing with a whole whack of themes that really weren't suited to Metric. It would've been very strange to bring those songs to a band. The way Metric songs usually develop is that I write something on the piano that sounds a lot like those songs.[11]

Haines at the 2011 Ottawa Bluesfest

Her solo work is typically more subdued and piano-based than her work with Metric. She occasionally plays solo shows, with Amy Millan featured as the opening act.[citation needed]

According to Haines, the album Synthetica is "about forcing yourself to confront what you see in the mirror when you finally stand still long enough to catch a reflection. Synthetica is about being able to identify the original in a long line of reproductions. It's about what is real vs what is artificial."[12] The album contains the song "The Wanderlust", Haines's collaboration with Lou Reed.[13]

In an August 2013 interview, Haines reflected on the early years of her musical career in relation to the success of Metric in 2013:

There are a million things that I could have done that would have made it less difficult in the beginning, but the moments I'm most proud of are those first shows where we managed to get 15 people in a random bar to be committed to what's happening with the music. I know it's hard for people to imagine that would be the hardest shows we've ever played. I've played with Lou [Reed], I've played to tens of thousands of people, I've played for the Queen, but nothing is harder than those moments when you have the conviction to play in front of those 15 people and own it.[14]

Haines has explained that she is a "big leaver" when she encounters difficulty with the creative process, or is lacking inspiration. Prior to the fourth Metric album Fantasies, Haines traveled to Argentina. Haines further explains: "The advice that I would give anyone is just get over yourself and forget yourself. Realize what you don't know ... Don't be so precious about yourself."[15]

Emily Haines became good friends with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson before Reed's death.[16] When Lou Reed and Emily met, he asked if she would rather be The Beatles or The Rolling Stones and she shot back "Velvet Underground."[16]

Haines performed with Broken Social Scene on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert 30 March 2017.[17]

Haines contributed to Broken Social Scene's album Hug of Thunder, released summer 2017. It is their first new album in seven years.[18] In May 2017, Haines was with Broken Social Scene in Manchester, England, the night after the terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert. Haines attributes her ability to carry on and play after the attack to the support of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr.[19]

Haines released the second studio album as Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, titled Choir of the Mind on 15 September 2017. The album's lead single "Fatal Gift" was released on 9 June 2017.[20] The album was released by Last Gang Records/eOne.[21] This was her first solo release in over a decade.[22] Choir of the Mind was recorded during September and October 2016 in Toronto.[6] A tour supporting Choir of the Mind took place throughout North America in late 2017.[23]


When performing live with her band Metric, Haines sings and plays two synthesizers. Her primary synthesizer is a Sequential Circuits Pro-One, which she has played since the band's early years.[24] As secondary synthesizer, she played a Kawai MP9000 in Metric's early years,[25] which was replaced by E-mu PK-6 Proteus Keys from 2003 to 2011, and followed by Clavia Nord Wave since 2012.

During some Metric live songs, Haines also plays a tambourine or an electric guitar.[26] During Metric acoustic appearances, Haines sings and sometimes plays piano or harmonica, while her bandmate James Shaw plays the acoustic guitar.

Haines sang and played a piano when she performed live with a backing band as Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton.[27]

Other projects[edit]

As of late August 2013, Haines is involved with FLEET4HEARme, a collaboration between herself, Fleet Jewelry, and HearMe—the latter is an organization that aims to increase children's access to music programs in public schools. In support of the project, Haines explained: "I feel like anybody who wants to play an instrument should be able to."[28] September 2015, Rudsak unveiled a leather jacket customized by Emily Haines.[29] The jacket is a classic black motor-cycle style with lyrics from "The Governess" on the back.

Metric is active with Global Citizen, which aims to tackle the world's most challenging issues via social change, and Haines is also involved with its girls and women issues campaign #SheDecides.

Haines partnered with "House of Matriarch High Perfumery" to create a fragrance called "Siren".[30]


Haines at Coachella 2008

Emily Haines[edit]


Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton[edit]




  • "Doctor Blind"
  • "Our Hell"
  • "Fatal Gift"
  • "Statuette"

Music videos

  • "Doctor Blind"
  • "Our Hell"
  • "Fatal Gift"
  • "Planets"
  • "Statuette"
  • "Legend of the Wild Horse"




The following songs are credited with Emily Haines on either lead or backing vocals:

Artist Song Album and Year
Broken Social Scene "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" You Forgot It in People (2002)
"Looks Just Like the Sun"
"Backyards" Bee Hives (2004)
"Windsurfing Nation" Broken Social Scene (2005)
"Her Disappearing Theme" To Be You and Me EP (2005)
"Sentimental X's" Forgiveness Rock Record (2010)
"Protest Song" Hug of Thunder (2017)
"Vanity Pail Kids"
Delerium "Stopwatch Hearts" Rarities & B-Sides (2015)
"Glimmer" Rarities & B-Sides (2015)
Jason Collett "Hangover Days" Idols of Exile (2005)
k-os "Uptown Girl" Yes! (2009)
KC Accidental "Them (Pop Song No. 3333)" Anthems for the Could've Bin Pills (2000)
Stars "Going, Going, Gone" Nightsongs (2001)
"On Peak Hill"
The Stills "Baby Blues" Without Feathers (2006)
Tiësto "Knock You Out" Kaleidoscope (2009)
The Crystal Method "Come Back Clean" Divided by Night (2009)
Todor Kobakov "Carpe Diem" Pop Music (2009)
Young Artists for Haiti "Wavin' Flag"
GoldieBlox "Lightning Strikes"


Guest appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Colville, Liz (26 September 2006). "Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – Review". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Metric – "Breathing Underwater" Review". Nylon Mag. 15 June 2012. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  3. ^ Arnold, Ryan (2 November 2009). "Metric's latest acoustic EP 'Plug In, Plug Out' softens its usually energetic sound". Collegiate Times. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b Shea, C. (21 November 2012). "Emily Haines: Metric Lead Singer". The Grid. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Taking Measurements: An Interview with Metric – PopMatters". I have an identity crisis which is not resolved because I'm a dual citizen. My whole family is American, and I was born in India but I was raised in Fenelon Falls Canada. But all my extended family is American, I've held an American passport and I've spent my whole adult life in between New York and LA. So I feel like an American… and I also feel like a Canadian! I wish more people were dual citizens and then I wouldn't feel like such a freak.
  6. ^ a b c "Home". Emily Haines. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  7. ^ Berman, Stuart. This Book Is Broken. 2009
  8. ^ Mullin, Kyle (7 November 2012), "Sisters of music: Metric's Emily Haines' lifelong friendship with Stars' Amy Millan", Monday Magazine, archived from the original on 18 January 2019, retrieved 18 January 2019
  9. ^ a b "Why They're Called... Metric – SPIN – Profiles – Spotlight". Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  10. ^ "Metric – Music Biography, Credits and Discography : AllMusic". Retrieved 25 April 2013.
  11. ^ a b Carew, Anthony (6 April 2009). "Interview: Emily Haines of Metric". About.com. Archived from the original on 14 May 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Metric Offer Peek into Creative Process Behind 'Synthetica'". SPIN Magazine. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  13. ^ "Metric On Recording Lou Reed Duet 'The Wanderlust'". HuffPost Canada. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Metric's Emily Haines Makes Style Poetic". refinery29. August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Metric's Emily Haines Makes Style Poetic". refinery29. August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  16. ^ a b "Metric's Emily Haines on Lou Reed's Integrity and Humor". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Broken Social Scene Return With "Halfway Home," First New Song in 7 Years: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  18. ^ "Broken Social Scene share first album in seven years, Hug of Thunder: Stream". Consequence of Sound. 3 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  19. ^ "Emily Haines Explains How Johnny Marr Helped Her Through Broken Social Scene's Post-Attack Manchester Gig". exclaim.ca. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Emily Haines (Metric, Broken Social Scene) Announces First New Album in 11 Years". Pitchfork. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Metric's Emily Haines Details New Solo Album 'Choir of the Mind'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Home". Emily Haines. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  23. ^ "Home". Emily Haines. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Sequential Circuits Pro-One Is Always Onstage With Emily Haines of Metric – YouTube". Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  25. ^ "Metric – Interview in an east village bar (NY) 2001 – YouTube". Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  26. ^ "Review: Canadian indie band Metric rocks the Fillmore Miami Beach". miami.com.
  27. ^ "Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – Live Review on The Red Alert".
  28. ^ "Metric's Emily Haines Makes Style Poetic". refinery29. August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  29. ^ "Metric's Emily Haines teams with Montreal brand Rudsak on design collaboration". Toronto Sun. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  30. ^ Perfumery, House of Matriarch - SEATTLE, WA - Natural, Organic, Vegan, Artisan & Niche High. "Siren - Emily Haines - 15ml with Collector's Presentation & Autographed Sleeve - Limited Edition - House of Matriarch - SEATTLE, WA - Natural, Organic, Vegan, Artisan & Niche High Perfumery". www.matriarch.biz. Retrieved 13 February 2018.

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]