Discovery: Habibi


The all-female quartet Habibi says they’re “really, really overdue to put out something,” even if they’ve only been together a year. Thankfully, their 7-inch, released last February on Born Bad Records, offers crystal harmonies and pop beats that will keep us charmed until their full-length drops this winter. Influenced by grunge, punk, hip-hop, and Motown, Habibi’s sound—and band members—meet somewhere in the middle. This year, the independent ladies enchanted audiences at Cake Shop, The Knitting Factory, and at a sold-out Union Pool show before taking their singalong-worthy hits like “Tomboy” and “Sweetest Talk” to SXSW.

Currently recording, DJing, and trying to figure out what they should be for Halloween, the group met with Interview over a plate of fries to discuss other fare, being a DIY band, and how many ways “habibi” can be mispronounced.


AGES & HOMETOWNS : Rahill Jamalifard : I’m from Michigan, and I’m 27.
Erin Campbell
: I’m from New York City, and I just turned 28. I’m old.
Caroline Partamian
: I’m from the San Fernando Valley, California, which is the porn capital of the West Coast, and I’m 26 years old and a Taurus.
Karen Isabel
: I’m from Puerto Rico, but I grew up in Queens. I’m 25.


THEIR GENRE: Jamalifard: There was an amazing post on one of the Youtube [videos] that labeled us, “Neo-Classic, Post-Punk, Girl Group Psych.” [laughs]

FREE FOOD, AND LEFTOVERS: Campbell: I don’t eat junk food all the time; that’s why I’m catching up here.
: I work at a restaurant, so I just eat whatever they give me.
: One time, in Iran, my family, we were at a restaurant in Tehran, with my grandma. Nobody was hungry, but my grandma had ordered all this stuff; but in Iran, you don’t take home leftovers, nobody does. You don’t even think about it. Nobody was looking and I look over and literally she’s pushing rice and skewers of kabob into her purse and we look back and we’re like, “Grandma, no you didn’t!” [laughs]

GROUP DYNAMICS: Isabel: We all just have so many different musical tastes, when we’re playing, coming up with things, I’ll want to play Mo Tucker and Caroline will want to play grunge and Erin will want to play The Ramones, and it all comes together and works out really well.
: We all take the back seat and think, “What can I do to make the song better?” We serve the song, not try to go and show off.

SELF-SUPPORT: Jamalifard: We’re super DIY. Everything we do ourselves. She [points to Campbell] records, we do the original art, we make buttons…
: We film it.
: We pretty much ride on our own.
: We do all our own shit. We’ve always liked doing it that way. I mean, if you have the opportunity to work with someone you really respect, but how often does that opportunity come up? Not very often. And usually, you have to pay a lot of money for it.

PRONUNCIATION PROBLEMS: Campbell: Other bands, strangers, or audiences will be like, “Habooby?” “Hababy?” “Hapipi?” [all laugh]
: I’ll be like, “No. Huh-Bee-Bee.”

EARLY LOVE: Campbell: When I first started going to shows, I saw so many and I thought, “Oh my god, this is the coolest thing in the world.” When I was younger, The Craze played and I just remember being completely blown away that there was all this cool music that was accessible to me.

NO BOYS ALLOWED: Partamian: I’m definitely proud of the fact that it’s all women.
: Yeah, I’m proud.
: But it definitely makes it difficult for some situations. People don’t realize how much hate girl groups get. I worked on the Kathleen Hanna documentary and I got to read all this awesome stuff she wrote about being in a girl group and how people will always undermine you. “You’re a good drummer… for a girl.”

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS: Jamalifard: Recording. Definitely recording. We’re doing CMJ [music marathon] in October. And we have a line up of shows we’re really excited to play in the fall. We’re playing Glasslands with Vetiver September 21st, and 285 Kent in December.

HOW THEY GET IT ALL DONE: Jamalifard: We’re hustlers by nature; we get where we are because we work for it so hard.