“I’m obsessed with it all” – an interview with The Japanese House

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We’ve been talking about indie act The Japanese House a lot lately – from anticipating her debut album to featuring her on our List of 2019 – and it’s starting to look like this is going to be her year. On the morning of her set in Köln, Germany, we had the pleasure of talking to Amber Bain over the phone about her experiences touring, creating and anticipating ‘Good At Falling’. Here’s how it went:

How did you find the process of creating an album compared to creating an EP? 

“For me, because I care about each song individually so much, I don’t really understand how it would be any different you know? In terms of mentally, just because it’s only one song (for example) doesn’t mean it’s less meaningful. But I guess the main difference is that I’ve spent a lot more time immersed in it rather than regularly coming back to my life. I guess that’s the main difference: that it’s more immersive. Emotionally and mentally I feel the same about releasing any kind of music. I’m obsessed with it all.”

I read that part of your recording process took place in Bon Iver’s cabin, how was that?

“I think when people hear ‘Bon Iver’s cabin’ they literally imagine some little cabin in the middle of the woods. It’s like a nice a studio – a very nice studio. It was very cool for me obviously to be there. It kind of felt surreal. You get used to everything so obviously by the end I was like…used to it. But I was kind of starstruck I guess. I didn’t even meet him but I was playing in Justin Vernon’s cabin – just me and the producer and the DJ – it was an intense experience.” 

With your lyrics you tend to be quite blunt and you also sometimes name names (Katie in ‘Went to Meer Her’ and Gemma in ‘Lilo’). It’s all very truthful. Is that something that you aim to do and is it quite freeing to write bluntly like that?

“Yes, it is quite freeing I guess. With names, I’ve only ever done that twice I think, and when you say a name in a song it kind of instantly, for me, contextualises it very specifically. I can remember exactly how I felt at that time because I’m talking about a very specific thing that happened. But yeah the lyrics are quite blatant and blunt in comparison to the EPs I guess. Yeah it is quite freeing.” 

So would you say the album was quite an introspective project then?

“Yes definitely. It’s written by me about me. But at the same time I do think I make comments on the outside world. I feel like I reflect on the world and I make comments about those reflections rather than just looking at it. In ‘Maybe You’re The Reason’ for example there’s a lot of commentary on there that isn’t necessarily about me…when I’m talking about myself in the verses I sometimes feel like I’m just a metaphor for all of us, if that makes any sense.” 

Definitely, so it’s kind of inward but also outward looking at the same time?

“Yeah, that’s how I view it anyway.” 

You’ve done a lot of touring, do you have a favourite ever tour moment?

“There’s been a lot of good tour moments, it’s hard to whittle it down to one. On this tour I had a really good day whilst we were in America. We found this lake in the middle of nowhere and had this picnic but we didn’t realise it was going to take three hours to get there. It felt like a real adventure. I sometimes have days like today when I just don’t want to leave the hotel but then I have days like that. My favourite part of touring at the moment is genuinely just playing the shows which it definitely didn’t used to be. I used to fucking hate playing shows and now I really love it.” 

So did that just change with time or confidence? 

“I think it just came with losing pretty much everything else in my life that I cared about or that I had to go home for, you know like my relationship. I don’t know, I’m being such a drama queen right now but sometimes I feel like I don’t really have anything else apart from my dad and my dog. And music.”

(Amber’s dog is called Calvin, by the way, and he’s a German Shepherd. She told us “he’s amazing”)

So how are you feeling about the release of the album? 

“Yeah, I’m feeling good I guess. I don’t know, it’s like a mixture of feelings but I’m very excited. I don’t really feel scared or anything. I kind of just want it to happen, I’ve been sitting on it for so long now that I just want to release it. I’m really excited though.”

And so are we. This is a debut we’ve been waiting some time for – and if you’re looking for music that is truthful, reflective and just cool, you won’t want to miss it either.

The Japanese House’s debut album Good At Falling is available from March 1st via Dirty Hit Records. 

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