UO MUSIC: THE JAPANESE HOUSEJuly 11, 2017
As part of our Pride celebrations, we hosted a special gig with minimal electro-indie project The Japanese House at our Marble Arch store, in collaboration with Instax. We caught up with Amber Bain during soundcheck to talk about her upcoming album, her proudest moments and Kate Winslet’s house…
Where did the name The Japanese House come from – we read that it was Kate Winslet’s house!
Yeah, it was Kate Winslet’s house and she was renting it out online. I pretended to be a boy for the week that I was staying there and this girl developed a crush on me. At the end of the week I told her I was a girl and she cried. I was remembering that story and then remembered the name of the house.
Why did you want to use a project name rather than your own name?
I don’t know! The same reason anyone does really, like I don’t really like my name, and then I just didn’t want to assign my identity to one whole project.
Were you always interested in music?
Yeah, it’s never really been my plan. I’ve always done it and I’ve just ended up here right now. It’s something that I’d always loved to have done, but I had no idea. It’s not that I didn’t try that hard, but it just sort of happened.
What’s your writing process like?
It changes, so sometimes I’ll write a song on the guitar and then build the production around that, and then sometimes I’ll have an idea on my laptop and I’ll build the song around the sounds that I’ve made. So it differs between those two. I prefer it when I write songs on the guitar and then produce them.
You’ve got loads of festival coming up! Do you prefer playing gigs or festivals?
I don’t know! I think I prefer playing headline shows because you have an idea of whose going to be there, but at festivals it can sometimes be really nicely surprising and you can generate a big audience. Maybe festivals, well, it depends on the festival.
You’ve released quite a few EPs – have you got any album plans or future releases in the pipeline?
My album is probably going to be released early next year!
How’s the recording going?
I’m in the process of doing it! It’s all done on my laptop and I finish it off at the end and mix it. I’m stilling writing parts of it as well, so I don’t fully know what it’ll sound like.
Can you tell us a bit about your new EP?
It’s called “Saw You In A Dream” and it’s quite a long EP; the last song is 9 minutes long, which is called “Count To Nine” and it sounds like a weird Disney soundtrack. The single “Saw You In A Dream” is probably my favourite song I’ve written to date. It’s quite simple lyrically and chordally. I probably sound quite braggy but I accidentally managed to do something that’s quite simple and succinct but also talking about something quite complex. The chords do weird things; it’s not too jarring. There’s a song called “3 Out Of 3”, which is another one of my favourite songs, and another, it was called “I Hate Myself” for ages as a joke, but then I changed it to “Somebody Found”.
What have your highlights been so far?
When I played Reading last year it was quite shocking because it was such a big crowd and I really didn’t think I’d have anyone there. That’s probably my main one.
Reading’s a big deal!
I was in the dance tent and I was really early and thought no one was going to come! There definitely are other things, like the amazing venues I get to play.
You’ve been all around the world haven’t you? Any weird tour stores?
Yeah. Collectively playing in all those weird places has been great. There are loads of places in America where there’s no dressing rooms or anything. In America some fans can be quite intense… you can be sitting next to them and they just look at you and start crying. A few times there’s nowhere to go, but I guess that’s weird when it first happens to you. Like, why are they crying at me?
How are you involved in the creation of your EP and single covers? You have a very distinct aesthetic.
I just go out and take photos for each EP. “Face Like Thunder” was in Morocco; “Pools To Bathe In” was in Iceland and another in America. The “Saw You In A Dream” one was in America, Chicago. I kind of just accidentally just started taking photos for it and it became a thing. I’m not really a photographer or anything. I really enjoy influencing people’s first impression of a song with imagery because I think it’s very interesting how it can shape what you think about a song.
Definitely – cover art is a big thing! How did you get involved with this performance for UO Pride?
I got asked and said yes! I did an Urban Outfitters gig at SXSW before.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’ve got quite a few festivals and then I think I’m touring at the end of the year. I’m not too sure where yet, we haven’t planned it exactly but I think it might be USA!