Amber Bain, the solo artist behind The Japanese House, is so busy that she doesn’t even know her own schedule. Following a major album release and currently in the midst of international touring, she is experiencing her highest degree of popularity as a musician so far. During her U.S. tour, Bain found the time to sit down and talk to The Daily Californian about life, music and London living.
Though she was battling a cold at the time of the interview, Bain noted that nothing has thrown her off balance as an artist thus far. “I feel more confident,” Bain said about her growth over the past year. “I’ve been alive and doing things for longer, so I’m probably better at doing those things.”
Back in March, the artist released her debut record, Good at Falling, securing a top-10 position on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart within just a few weeks.
While Bain said the album is not conceptual or chronological, she did note that it served as a “landscape picture” of her life. Bain pulled inspiration for this multidimensional album’s title from a video game called “Thomas Was Alone.” She described the premise of the game as being “basically about this tiny little square having an existential crisis.”
“I guess I found it kind of sad and funny in an ironic way,” Bain said, “like, to be this oxymoronic statement — to be good at something negative.” And embracing one’s missteps seems to be the central theme in most songs by The Japanese House. Bain recalled a remark from one of her friends earlier that week who said her music sounded like a modern analogue of ABBA. “That’s the nicest thing someone’s ever said to me,” Bain reflected.
On her own, Bain listens to a wide variety of music — from the Beach Boys to Beach House. While she usually adopts whatever her friends are tuning in to, she often finds that some of her favorite artists are bands her friends are involved in. She noted MUNA as one of her treasures at the moment.
“I listen to a lot of good pop music,” Bain said. “I don’t want to name-drop anyone bad, but there’s so many.”
Bain started her musical career at an impressively young age, writing her first song when most people are still learning how to write. She didn’t start producing and recording until age 12 but began posting her music online just a few years later.
“When I was, like, 8, I wrote a song called ‘Teenage Life’ about just having teenage angst — even though I was only 8 years old,” Bain said. “I sometimes listen to those songs and I think they’re actually pretty good for a 12-year-old, or an 8-year-old.”
Bain continued: “There’s, like, rawness in them that I do not have anymore cause I’m thinking, ‘Oh, people are going to hear this.’ It’s just completely innocent and honest.”
Bain always knew she wanted to work in the music industry. And stars seem to have aligned for the 23-year-old, who just finished up touring across the United States in support of Good at Falling. Bain highlighted San Francisco as her “favorite place to play, ever.”
“It’s so different,” Bain said. “San Francisco is the only place ever where I’ve been like, ‘Well, OK, it’s going to pop off tonight,’ whereas sometimes you just don’t know.”
This summer, The Japanese House will be hitting up festival season all across Europe, Japan, Mexico and more. Bain is looking forward to the artist perks to come in the next few months, saying that camping is not her preferred method of festival living.
“I don’t like being cold or wet, so it’s, like, the perfect solution to a festival for me,” Bain said. “I can literally go in, get my stuff, drink some alcohol, watch some bands, play a show and then leave.”
Bain will be spending a majority of the summer in England this year, but the artist found a particular liking for Los Angeles on this past tour, which she called her favorite tour so far. While she currently lives in London, she’s ready for a change of pace — and air quality.
“There’s no point in me stopping smoking because I basically smoke by default by living in London,” Bain said of her current residence. The singer hopes to move to Los Angeles sooner rather than later, saying: “There’s more space, and it feels like a neighborhood. I’m definitely ready for a bit of that vibe — whether I’ll find that in LA or somewhere else, I don’t know.”
But for now, Bain has once again been beckoned by London, where she’s now finishing up a rather hush-hush EP with The 1975’s Matty Healy. As she said, “I’ve got dogs, so I kind of have to go home.”