The Japanese House’s Amber Bain On Dating Musicians And Her Forthcoming EP

The Japanese House’s Amber Bain On Dating Musicians And Her Forthcoming EP

The singer opens up before her final EP, Saw You In A Dream, drops this Friday, June 30.

The singer opens up before her final EP, Saw You In A Dream, drops this Friday, June 30.

Text: Ilana Kaplan

It’s not uncommon for musicians to pull inspiration from their childhood, but The Japanese House’s Amber Bain has a one of a kind story that helped to inspire her project. The 21-year-old electro-pop phenom is signed to Dirty Hit -- the same label that reps The 1975 and Marika Hackman -- so she caught the attention of The 1975 fans when she put out her first EP 2015’s Pools To Bathe In. As of this month, Bain will have released four EPs: her final one, Saw You In A Dream, being the last before her debut album surfaces next year.

An amalgamation of The xx and Wet, Bain’s melancholic melodies reveal she’s making pop music that’s truly her own. Before her next EP drops this Friday, we caught up with Bain about sexuality, dating musicians, and what the new record is all about.

What’s the origin story behind The Japanese House?

I was away with my parents when I was younger and we were staying at this place called “The Japanese House.” I was thinking about the weird situations I’d been in to come up with a pseudonym. I remember that when I was six I pretended to be a boy for a week. This girl believed me, developed a crush on me and I broke her heart. I was talking to my mom about it, and she reminded me of [The Japanese House].

Why did you have such a mysterious persona at first?

I didn't really plan on it at all -- I think it happened that way. I didn’t have any photos. I was terrified of having my photo taken, so I tried to postpone it as long as possible. I hadn’t played live as The Japanese House before, so no one knew who I was. A lot of people have been saying to me that I’ve been blurring the lines between gender saying I’m not androgynous, which is weird because I’ve never claimed to be androgynous. I do identify as a girl, not that I think there’s anything wrong with being androgynous, but I do feel like people have to go through a lot of shit.

Has your music empowered others with regards to sexuality?

I didn’t realize in my music I used female pronouns, but there isn’t a lot of music done like that in an obvious way. If you want to write about a girl, it should be an easy thing to do. I think it gave people courage to come out to their parents.

Tell me about your forthcoming EP Saw You In A Dream.

It’s quite a long EP because one of the songs is nine minutes long. I think it’s my favorite EP I’ve ever done -- it’s the last one before the album release. It’s going to be finished before the end of the year, but I don’t think it will be out before the end of the year.

What themes can we see shine through the EP?

There’s not really a running theme except for relationships and specific relationships between people. This EP is a lot more blatant in lyrical content than I’ve ever done before. There’s another song about being in a relationship with another musician, both being on tour and being busy -- how that’s a strange and interesting situation to be in. There’s a line that’s like “You can go and write something about it/I’m sure I’ll like it/I like what you write about me.” When you’re in a relationship with someone who’s also a musician, anything that’s an argument or anything that happens, you’re putting yourself in a situation where you can be written about. It’s funny because I’m writing a song about writing a song about them writing a song about me. [This EP] is about loss and coming to terms with new relationships.

What were you listening to when you made this EP?

I was listening to a lot of ELO and Fleetwood Mac -- a mixture of old stuff. I was listening to Frank Ocean’s [Blonde] and the new Bon Iver record. Each song on the EP is quite different. The last song on the EP sounds like some weird Disney track -- it has a really long outro. “Saw You In A Dream” is quite classic-sounding. “Somebody Found” is influenced by Fleetwood Mac -- especially the drumming. Then there’s another track that’s called “Straight Out of Three,” which has a hip-hop beat, but I wouldn’t say it’s hip-hop. I’ve been listening to a lot of Justin Bieber lately. It’s a weird mixture of music because I’ve written the music over a year.

Which artists do you look up to now?

That’s a hard question. I look up to lots of different artists. Obviously Beyoncé, but also Tame Impala.

Was there a moment in time that first inspired you to start making music?

I think I’ve always wanted to make music. Actually, when I was five or six, my teacher let me take the lead in the Christmas play. It was about a mouse who ruined Christmas. His name was Barney, and I got to be Barney. I realized I liked this kind of thing.

Credits: Photo Courtesy of Universal music group

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