Following on from the release of a new album, 3 intimate Rough Trade gigs and the beginnings of a tour, The Japanese House, otherwise known as Amber Bain, kindly took the time out of her busy schedule to sit down and talk to me about all things sad indie pop.
‘Good at Falling’- What inspired you with this album?
The album name is from a video game called ‘Thomas Was Alone’ and its basically this square called Thomas, having an existential crisis. There was a part in the game where the narrator said “But Thomas was extremely good at falling”. And then I heard that and it stuck a chord because I think it’s a really sweet sentiment to be good at something quite negative.
What’s your creative process like, where do you seek inspiration from, talk us through it?
I think mainly from people and my relationship with people. But also my relationship with myself.
Do you think this has changed since you first started the project of The Japanese House?
No, it’s pretty much stayed the same. I don’t really have the choice of what inspires me. I can’t just sit down and listen to an album or read a book. It doesn’t really work like that for me. I just have to wait for something to hit me.
You’ve previously said that you find it quite hard to finish things, which I think we can all related to. What gave you the motivation to finish this album then, what was different from the other times?
I’m always changing things until the last minute and I would probably keep changing things after I had sent them off. There just comes a point in which you’re changing things but it’s not getting better it’s just getting different. So, I just have to stop myself and a lot of the time it’s relying on people I work with to be like “No you need to stop, everything sounds good”. It’s always been really difficult for me to finish stuff just because I think I’m a control freak about certain things.
Favourite song on the album and why ?
“Follow My Girl” or “f a r a w a y” are my favourites on the new album. “f a r a w a y” because it’s like a 70’s psych song. It kind of sounds like ELO and I really like the chord progressions. With “Follow My Girl”, I just really like the melodies and the general sound of it ‘.
Who was “Maybe You’re The Reason” written about?
It’s mainly about myself, just me having an existential crisis and the chorus is just me trying to sarcastically spin it round and make it into a love song. So I guess it was about my girlfriend at the time…but mainly it’s just me.
Why The Japanese House and not Amber Bain?
I just didn’t really want to use my own name, I just think it’s kind of boring to use my own name. And I don’t really like my name and I think The Japanese House sounds far more interesting and intriguing. I was kind of going for something that sounded different.
What artists in the music industry would you say have most inspired your sound?
I’m not sure. I try to purposefully not be inspired because I don’t want to sound like anyone. So hopefully none of them. That question is too difficult, I just can’t choose one. It’s like saying “”What’s your favourite film?”. I think maybe Fleetwood Mac, ELO and also my friend’s music, but yeah I don’t really know who mainly inspires my sound.
For readers that may not have listened to you, how would you describe your sound ?
I guess like alternative pop, electronic guitar music with lots of harmonies that’s sad.
What kind of audience do you think your music attracts then, at the Rough Trade gig there were people of all ages. Did you always believe you’d have such a wide reception?
For me it’s mainly young people that I see at my shows but occasionally I’ll look into the crowd and see a few older people. But mainly its young people, young gay people, which is really nice. I never even imagined having an audience when I was younger. It’s really humbling having been able to connect with people of an age group that I didn’t necessarily expect to.
If you hadn’t found music, what do you think you would be doing right now?
I always wanted to be a vet when I was younger (Amber then preceded to ask me about what I wanted to do but we won’t go into those boring details here).
Speaking to Amber was such a great experience. She was so humble and kind and has a clear love for what she does and for her music, which has definitely showed through the album she has perfected and worked hard on.