Featured Artist: The Japanese House

An air of mystery only adds to the appeal of new musical artists with limited public presence. The Japanese House was shrouded in secrecy at the beginning of her career in 2015, though it was completely unintentional. She simply wasn’t a fan of having her picture taken, but this didn’t stop eager fans from filling in the gaps. She was rumored to be a secret project in the works by Matt Healy from The 1975, with her enigmatic cover art and indecipherable voice. 

The mystery has been solved since; a name can now be associated with the solo artist: Amber Bain. Bain is a native of Buckinghamshire, England with four EPs and a new album under her belt. At only 23-years-old (at the time), she debuted her first album in March of this year, Good at Falling

 

 

All 13 songs of the album were written exclusively by her. Good at Falling’s title can be attributed to Bain’s perpetual state of falling in and out of love with others. She is relentlessly honest in a way that you don’t see too often – about herself, her struggles, her relationships – she doesn’t put on a front or filter some of her darker thoughts. The album engages in themes of loneliness, breakups, and drunken actions that can’t be taken back. 

“My girlfriend would be sleeping on the sofa. I’d be like, ‘I’m so alone’. It’s just a reminder that you think you’re in these partnerships that really mean something,” Bain earnestly states about the song “Everybody Hates Me” in an interview with The Independent. “When someone’s asleep, it’s just a massive reminder of that, that you’re totally alone… It makes me feel sick. I hate the idea that we’re all alone, but I really think we are.”

 

 

The track “Lilo” was written over the span of Bain’s four-year relationship with fellow musician, Marika Hackman. She began writing the song after their first date, and she finished it when they were breaking up. The song opens up with Bain singing, “I needed someone to depend upon // I was alone, I was emotional,” showcasing a relatable feeling of just wanting someone to experience your days with.

A lilo is essentially an air mattress that can be used for floating atop water. In the song’s chorus, the lyrics say, “You were floating like a lilo // With your eyes closed, going where the tide goes,” illustrating that Hackman was a free spirited, ‘go with the flow’ type person, which can certainly be intriguing in a new relationship – a person who is seemingly uninhibited by metaphorical restraints. 

Wanting to keep true to the meaning of the song, Bain shot the music video for “Lilo” with Hackman in a starring role. This was after their breakup, causing an intense experience for Bain when she had to shoot intimate scenes with her ex. This included a shower sequence with the two kissing each other. While this would be an impossible task for many, Bain is a dedicated artist and mature enough to handle it for the sake of authenticity. “Lilo” is a song about her relationship coming to an end, but she still kept the lyrics free from any malice. “I think it would be difficult for me to write a mean breakup song,” she said in an interview with NME

 

 

The song “Maybe You’re the Reason” stemmed from Bain going through an existential crisis. She questions the meaning of life, nihilism, and apathy throughout the track. While the song’s meaning contains depressing subjects, Bain thought it would be interesting to transform it into a ballad of love by the chorus. The repeated lyric is, “Maybe you’re the reason,” implying that her former lover is the answer to why she exists.  

“For me, that song has really changed in terms of what it means to me now, because obviously, my relationship ended, and I had to learn to make myself the reason that I exist,” she said to NME

The music video for “Maybe You’re the Reason” contains strong imagery of learning to love herself. Bain has a double throughout the video that she’s distant from, looking at her through a mirror or facing away from her while lying on a bed. By the end of the video, the two are embracing, signifying Bain’s true acceptance in herself.

 

 

The Japanese House will be performing with us in Santa Barbara at Soho Music Club on October 15 (Tickets) and in Las Vegas at The Bunkhouse Saloon on October 17 (Tickets).

- Written by Mallika Pal