What do you get when you combine the synths of The 1975, the lyricism of Bon Iver and the voice of Imogen Heap? The Japanese House.
Amber Bain, the mysterious, 21-year-old woman behind the equally as mystery stage name (inspired by her fascination with a property in Cornwall, England where she visited as a child that was reminiscent of Japanese tea houses), has been making waves over the last year for her ethereal, other worldly music that gained the attention of George Daniel of the 1975, who partnered with Bain to produce her music. If you hear familiarities in their sounds, that’s pretty much why. Bain signed with Dirty Hit Records in late 2015.
I got tickets to see The Japanese House this past February (an extremely overdue review on my end, but very much deserved) at the Bottom Lounge. Counting down the days to the show, I was curious to see whether or not Bain and her ambiguous project name would be able to sell out the 700 capacity venue (she did).
I’m going to keep this review short and sweet because unlike all of the other reviews I have posted so far, I ended up being late to this set and saw about half of it (maybe 35 ish minutes). Disappointed in myself and my poor judgment at guessing her performance time, I still enjoyed the songs I got to hear during the set and will definitely make it a priority to see her performance Lollapalooza in just a few months time.
Some highlights of the shortened set I got to see was Bain’s performance of Leon (one of my favorite songs of hers – later to be found out that it’s about her obsession with the 1994 film Léon: The Professional starring Natalie Portman) and her closing performance of her most popular track to date: Still (currently on track to hit 10 million streams on Spotify).
Despite the infamous synth that is evident throughout The Japanese House’ music, Bain’s voice was proven strong as she was able to hold her pitches throughout the heavily produced tracks.
While The Japanese House has catchy melodies and an interesting sound unique enough to intrigue listeners, being able to capture an entire audience’s attention for a full set seems to be something that Bain and her bandmates will continue to work on: every released song on the internet right now by The Japanese House is slow. Lots of other successful musicians have built and maintained superstardom this way, but it’s important to develop a performance style that will capture an audience member’s attention from start to end.
With that being said, it’s easy for me to make this excuse as to me being “bored” because I was a little upset with myself for missing half the performance and it continued to distract me throughout her set. Regardless, I will continue to follow the mysticism that is The Japanese House and encourage you to check her stuff out if you haven’t already.