It’s a been whirlwind few years for Amber Bain, aka The Japanese House. When we spoke to her last summer, she was readying her bombastic single ‘Face Like Thunder’ and getting ready to head out on her own tour – oh, and support label mates The 1975 on their gigantic UK arena tour.
With those shows under her belt, Bain retreated to the studio to work on new music while playing a handful of US shows to test some new material. The result is ‘Saw You In A Dream’, which on the surface is a laid-back slice of dreamy-pop, but packs an powerful emotional punch. Further proof that Bain’s rise to the top appears imminent.
We spoke to Bain to discuss the stunning new single, her upcoming tour and what to expect from the new EP.
When did you write ‘Saw You In A Dream’?
“I wrote a verse and a chorus for it about a year ago. Usually I write a verse or a chorus and then I just kind of force myself to finish it and sometimes it feels quite forced. But with this song I just waited until I felt I was in the right frame of mind to finish writing. And it worked, I’m more excited about this single than anything I’ve done before.”
What’s the song about?
“It’s about someone I was really close with when I was younger. But a couple of years ago they died. A bit after that I saw them in this dream and it was quite a weird situation, because I’d never experienced something like that before. So with this event I just sat down and was like, ‘right, I’m gonna write a song about this’. I think that’s why it’s one of my favourite songs that I’ve done just because it’s quite blatant. Even if you didn’t know the context for it, it would still make sense because it’s still a love song – a heart-break song.”
Despite the meaning behind the song, musically it’s quite upbeat. Was that intentional?
“Yeah the chorus is definitely upbeat – when I first wrote the chorus it actually sounded like Keane! I love Keane but I was like ‘this sounds like something Keane would write’. I wrote it on a guitar and was in the mindset of ‘I just really wanna write a song that doesn’t rely on fancy production’.”
What’s the new EP shaping up to sound like?
“There’s going to be three new songs for the EP. There’s a mixture of stuff on there. I think that there’s definitely more guitars on this EP than I have before, as I really got back into playing guitar. There’s one song where I got really obsessed with the mellotron and it has a really long outro with Disney strings sounds and weird choir sounds, which is cool. George [Daniel, 1975 drummer] came into the studio and to play some drums on on this single.”
It feels quite different to previous material – did you approach writing it in a new way?
“I think it’s because I’ve been touring and playing lots of guitar, so I’ve been getting back into writing on guitar which is nice because I haven’t done that for ages. I think two of the songs I wrote solely on guitar and the rest I just did on my laptop.”
You’ve been touring pretty much non stop for the last few years, has that affected the way you write songs?
“I think it does subconsciously. There will be parts of me that are thinking ‘I wonder if this will be fun to play live?’ or ‘I wonder how this will come across?’ but I’d never let worrying about playing live stop anything in recording because I think that’s the whole point of doing a record first.”
What can people expect from your live show? You’ve been playing some arenas on big support slots…
“I’ve actually got two new members and it sounds a lot bigger and a lot more live. I mean it will be a long time before I get to play the O2, if ever but it’s important when you’re thinking about that – it should sound as good in a bigger venue as it does in a club.”
See The Japanese House on tour:
Academy 2, Oxford (May 9)
Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh (10)
Gorilla, Manchester (11)
Academy 2, Leicester (12)
O2 Institute 3, Birmingham (13)
Think Tank, Newcastle (15)
Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (16)
KOKO, London (17)
Great Escape, Brighton (18)
Blissfields Festival, Winchester (July 6)
Latitude Festival, Suffolk (14)
Leopalooza, Exeter (28)
Reading Festival, Reading (Aug 26)
Leeds Festival, Leeds (27)