@popmanimagasin/Instagram

“I’m in a constant crisis because I love my dog, but I also worry that I might be keeping him prisoner” muses Amber Bain, the brilliant brains and voice behind The Japanese House. Amber is speaking to me on the phone from her studio in Oxfordshire on a sunny January morning with her dogs wrestling in the background, ahead of the release of her highly-anticipated debut album, Good at Falling, on March 1st. The Japanese House’s dreamy electro-pop has captured the hearts of many, including myself, since her first EP came out in 2015. She describes her music style as “hard to pin down,” but says that it’s “a mixture of depressing lyrics and hopeful chord progressions,” with most of her songs based around relationships and love. According to Amber, Good at Falling involves a wide range of styles and moods, so there’s bound to be something to tickle everyone’s fancy.

When asked what she’d like a listener to take away from the new album, Amber says that once she’s released a record, she largely loses control of how it’s perceived. “There’s always that battle between wanting the listener to interpret a song how I intended, and allowing them to interpret it personally,” she says. “I don’t think I’d be a songwriter if I didn’t want to say something, but sometimes the more intent you put into a song, the more it takes away from its honesty.” However, the overall aim of the album is to illicit “that weird nostalgic feeling you get when you go back to a place you haven’t seen in a long time,” which is certainly the vibe one gets from the two singles already released, Lilo and Follow My Girl.

Good at Falling features only one song from The Japanese House’s earlier EPs: I Saw You in a Dream, which Amber wrote during a very emotionally difficult time following the death of a friend. “The only thing I have is my perspective of things,” she says humbly, but this perspective makes for a wonderfully beautiful song, the album version of which is set to be even more dreamlike, as it’s been re-produced acoustically. While I Saw You in a Dream is high on the list, Amber’s favourite song to perform live is Clean, which she admits is probably the most-played song in her music library (it’s mine too). She puts this down to the fact that “I can’t relate to any music more than my own.” However, when I tell her that Clean is my go-to musical remedy for stress, she says that she can never listen to music when she’s feeling under pressure or experiencing strong emotions: “when I’m feeling an emotion, if anything more gets put on top of it, I’m a goner.”

Debut release, Good at Falling, is out on 1st March@thejapanesehouse/Instagram

The Japanese House first stepped into the spotlight when supporting The 1975 on tour a few years ago, and Amber admits that “I probably owe the boys a lot.” The 1975’s Matty Healy actually sings on her song Faraway from the upcoming album, and she’s worked closely with the band on writing and production. According to Amber, The 1975 are “hilarious, and very kind,” and she says she’d always be open to collaborating with them more. However, although the band’s influence on Amber’s music can be seen in some of her more electronic singles, her ethereal vocals and fantastic song writing skills set her apart, placing her in a league of her own.

When I ask her to disclose her best piece of advice for musicians when starting out, Amber maintains that being authentic is the most important thing. “Focus on making good and different music, rather than just trying to replicate the work of artists you love,” she implores. The key is to “make music that sounds like nothing else.” Wise words, and you’d be wiser still to listen to them; The Japanese House is arguably one of the most exciting names in British music this year.

Good at Falling is out on 1st March

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