If you were lucky enough to have The Japanese House on your radar, hopefully you got a ticket to their show at Bottom Lounge in Chicago’s West Side last Saturday.
Careful to not be fooled by the wiener dog sweater and shy demeanor. The Japanese House performed their string of EPs to create one of the most passively alluring sets I have ever seen.
It is important to note that, until a few months ago, I assumed The Japanese House was an all-male indie band since, you know, they typically always are. With synth-heavy, fragmented harmonies layered over one another, accompanied by cover art featuring crashing waves and a broken-down car, there was never an explicit face or sense of gender to The Japanese House, so I defaulted as so many of us do. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Amber Bain, a 20-something blonde Brit out of East London, as the mastermind behind Dirty Hit Records’ coolest find to-date.
As it turns out, this confusion is exactly what Amber Bain wanted.
Inspired by a childhood stay at an English cottage where Bain identified as a boy named Danny for a week, she discovered her love for androgyny as a form of artistic expression. With this notion of art without gender, Bain took her love for classic bands like Fleetwood Mac and The Beach Boys and let it influence her path.
The Japanese House’s sound resembles a combination of Imogen Heap, James Blake and something eerily familiar yet indistinguishable. Bain consistently creates something best described as a dark pop distortion riddled with an admiration for loneliness craving rigidity. Similar to Blake, Bain is known for embedding beat breaks in the middle of tracks as a way to transcend the listener back to the start of her process—no synthesizers, no definitive path but something raw.
The Chicago show was short—as in, done-before-10-p.m.-kind of short—but was breathtaking nonetheless. With an obvious craving from the crowd for an encore that never happened, The Japanese House left the stage in the same way they arrived on the scene—out of nowhere.