Twenty-one year old Amber Bain - who performs under the stage name The Japanese House - is not your typical star in the making. In today’s music scene, typically one of the first things that most artists do is get as much information about themselves as possible out there. For Bain it seems almost the exact opposite, her project The Japanese House doesn’t have a Wikipedia page or much of an online presence at all. Yet the buzz around her, perhaps boosted by the mystery, is as big as any band on your standard “must hear” list.
Her song “Still” was the final “Hottest Record in the World” played by Zane Lowe on his legendary Radio 1 show in England. The Japanese House has also caught the ears of pop stars The 1975 for whom The Japanese House opened for on their US arena tour earlier this year.
That buzz has lead The Japanese House to a US headline tour that is sold out at nearly every date. The tour kicked off Monday night in Boston, MA at the intimate Great Scott on Comm. Ave. The show started with little fanfare, as the small in stature Bain walked onto the stage, guitar in hand, and began playing. The whole idea behind The Japanese House is to make music that is focused more on the sound rather than the person performing it. In previous interviews Bain has stated that she purposely used a gender-neutral alias to record under so that the music could stand on it’s own.
So far it’s working out exceptionally well, as Bain and her backing band mixed and matched songs from their 3 EP’s currently available. Some of the material, such as “Clean” is best classified under the dream pop genre label, with electronic beats, and soft, haunting vocals. While some of the material for the newest EP “Swim Against the Tide” picks up on the beats, and adds an element of shoegaze style indie rock such as on the track “Good Side In.”
Whatever direction Bain seems to go in, her fans seem to follow at every turn. Every song performed on the night was met with cheers and an almost unanimous chorus singing the lyrics right back. The show had sold out months in advance, and a very rare long pre-show line was formed outside Great Scott prior to doors. The small bar was as packed as I’ve ever seen it.
The air of mystery around The Japanese House contributes to the intrigue in the way that it did for bands of the past. A lot of people who were curious about the band is about decided to find out by simply attending the show. A practice that has dwindled with the internet age. It remains to be seen if Bain can keep up the mystery behind her project, but she already she has the attention of many in the music world, and the potential to be a star.