There’s few musicians creating sounds like those that swirl around The Japanese House. Instantly transportive, Amber Bain’s kaleidoscopic backing is impossible to contain, and it’s one that’s seen her break free of the blogs and garner a global fanbase, hooked on her every whispered word.
In celebration of a year that’s seen her work under The Japanese House bloom into life, we got Amber to compile a list of the influences on that unmistakable sound. From Bon Iver to, er, Bon Iver, it touches base with everything from The National to the Beach Boys, and goes some way to untangling the complex and beautiful web that makes up The Japanese House.
Dive in below, and catch up with The Japanese House’s Class of 2016 interview here.
Bon Iver - ‘Perth’
This album (‘Bon Iver’) is one of the hardest albums to pick a favourite track from. I chose ‘Perth’ because it is the single best song I have ever seen performed live.
Fleetwood Mac - ‘Everywhere’
One of the best pop songs ever written.
The Beach Boys - ‘God Only Knows’
During primary school, I used to attend a gymnastics club on Wednesday evenings. I have few clear recollections of the actual acrobatics, but I do remember the drives to and from with my Dad. He used to pick songs and teach my younger brother and I the harmonies, and we’d chorus them as he drove around. ‘God Only Knows’ was our number one favourite of all time to sing, and perhaps the song that formed my understanding of harmony all together.
Here We Go Magic - ‘Over the Ocean’
I once fell asleep on a long haul flight with my headphones on, and I had accidentally left this song playing on a loop. I have no idea how long I was asleep for or how many times it played, but not enough times for me to get bored of it. Or for that vocal sample that sounds like it’s saying ‘so sad’ to not make me feel so sad.
Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons - ‘Dawn (Go Away)’
I’ve been a huge fan of Frankie Valley since I was 8 and my family went on a six hour drive (I can’t remember where to) and the only CDs we had in the car were ‘The Very Best of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons’ and ‘Blondie - Greatest Hits’. My Mum’s name is Dawn, so whenever this song came on (approx 6-10 times) my brother and I would literally scream it at the back of her head.
Beach House - ‘Take Care’
Victoria Legrand’s voice is the best and the reason I think it’s cool that my voice sometimes sounds like a boy’s.
The National - ‘Lemonworld’
My music doesn’t really have much in common with The National at all, but sometimes I hear my lyrics and think ‘does that sound like I’m copying Matt Berninger?’. When I listen again it never does; I think it’s just wishful thinking. ‘Lemonworld’ is a perfect example of the kind of nonchalant snapshot I fail to imitate.
Kate Bush - ‘Cloudbusting’
One of my favourite songs, the vocal is amazing, and I love the harmonies that come in later on. Also the string arrangement is so dramatic; it’s really great.
Radiohead - ‘Idioteque’
I have listened to this song so many times and still never know when the vocal is going to come in. It’s a very strange song and the chords are so nice.
Bon Iver - ‘Heavenly Father’
I’m a huge fan of vocal sampling; the introduction of this song is my idea of a perfect introduction. A simple chord progression throughout, but the production (e.g the sound of those panned acoustic guitars after the first snare hit) allows for that.