Aspiring artists don’t settle for what they have, and no one understands that better than Amber Bain, who played a sold-out show at the Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake St.) on Feb. 25. The British artist and the mastermind behind the band The Japanese House frothed up nearly half a million listeners from only a handful of SoundCloud singles.
The Japanese House is a band, but is only comprised of one member: Vocalist and guitarist Amber Bain.
While sipping on a beer, Bain introduced her backing band in a friendly manner. The chemistry between the three of them was clear and authentic. The trio play together, but aren’t band members, and they didn’t take themselves too seriously during the performance, which gave them a welcoming and genuine stage presence.
Bain created the name The Japanese House to give herself an ungendered stamp in the music industry and to avoid being stigmatized, like some female musicians are. The name itself comes from the family nickname of her vacation home in Cornwall, England.
Bain’s dreamy voice paired with keyboard synths helped create The Japanese House’s distinct sound. It’s easy for a performer’s voice to get lost in the sounds of the other instruments, but this wasn’t the case. During her performance of “Sister,” the harmonies came through between the atmospheric-sounding synths. The Japanese House carried its studio sound into a live setting incredibly well.
The setlist included Bain’s darker, serious songs. “Letter By the Water,” released in 2015, romanticizes death, saying “I want to drown,” in the feelings of love another individual is giving her. Conversely, “Good Side In” has an upbeat tempo accompanied by a warmer guitar riff and ebullient, bubbly keyboard synths.
Bain played a selection of songs that came from all three of her albums records. The audience was disappointed when she announced “Still” would be her last song. One of her popular songs, “Still” summed up the entire concert with a stunning performance. Bain improvised and experimented with her vocals, adding to the moody instrumentals. The performance as a whole introduced another side to The Japanese House.
The Japanese House is slowly gaining popularity, and it helps Bain put on a stellar performance. Sounding exactly how she does on record, Bain is fantastically natural on stage and an awe-inspiring musician. Her clarity of vision is remarkable, and the visual element of her artistry is close to perfectly executed. Bain has traveled to Morocco, Iceland and Los Angeles to shoot photos for the covers of each of her three albums, essentially acting as her own creative director for The Japanese House.
By closing with “Still,” Bain wrapped up a solid and surprising set that left the audience craving more. As a truly individual talent, now supported by a major label and a backing band, opportunity is hers. Bain has already proved in the space of three projects, but the 20-year-old is ready to continue on what might be a fruitful career.