Amber Bain is one of those multi-talented, effortlessly poised artists who can command a stage with the sort of gentle presence that draws you in without you realizing it. The Japanese House is the moniker of her solo indie-pop act, hailing from the UK and now based in London. She has recently risen in popularity after releasing four EP’s: Pools to Bathe In, Clean, Swim Against the Tide, and Saw You in a Dream, as well as touring with The 1975. The release of the latest full length album Good at Falling resulted in a sold-out victory lap tour.
The LA show was no less of a success for Bain, as a sold-out house at the Fonda echoed with cheers. Greeting the audience like they were old friends, she and her band started out with a rendition of “Cool Blue” from her 2015 EP Clean, and then segued effortlessly into tracks from her new album including “Follow My Girl”, “We Talk all the Time”, “Lilo” and “You Seemed So Happy”. The entranced crowd was reminiscent of a high school art class- equal parts hipster and artsy nerd, caught torn between dreaming and dancing by Bain’s smooth ethereal voice and mellow electronica beats.
The inspiration behind the Japanese House’s music was evident during the performance. The project’s name came from an experience Bain had as a child while staying at a property called the Japanese House, previously owned by actress Kate Winslet. As a child she presented herself as a boy to a neighborhood girl and earned her affection, but the girl was heartbroken when she learned of Bain’s “true” gender identity. The experience led her to question gender identity and sexuality more, and to seek an almost “androgynous space” for her music.
Bain is graceful as a performer and artist; she accepted a bouquet of roses from a fan and danced with them for a song before bashfully starting over when her most popular track “Saw You in a Dream” began in the wrong key. Her voice is one of those rarities that sounds even better in person. The setlist ended with the track “Worms”, and Bain’s smooth singing and encouragement to “invest yourself in something worth investing in.”
The Japanese House is currently on tour in North America. Tickets and more info here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.