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Interview: The Japanese House

Written by Music

This is your first full-length album. How has this process compared with that of your EPs?

Well, I guess it was much longer, and that made it more immersive. I went away to this studio in the middle of nowhere. That was all I had to think about for six weeks. Then I went away again to Brussels for three weeks, then I went away again to Oxford for two weeks. When I was thinking about the album, all I was doing was travelling.

I read that one of those locations was Bon Iver’s famous cabin in Wisconsin?

Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t call it a cabin. It’s really nice. It was a childhood dream to go.

Has Bon Iver been a big influence on you and your sound?

Yeah, I suppose he must’ve been. I’ve listened to his records about five thousand million times. There’s an energy to his music. I suppose its like this sad yet hopeful feeling. There’s a certain nostalgic energy to his music, and I think that’s the goal: to make people feel like that. I mean he can really depress me, but he makes me feel something, which is such a challenge in music.

How does your mood affect how you listen to music?

I really can’t listen to music when I’m sad. Its almost too much, like I’d feel like I’d explode. I even get that with my own music. Certain songs just make me feel too much.

What was Wisconsin like to record in? Do you find that you prefer rural places to record in and come up with ideas?

That’s a good question. I don’t know really. I’m sure that my surroundings do have an impact, but just in ways I’m not aware of. I’ve recorded in big cities as much as in rural spaces. If I think about it, I suppose it lets you get into your own world. I suppose it’s both a good thing and a bad thing having no one around to tell you that you’re wrong. When being creative, its amazing to wake up and be where you’re making your stuff. When I was younger I think I was more inspired by nature and that kind of thing, but now I find I’m much more inspired by people. I think that when I have time to be away from people and reflect on them, it becomes much easier to write about them.

You’re continuing your global tour at the moment. Where in the world do you most enjoy playing?

I like touring America. I love touring the UK, obviously, but in America you’ll wake up every day somewhere completely different. Its like living in some sort of weird dream because you sort of recognise it because you’ve seen it on TV and in films, but then you’re there. Its so odd. There’re also so many different kinds of people in America. Its this cultural shock. You almost think it’s the same because everyone speaks the same language as you. Its jarring. I just really like America.

Anywhere else?

Europe is always amazing. I feel like when people are from a different country they appreciate it more because they know its’ not gonna happen all the time.

Something I’ve always loved about your music is the production and harmonies. I know you’re a frequent collaborator with George Daniel (The 1975). How was that process this time around?

George has been great to work with, and I’ve worked with him for so long now. He’s developed so much. I suppose I’ve also gotten a lot better at production. I’ve also always loved harmonising. It’s just something I’ve always done. When I was a kid in the car with my dad I would harmonise with what was on the radio. It’s always been a big part of writing music for me. I’ve also been able to do it with live backing now, which is a dream because I’m a huge ABBA fan. Recently though I’ve learnt the power of having a simpler vocal line.

Good at Falling is out on 1st March. Follow The Japanese House’s tour at Thejapanesehouse.co.uk

Last modified: 18th February 2019

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