While checking out some KEXP sets on YouTube last week, I came across the band Japanese Breakfast. Their sound captivated me because it has this laid back, feel-good vibe that I could just get lost in. The music takes me away to a calming place. With everything going on lately – quarantine, the virus and other stresses that life brings about, their music is a nice change to some of the heavier rock that I’ve been listening to lately. It relaxes my mind.
On Wikipedia their sound is described as dream-pop. Dream-pop is defined as style of music comprised of “sonic texture and atmosphere as much as melody”. I thought this was a fitting classification because the music has this spacey, yet dream-like sound. Their second album is even titled “Soft Sounds From Another Planet” and I feel like that is a perfect title for a Japanese Breakfast album. It kind of gives a definition to their sound.
Japanese Breakfast is a solo project that was started by Michelle Zauner in 2013 after returning back home to Eugene, Oregon in 2013 when her mom was diagnosed with cancer. Before this time, Zauner lived in Philadelphia where she started an emo band called Little Big League. Coming back home and working on some solo stuff allowed Zauner to take the time to experiment and expand her sound. It was these experiments that brought about the sound that was to become Japanese Breakfast.
The first Japanese Breakfast album, Psychopomp (2016), was written a few weeks after Zauner’s mother passed away. It is an album that Zauner describes as “dark and jeavy-handed” due to the trauma she was going through at the time it was written. For the second album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet (2018), Zauner describes the theme of this album as “using space as a way to disassociate from trauma and grief”.
Zauner wrote a personal story called “Crying In H Mart” where she talks about “growing up Korean-American, losing her mother suddenly and too young, searching for identity in a hybrid culture, and finding a passion for her ancestry (and Korean cooking) as a way to heal and return to her roots in the wake of her loss”. I really enjoyed reading this as whenever there is a story behind something you can get more of personal feel and connection to the artist and their music. It always makes it feel more meaningful the next time you give that artist a listen because you understand more about where they are coming from and what they have been through.