Courtesy of Free People


The Japanese House Combats Anxiety With Surfing And Sleeping — EXCLUSIVE

The singer-songwriter stars in the first-ever Free People Sessions with an intimate interview and performance of “Boyhood.”

by Kevin LeBlanc
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It takes guts to perform in front of thousands of people on tour every night, but it may take even more nerve to play for an empty room, when it’s just you and your thoughts (and a camera). Free People Sessions, a new video series from Free People’s brand We the Free, aims to take artists out of their usual spaces (the stage, the studio) and place them in more intimate and unexpected environments. The first guest, The Japanese House, aka Amber Bain, went to a midcentury home overlooking the Los Angeles skyline with nothing but an acoustic guitar for a sunset rendition of her song “Boyhood.” The experience was different in the best way, Bain told NYLON: “Usually when I’m recording, I have headphones on, and I’m allowed mics in my ears. But this time, it was just me and the guitar, and it felt very natural. I could connect more with the song in a way.”

Bain released her second album, In the End It Always Does, last year to critical acclaim and is taking it on the road this year, with a Coachella performance already under her belt. She’s currently opening for Maggie Rogers on her arena tour, and later this summer, she’ll head out on a headlining tour across North America with stops at festivals including Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Outside Lands. Rogers’ tour has turned into a cleansing experience for Bain: “I’m doing this tour sober. I’m having a break from alcohol. I often have to have little breaks, and it’s been interesting noticing how much I use alcohol as medication for my anxiety.”

Courtesy of Free People

She touches on the anxieties that come with the hectic lifestyle of a musician in her Free People Sessions interview, continuing: “The kind of brain that writes songs is constantly thinking and being anxious.” She’s riding the wave of anxiety, literally and figuratively, mentioning how the chaos of surfing forces her to surrender to the moment. Besides finding reprieve in extreme sports, she’s also found that just going to bed is a fine remedy as well: “If you can keep things feeling quite boring or quite in the center, it feels more sustainable. It’s the extreme highs that create the extreme lows.”

Besides thrill-seeking activities and sleeping, Bain is staying calm and in the moment with the book club she started with her band. They just finished James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and are now starting Jacqueline Harpman’s I Who Have Never Known Men, which Bain says is “going to be really f*cking depressing.”

The band will be playing songs off her new album and fan favorites throughout the summer, but the track she’s most excited to play is the unreleased “Smiley Face,” dropping in late June, as she tells us: “I’ve never played a song that I haven’t released before. It brings me joy, and it seems to bring joy to the crowd, which is a nice feeling seeing as they’ve never heard it before.” Clearly, it doesn’t take much for Bain to make an impact, and her stripped-back performance for Free People Sessions proves that she can bring joy everywhere, even if it’s just her voice and her guitar.