Narrow talks to… Japanese Breakfast
By Lindsey Breneman
In 2013, Michelle Zauner’s life was uprooted when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Three years later, in the wake of losing her mother, Zauner released “Psychopomp” under the solo moniker, Japanese Breakfast. Her music is dynamic and experimental with a refreshing dose of striking honesty that shines through each lyric.
She will take the stage at The High Dive on Feb. 8 as the headline show of Gainesville’s third annual Changeville Music and Arts Festival. The festival is meant to be a vehicle for social change by connecting artists who use music, comedy, film, virtual reality and storytelling to positively impact the community at large.
Narrow: Can fans expect new music soon? How will this album be different from the two prior?
Michelle: I haven't really started making new music yet. I've just been working on so many different projects and touring a lot and needed some time to myself to figure out what I wanted to say and kind of fall back in love with music again. It's really important to me to make a record because I have something new I want to explore and not just because it's expected of me and people feel like it's time for a new one. I think people can hear it when something is inauthentic. I've got a few demos I'm excited to open up in the coming months and lately I've been thinking about doing some kind of isolating retreat to get the juices flowing. I'm finally at the point where I am really excited to get back to work and feel like I can make something special. I'm not sure how it will be different yet. I do think I want to invite some more collaboration on this next one since Soft Sounds was so bare bones just two people (me and Craig Hendrix) arranging and producing and playing everything.
Narrow: Are there any particular things that have inspired your new music?
Michelle: I'm in a sort of hard place where the last two records were so grief focused and now it feels like I'm expected to turn to some other subject and let that go. But it's hard, because I almost feel guilty not writing about it anymore, or I've just forgotten how to write about something else. My mom passing away was just the most intense, traumatic thing that has ever happened to me so sometimes it just feels like I will never be able to walk away from writing about it. But I'd like to write material that's a bit more joyous for this next one.
Narrow: What do you hope your audience takes away from your music? What do you hope live audiences get from your shows?
Michelle: I hope that they find a personal connection in it, that they're moved by it, I guess. I hope people find a beautiful community at our shows and have the best time ever!
Narrow: The University of Florida has an extremely active Asian student population in many different disciplines, including many artistic fields. I’ve seen that one of your hopes is to inspire more Asian-Americans in the music industry. Do you have any advice for the many Asian-Americans here in Gainesville hoping to make their mark in the arts?
Michelle: I think my biggest piece of advice is just to work hard. Finish projects and put them out there and just keep doing it. Stay true to exploring what excites you and feels true, not what is popular or what you think is marketable.