Welcome to the 405's Ones to Watch rundown, 2016. In an attempt to hammer home the 'quality over quantity' adage, this year's selection is slightly smaller at just seven artists, but we're confident you'll find someone to fall in love with this week.

Amber Bain is The Japanese House. 20-years-old from East London. Her soft-pop is epicene and layered. Her artistic-moniker, directly derived from the vacation house she had stayed at with family when she was eight. A house owned by Kate Winslet.

Amber speaks quietly and humbly in her rehearsal room that she turned into a mini studio. She's recording today, working on her third EP, which will follow Pools To Bathe In and Clean. It was only the beginning of the year that she even emerged sonically, delivering her eerie, experimental and perfectly relatable pop. But here she is, back in the studio, recording more music, adding to an already established discography that grows as she comes further into her own. And that exactly why The Japanese House is one to watch.

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Alien pop. Androgynous. These are just some of the words others use to describe your work. As the creator, which words would you associate with your music?

Soft-pop. There's lots of element of pop in it but it's alternative in the way it's produced.

Your first EP Pools To Bathe In is a product of your strange imagination. How does your Clean EP differ?

I think Clean is different, because the songs are less minimal but structurally more sunny-songs. That's a really bad way to describe it, but they are a bit more upbeat songs. The title track 'Clean' has more of a poppy feel to it. It has an ambient-pop kind of vibe. The songs have more momentum to them, I think. It has a newer feel to it. I recorded those songs over the course of a year. I chose those songs, because it had a more sunny feel to it.

Conceptually, how did you dive into this project in a different way than your first body of work?

With the first EP, I had all the songs apart from 'Sister' completely finished. I mostly produced the demos in my room and then we went to a studio in Brussels for a week and there was more of a, "we're only here for a week, let's pack it all in." The song 'Sister', I didn't mean to even do the song and I ended up writing it when we were there. This time, the songs with for the second EP weren't necessarily finished and I knew I had to put the structure and production down more-so this time. They're not that different to the demos this time. It was kind of over a much longer period of time of going in and out of the studio and recording and mixing. It was a longer process rather than a structured week.

And you worked with the same crew this time around, like Matty Healy and George Daniel from the 1975. Why was sticking with them the right choice for you?

When we did the first EP, they hadn't really gone to the studio before to produce something on their own. Same with me, I had done production on my own in my room but had never gone to the studio. We just kind of turned up and it was a bit experimental because we were trying to find our footing. It was a really good decision to do it all with them again, because me and George now have such an idea of what we want. We don't even have to speak to each other when we're working because we just know what we want. I'll continue to work with them, because we built a team. George is a really amazing producer, he's great at mixing. And Matty spots the ideas out. But we don't really stray away from what I've already produced. It's good to bounce ideas off of two people that have similar taste.

You previously had a very anonymous aesthetic to your artistic moniker and you were quoted recently by saying, "I didn't want the mystery to become bigger than the music." How have things changed for you now that a name and a face are attached to your music?

I was going to say I don't get any questions about my gender, because a lot of people didn't know if I was a girl or a boy but that still happens. It's quite funny. But the majority of people have read about me know now. I don't think it's really changed in regards to what people say about my music, which is a good thing. It's hard to keep gender and age out of people's idea of you when it comes to the music but that hasn't really changed, I guess.

Did it affect your confidence at all when you basically said, "Hey, I'm Amber too"?

I don't think it was planned. It was more of a natural progression. That's what happens when the more music you release, the more people are going to know you. Playing live shows and people seeing you there, it doesn't feel like I'm a silent person on the internet. I'm actually a human.

You had your first shows this year?

Yeah, it was so fun. It's quite strange, because I think the usual way is to play loads of shows and fill up the audience and then a lot of people come to your shows but for me, I'd already released an EP and so there wasn't that much out there but people were singing along and such and that was overwhelming.

What did your first gigs teach you about your craft?

When it comes to getting the live-shows ready, it re-sparks the excitement about my songs and reminds me of how I structured them around the time I was recording and things like that. It easy to get the sense of, "that's so weird, I wrote that." I still get nervous. But I think it takes time. I still have a long time before I get completely confident.

I heard you used to dance hip-hop and you know how to crip walk and you can pop and lock. Is there any chance you'll throw those in your show to break the ice?

I hope so. I've probably lost it now.

I'm sure if you break it out in your room, you'll be able to get it back.

I definitely have to try out. I'll have to get really drunk.

So leading into next year, what can we expect from you and what are your goals for yourself?

At the moment I'm just recording. I have loads and songs and I'm going back three years-worth of material and I'm watering it down recreating those songs. I'm keeping the songs but making them relevant to now. I'm just trying to build a collection of material that fits together.

How are you ending this year a different person and a different artist than how you started it?

I'm ending the year excited for the next. It's going to be pretty crazy touring-wise. I'm excited to release new stuff and play loads of shows.


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