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Now Hear This: Japanese Breakfast

The Korea-born Asian American indie icon shares the music that shaped her.


Published: 21 Mar 2019

Time taken : ~10mins

Korea-born American music artist Michelle Zauner is the creative and emotional force behind Japanese Breakfast, a fast-rising indie project with an atmospheric dream pop sound that belies the deeply personal nature of Zauner's music. We get the Asian American indie icon to share with us the music that shaped her.

What was the first song that had a big impact on you?

Michelle Zauner: Peach, Plum, Pear is a Joanna Newsom song that sort of taught me you don't have to have a specific kind of voice to be a successful musician. You can have a voice with tremendous character and people can still enjoy it.

You were born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Oregon, USA. What song did you listen to all the time growing up?

Growing up I loved the song Carry the Zero by Built to Spill. It was the first song I learned how to play on the guitar!

You've got a strong sense of your Korean identity and heritage. What was your first significant encounter with Korean music?

I think one of the most significant encounters I had was the first time I heard Haenim by Kim Jung Mi. The song is written/produced by Shin Joo Hyun and was introduced to me by John from Gimbab records. This song is so epic and moving and later on I found out my mother and her sisters were big Shin Joo Hyun fans.

What song inspires you the most?

I love the song Race for the Prize by The Flaming Lips. It's so fun and always makes me feel inspired.

What song has had a strong influence on Japanese Breakfast's sound?

I think it depends from song to song. For a lot of my second album Soft Sounds From Another Planet I was influenced by The Flaming Lips and Grandaddy. Just really fun, big, songs with epic, imaginative production.

You're writing music for an upcoming video game, Sable, and you've even got your own video game, Japanese BreakQuest. What's your favourite video game song?

I personally love the Chrono Cross soundtrack! All the songs are amazing.

What is your favourite song by a musician that you would consider a role model?

Björk is a huge inspiration. I've always admired her ability to craft completely different worlds album to album. She's in a complete league of her own.

Looking at your own discography, what’s your favourite Japanese Breakfast song?

I think Road Head is one of my favourites. It's the sort of direction I'm most excited to explore on the next LP.

What Japanese Breakfast song would you recommend to people new to your music?

I think Boyish is a nice introduction!

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