• Abigail Hall

Norman Music Fest: Q&A with Japanese Breakfast

Originally published at OU Daily April 25, 2018

Indie-pop sensation Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast, formerly of Little Big League, will stop in Norman on her American/European tour for Norman Music Festival. Japanese Breakfast will tour until October.

In 2016, Zauner released her first album as Japanese Breakfast, "Psychopomp," which was creative process to help her deal with the grief of losing her mother.

Originally she had no intention of continuing as Japanese Breakfast, but when "Psychopomp" was released and received a wide array of praise, she decided to keep going.

Zauner will be joined on stage by Craig Hendrix on drums, Deven Craige on bass and Peter Bradley on guitar.

For those who have never attended a Japanese Breakfast performance, what should we expect?

A good time! A passionate, fun performance, I hope.

What’s the story with your alias as Japanese Breakfast?

Even though it’s my project, I still collaborate with a lot of people. It’s more than just me. I really liked Japanese Breakfast. I think the image that comes to mind is a really beautiful and put-together image. I’m half-Korean, but I thought Korean Breakfast sounded stupid. It’s kind of the same thing as an English breakfast — there are things that you associate with that. So, I’m not Japanese and I’m not breakfast either, so I just named it something that I enjoy.

I know you started Japanese Breakfast after your mother passed away as a way to process your grief. What led to you continue with the project?

I just made a record that I had no expectation for. I just used it as the therapeutic vehicle to channel feelings that I was having and to navigate them. I wanted a vinyl because I just wanted a physical reminder of that time period.

I never thought I could make a living as a musician because I had already tried, (and) it didn’t happen. And then, of course, when I had kind of resolved myself to that kind of life, the record came out and I think it really resonated with people. It just seemed like not the right time to hang my hat up.

Since your first record was telling the story of your grief, is your second record a continuation of that story or is there a new narrative?

I think that the new record still talks a lot about grief and moving on and just a new stage of grief.

I think I’ll probably be grieving for the rest of my life. I imagine I’ll write about it in some ways forever. I think the new album is a different stage of grief really. I think each record is just an archive of what I’m going through in my life at the time.

Are there any musicians that inspire you in your own music?

I really wanted to use this project to just express myself in every way, and I really infused my identity in everything I do. The artists that I really value are the people who are really involved in all aspects of their work, so artists like Bjork. Just having sort of a visual canon to go along with your music.

Is there a place you’re looking forward to returning to and playing?

I’m really excited to play our hometown show. We’re from Philly, and we’re playing a venue I used to work coat check at, so it’s a very full-circle moment for me to headline (there).

Japanese Breakfast will perform at 10:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 26 at Lyft Opolis Stage.

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