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Japanese Breakfast frontwoman Michelle Zauner to write memoir Crying in H Mart

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Known for rocking the stage with cosmic sound and aching lyrics, Philadephia’s own Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast is embarking on a new artistic adventure: writing a book. Zauner signed a deal with Knopf to publish her memoir, Crying in H Mart, which shares the story of her childhood as a Korean-American, losing her mother to cancer, and her hunt for identity.

In 2018, Zauner published an essay in the New Yorker by the same title that explored the loss of her mother and how she connected to her late mother through Korean food. Continue reading →

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The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “Everybody Wants to Love You” from Japanese Breakfast’s 2016 album Psychopomp.

Chances are, “Everybody Wants to Love You” was one of the first songs you heard from Japanese Breakfast, the project of Philly’s Michelle Zauner. It was released in early 2016 as a single off Psychopomp, her debut album with the project, but it’s origins are a bit deeper — an early version of the song was written with one of Zauner’s old bands, Birthday Girlz, before she decided to repurpose it for Japanese Breakfast. That turned out to be an excellent idea. “Everybody Wants to Love You” the kind of bright, open song that is the catchiest of catchy; you can sing and dance along to it as much as you want, but it also draws you in so intensely that you’ll immediately want to listen to everything else this artist has ever written.

And if you have taken a dive into Japanese Breakfast’s two albums, 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds From Another Planet, you’re familiar with the kinds of themes Zauner gravitates toward. She’s often open about the real-life subjects of her songs, which include her husband-slash-bandmate, and even more frequently her late mother. She doesn’t shy away from baring pain and heartache, and even songs that betray grief, sadness, anger and frustration are also full of great love. Continue reading →

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Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast directed a Better Oblivion Community Center video; BOCC announced a Union Transfer show

Better Community Oblivion Center | still from video

After not-so-surprise releasing their collaborative album as Better Oblivion Community Center, Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst today announced the project’s U.S. tour, and shared a brand new music video for the song “Dylan Thomas,” directed by Michelle Zauner of Philadelphia’s Japanese Breakfast.

The video plays on ideas of cult and the occult, as well as the weirdness of technology, following Oberst and Bridgers as they attend a meeting by the titular 800-number self-help group, which devolves into candlelit ritual, which devolves into V.R. party. Continue reading →

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Japanese Breakfast is playing a free show at Dogfish Head Brewery

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Delaware craft beer trailblazers Dogfish Head will throw their 8th annual Analog-A-Go-Go festival at their Milton brewery. The two-day festival features beer, local food trucks, an onsite record store, and a free performance by indie pop star Japanese Breakfast on Friday, November 16th.  Continue reading →

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Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner publishes New Yorker essay “Crying in H Mart”

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

If you’re familiar with Michelle Zauner’s work as Japanese Breakfast, you may know how deeply the death of her mother has affected and inspired her songwriting. She wrote the songs on Psychopomp, her first album as Japanese Breakfast, in the wake of her mother’s passing a few years ago; her mom is featured on the album artwork as well.

But in addition to songwriting, the Philadelphia-based musician has written about her relationship with her mother in prose, too — in this 2016 piece for Glamour magazine, but most recently in her first essay for the New Yorker, which is equal parts tribute to her mother and tribute to H Mart, an Asian supermarket chain. As she explains, the two are more interwoven than one might think — a trip to H Mart isn’t like a trip your typical grocery store, but a fully immersive cultural experience that sounds about as close as you can get to the real thing without leaving the US. Continue reading →

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Japanese Breakfast covers The Cranberries’ “Dreams”

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Following the sudden passing of The Cranberries‘ frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan earlier this year, many musicians have been moved to incorporate covers of the iconic band’s hit songs into their live sets. But Japanese Breakfast had already been doing just that, for quite some time. If you’ve seen Michelle Zauner and band play, you may have caught their cover of “Dreams,” the breakout single from The Cranberries’ 1993 LP Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We. Now, Japanese Breakfast’s rendition of “Dreams” has been properly recorded — the band just released the cover as part of the Spotify Singles series. The release also includes a live recording of “Road Head,” off JBrekkie’s 2017 album Soft Sounds From Another Planet. Continue reading →