When the album written to memorialize your mother becomes your calling card, where do you turn for your second act? For Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner, it involved diving deeper into herself to evolve as an artist. With the release of her sophomore album Soft Sounds From Another Planet, Zauner expanded the breadth of the shimmering bedroom pop displayed on her debut Psychopomp. Her voice and vision came clearer into focus as she used the extended metaphor of outer space to observe the pain that defined the first part of her career.
Full of gleaming guitars and haunting electronics, Soft Sounds earned critical acclaim and new fans around the world, quickly making Japanese Breakfast a household name among the indie rock contingent. Much of 2018 saw Zauner on the road, further honing her live show and performing for massive audiences. All the while, she kept busy—not only as Japanese Breakfast, but as Michelle Zauner: video game composer, prolific music video director, and author.
Fans eager for new music from Zauner were pleasantly surprised in summer 2018, when she revealed “Glider” in the E3 announce trailer for the breathtaking new adventure game Sable. Drawing from her years of songwriting experience while making new explorations into creating ambient and experimental music, she composed the entire soundtrack for the highly-anticipated indie game, which is due out early 2020.
Having helmed every visual for Soft Sounds, Zauner is also well underway making a name for herself as a sought-after director, working with longtime collaborator Adam Kolodny to craft music videos for other artists. To date, she’s brought her visual signatures to artists like Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst, Jay Som, and Charly Bliss.
Between tours, studio sessions, and video shoots, Zauner has long been working on a memoir of her early childhood, time spent between the U.S. and South Korea, and the split heritage that has shaped so much of her life. An excerpt from that book, “Crying in H-Mart,” was published in The New Yorker at the end of 2018. A reflection on grief and a tribute to both biracial and immigrant families, Zauner’s essay is full of beautifully rendered, heartbreaking detail. The full book, also titled Crying in H-Mart, will be released via Knopf.