Japanese Breakfast: The Indie Rock Band That’s Taking the World by Storm Year over Year

The alternative rock band, Japanese Breakfast, has been hitting milestone after milestone since their debut in 2013, and the signs are clear that the world is ready and waiting for all that the four-member group has in store. Led by Korean-American singer, songwriter, director, and author, Michelle Zauner, the band is also home to producer and guitarist Peter Bradley, drummer Craig Hendrix, and bassist Deven Craige.

The band’s journey began on Tumblr in 2013 with Zauner writing, recording, and uploading 30 songs throughout the month of June, achieving her aim of composing a song per day. Fast-forward almost a decade later, Japanese Breakfast has released three studio albums; Psychopomp, 2016, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, 2017, and Jubilee, 2021—the latter earning the group several nominations, including Best Alternative Music Album and Best New Artist, courtesy of the Grammy Awards.

This acknowledgment by the Recording Academy further aligns with the reality of Japanese Breakfast’s heightened exposure in recent years. The group was received incredibly well during their 2022 Coachella performance with the crowd erupting in cheers at the start of Be Sweet’s instrumental.

Be Sweet is featured on Jubilee and had the audience swaying and gazing on, at Zauner in particular, who seemed to have them locked in a mesmeric trance, as she did similarly when the group opened their set with Paprika.

Zauner also delivered her tender melodic vocals on the Saturday Night Live stage for the season 47 finale on May 21. Along with her band, she rendered Be Sweet and Paprika in a moving performance that highlighted the tremendous skills of the instrumentalists who backed her up with just as much intensity to support each lyric she sang—as they also did for the band’s performances on The Ellen Degeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast on the set of Saturday Night Live’s Season 47 Finale Episode (Instagram.com/jbrekkie)

The excitement felt after years of hard work paying off can be read line for line like a book off Zauner’s face whenever she performs and fans of the group have been feeling every emotion just the same. Many echo a similar sentiment that Japanese Breakfast is finally getting the recognition the group deserves but that acclaim is in no way limited to the world of music.

Zauner is spreading her wings and the group is soaring along with her. She was named among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2022 and in 2021, she released her book, Crying in H Mart: A Memoir, which debuted at number two on The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list—to date, spending more than 35 weeks on the list.

The book’s description invites readers into an “exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance,” adding that “Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon.” It is completed by this gripping statement, “Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.

In an interview with Newsweek, Zauner puts it all into perspective; her music, her influence, her feelings. She says, “I think that it’s really an exciting time for me because I never felt like I could be a main character. I feel like my story is not just an Asian-American story, it’s about mothers and daughters. It’s about grief, it’s about food. It’s about memory, it’s about coming of age, it’s about creativity. And I feel like there are all these touchstones that a wide variety of people can relate to, and I think that that’s very exciting.”