Why is it called Japanese Breakfast? Exploring history behind Michelle Zauner’s alternative pop project following SNL debut

Front Saturday Night Live’s season 47 finale on May 21, Japanese Breakfast made her debut.

Last year, the singer-songwriter, whose real name is Michelle Zauner, launched her new album jubilee she also shared the stage with Natasha Lyonne, star of Russian Doll and Orange Is the New Black.

On the show, Zauner performed two of the album’s best singles.

Japanese Breakfast on SNL 💛. Be sure to read lead singer Michelle Zauner’s awesome book ‘Crying in Hmart.’ https://t.co/Yq258zmnd7

Zauner explained that the band’s name came from blending something distinctly American (breakfast) with something “foreign” to Americans (Japanese).

she said:

“It’s frustrating because a lot of people just assume that I’m Japanese, even though I’m very vocal about being Korean…, I think the majority of people know that I’m Korean, and they support it, but sometimes people take it the wrong way, and that can be frustrating.”


Origins of Michelle Zauner’s ‘Japanese Breakfast’

Michelle Zauner’s solo musical project is Japanese Breakfast. Zauner has released two studio albums as the alias: psychopomp (2016) and Soft Sounds from Another Planet (2017).

According to Zauner, the band’s name is a juxtaposition of Asian exoticism and American culture. Zauner, a Korean-American, chose the name because “growing up relating to Japanese culture quite a bit because it felt like the closest thing [she] had” to popular Korean culture in America.

During E3 2018, it was revealed that the band would provide the soundtrack for the indie game Sable.The game was supposed to be released in 2019, but it was postponed twice. On September 23, 2021, the game and soundtrack were released.

The band released two singles in 2019 through the W Hotels music label, Essentially, and a cover of Tears for Fears’ Head Over Heels. On March 2, 2021, Zauner released Be Sweetthe first single from Dead Oceans’ third Japanese Breakfast album, jubileewhich was released on June 4, 2021.

In their self-directed music video for Be Sweet, Marisa “Missy” Dabice and Zauner played FBI agents tracking down illegal immigrants.

Front The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on March 15, Japanese Breakfast performed the songs Be Sweet and Jimmy Fallon Big! On April 8, 2021, a second single, Posing In Bondagewas released.

However, on May 13, 2022, the band was announced as the musical guest for Saturday Night Live’s season finale on May 21, 2022.

Apart from being a music star, Zauner is also the author of Crying in H Mart. The memoir explored Zauner’s relationship with food and how Korean recipes and grocery stories helped her remember her late mother, who died of cancer in 2014.

Crying in H Mart has become a New York Times bestseller, and has appeared on the ‘Best Books of 2021’ lists of Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, the Wall Street Journal, and others.

The band received a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 2021, while Jubilee received a nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. Japanese Breakfast’s music is available on most major music streaming platforms.


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