Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner discussed her New York Times best-seller Crying In H Mart, reading a segment of it to Ohio University Music Summit attendees in Baker Ballroom.
Zauner is usually known as the frontwoman of her band, who create psychedelic alternative-pop hits. Japanese Breakfast has been praised for its works such as Psychopomp (2016) and Jubilee (2021), which earned two Grammy-nominations for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album.
The singer is also currently in the process of adapting Crying in H Mart for the screen.
The reading was followed by a Q&A portion, where listeners asked the singer about the process of writing the memoir, as well as about the content within it. Audience members were also curious to hear of Zauner’s experience within the music industry, asking her questions about her beginnings as a musician and her creative process.
Students were excited to see an artist like Zauner grace OU’s campus, reflecting on her work and time as a musician.
“I’m a huge fan of her music,” Kelley Lach, a sophomore studying integrated media, said. “Jubilee was one of my top albums of last year, and the presence that Michelle Zahner has cultivated is one that I find really admirable. She's so authentic and vulnerable about her identity and lived experience.”
Her presence even inspired those who didn’t know much about the singer to attend the event as well.
“I've heard of Japanese Breakfast before and listened to it a little bit, but I didn't really know of Michelle too much, so this was a bit new to me, but it was super cool,” Anna Gavin, a freshman studying plant biology, said.
Students and locals rushed to the microphones provided with questions, Zauner was lively and engaged with the audience, giving valuable advice to aspiring musicians in the crowd, as well as journalism students.
“I think it's always really cool to hear artists’ or musicians’ process in creating their art, so it was really cool to hear from someone like this,” Gavin said. “Her story is especially cool being Korean American and going through all the stuff that she has in her life.”
As the end of the Q&A session grew nearer, those in the crowd were anxious to hear more of her insight, her struggles with being an only child and her mother’s apprehensions about her wanting to pursue music.
“I feel like it makes her and her music and her book more relatable to me because I hear like a firsthand experience,” Elliot Marks, a freshman studying civil engineering, said.
After the event was over, audience members were sad to see Zauner leave campus, but eager to catch her DJ set at Stuart’s Opera House, 52 Public Square.
“Being here has been really interesting because I'm not going into the music industry, but hearing where people have branched out into other disciplines is really cool,” Lach said. “Michelle has definitely done that. It's really inspirational.”