They are all separate entities, “each their own little world, all of them linked by the theme of joy,” Michelle Zauner tells Eugene Weekly in a phone interview about the songs on her new album Jubilee. On Friday, Sept. 24, Zauner, who performs under the name Japanese Breakfast, will return to WOW Hall, where she performed her first show at 16. “Eugene will always kind of feel like home for me,” Zauner says warmly, expressing her excitement to visit old favorite spots such as Newman’s Fish Company and Café Yumm!. She was born in Seoul, grew up in Eugene and now lives in New York City. Zauner describes Jubilee as an expression of — and a fight for — joy, something that she “felt ready to write about,” after having written her first two albums about the grief of losing her mother. The album explores joy as if in an expansive web across space and time, weaving through comfort and pain and everything between. “Kokomo, IN,” a love song on the album, talks about two teenagers saying goodbye as “a joyous thing, instead of being sad… because there’s so much life ahead of them.” Zauner describes Jubilee as taking the “optimism of youth” and using it as a lens for life now — remembering how she “fought for it so hard” at 16 fuels her performances now. If the “battle for joy” she fights with Jubilee requires tools, Zauner muses that “passion and creativity” would be under her belt.
Japanese Breakfast performs at WOW Hall, 291 W. 8th Avenue, 8 pm Friday, Sept. 24. SOLD OUT. — Jenna Comstock