Interview – Oh Wonder

 

The prospect of writing and releasing one song a month may sound like a daunting exercise, but for London soft-pop duo Oh Wonder, it’s a technique that not only lead to the creation of a brilliant debut album, but also meant their debut shows sold out completely. Jimmy Volts speaks to Josephine Vander Gucht & Anthony West during some increasingly rare downtime to reflect on a phenomenal year…

 

Phenomenon. An overused word that’s entirely valid in Oh Wonder’s case. Little did they know their self-imposed challenge to release a new song per month via their soundcloud would result in international adoration. Josephine reflects.
“People always use the term whirlwind, but I never really 
appreciated it until now. What we’re experiencing is a force that’s rumbled through our 
lives disrupting everything, making us feel like we’re 
above the clouds.”

Anthony describes the response to their initial efforts:
“It was bizarre really. The 
first track we put up got a thousand plays within the first few days. We uploaded it anonymously. So for us, those were genuine numbers. We hadn’t shared it with anyone. With the next track, we hit a hundred thousand. And with each release, it went up and up, into the tens of millions!”

Managing to stay level-headed, the band maintained their monthly releases and scheduled their first run of gigs which sold out as quickly as they could book them. Josephine explains with 
perplexed laughter:
“Yeah, it’s odd because we scheduled two shows at the ICA and they sold out. Then we booked two shows on at the Village Underground and they sold out. So then we put Shepherds Bush tickets on sale – and this was without having played a single gig together!”

Their dreamlike story is tellingly reflective of just how engaging their music is. A subtle blend 
of chiming piano, delicate r&b beats and hushed lyrical 
interplay has led to an overwhelmingly warm response from fans at their shows, as Josephine explains.
“Now we’re touring and meeting the people who’ve been listening to us this past year, we’re continually bowled over. They’ll come up to us after each show and just pour their hearts out! We’ve had people telling us how our music’s changed their life! I don’t think we’ll ever not be surprised by that. I don’t think you’re human if you’re not overwhelmed by such love.”

One listen to their self-titled debut and it’s clear to see why they’re the subject of such a fevered response. This is a pure kind of emotive pop without pretence or ego. They’ve obviously found something special in each other. So would they employ the same strict writing techniques in future?
“Erm…No!” exclaims Anthony.
“It was fun writing the way we did. But it’s only great if you’ve nothing else going on in your life. Because in a way it takes all your energy and attention. It’d be pretty impossible to apply that when we’re gonna be touring more and more. We’ll probably write the next album within the small gaps in our schedule. A few weeks here, a few weeks there.”

Of course, with the album still relatively fresh, the call of the road is the current priority. Their UK tour takes them to Brighton this month. A city, it transpires, that was the location of their fateful first meeting.
“I was playing a gig at Audio on the seafront.” explains Anthony.
“Josephine was there and came up to me and said hello afterwards. Then I went to one of her shows, so we were aware of each other. I remember writing down in my note book “email Josephine”. 
That’s how we started meeting up once a month for songwriting sessions.”

Anthony’s anecdote demonstrates how fate can hinge on the smallest of decisions, a fact that makes Oh Wonder’s journey seem all the more special.

 

Oh Wonder play a sold out show at the Haunt on Nov 17


For more dates and to follow the band, visit the official site 
at ohwondermusic.com

Words by Jimmy Volts

 

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