"I want to celebrate music as a force for good in the world. I think music, like any form of art - like literature, like theater, like dance, whatever it is - they are the forces for change and they are the things that will make the world a better place."
That's a pretty definitive affirmation Oh Wonder's Josephine Vander Gucht laid on us when she and her bandmate Anthony West visited Baeble HQ last month to discuss their phenomenal, self-titled debut album. Of course, such a statement is not too much of a surprise after reading up on the band in anticipation for our conversation. The band pinned a personal pact to the wall of their South London recording studio. It reads: "We have a publishing deal off the back of writing incredible songs'; 'We are in-demand songwriters, respected for our art'; 'We feel that anything is possible and live the yes life'; 'Music earns us an amazing living and we travel the world thanks to it.'" Clearly, Oh Wonder are determined to make the most of the amazing opportunity the universe has given them.
Like the rest of the internet, we fell HARD for the British duo when they started to trickle out such irresistible, electro-pop confectionary via Soundcloud a little over a year ago. We chatted w/ the band last summer about the 12 songs they released in 2015 (one a month)...how they originally put a song ("Body Gold") up just to get it out there and have tens of millions of plays of those singles about a year later.
Since our last conversation, the band have flipped that success into a major label deal, a recent run of sold-out shows in North America, and what Anthony describes as an "unconventional" debut album. "We released 12 or 13 singles," he told us. "We didn't write an album as a whole...we were writing songs with as many hooks as you can because they were all singles."
"We're very confused," Josephine admits during our conversation, but it all seems so genuine. Oh Wonder never suspected they would get this far, this fast. "We don't understand how it's happened or where it's come from," Josephine told us. "Now we're on hundreds of millions of plays". But there is nothing to be confused about. Oh Wonder, the album, offers that rare dose of immediate emotional necessity, in ways we maybe haven't heard since, I don't know...maybe The Postal Service's Give Up? Yep.
"Because of the nature of how we wrote the record, we weren't really thinking about overall concepts or themes or narratives that we wanted to touch on," Josephine explained. "It was only in hindsight that we realized that the album has a very human focus...We realized what's important is that you focus on the unifying theme of community and support and being there for people. You have to harness an energy between people and be there for people and be nice to people. So many of our songs are about relationships with all different kinds [of people]. It's not a love record, it's about celebrating being human."
a force for good in the world. And I think music, like any form of art: like literature, like theater, like dance, whatever it is, they are the forces for change and they are the things that will make the world a better place. Step out into the sun Skies above, they radiate me Lift up, carry the load Do you know? unconventional in that sense because we released 12, 13 singles. We didn't write an album as a whole, which, for us the album's a way to really hook people in, but you... You're writing songs with as many hooks as you can because they're all singles. Cause I'm kickin' up stones without you Can't pick up the phone without you I'm a little bit lost without you Without you And I'm diggin' down holes without you Can't be on my own without you I'm a little bit lost without you Without you wrote together was about four years ago, and from that point we kind of realized we had this deep connection, writing, and it was really easy to write together, wasn't it? - Yeah. - So we wrote like every month, really loosely, it was like, friends kind of thing. And then, Oh Wonder started September last year when we had the guts to release one of the songs. So we decided to release one song a month the whole year, starting in September 2014, and we hadn't written any songs with, after the first song Body Gold and Shock, which was the second song, which was kind of ready. But no other songs had been written... - It was it was kind of a way for us to just become better songwriters and practice our craft because it is like a muscle, like the more you train it the stronger it gets. So we've both been releasing music on and off over the last 10 years, probably and have always had that kind of gratifying but difficult journey of trying to persuade people to listen to our music, and say, "Please listen to my song, please tell your friends, and please come to my show. " And the first time that we uploaded an Oh Wonder song, we uploaded it anonymously just on Soundcloud and it had a few hundred plays within the first hour, and obviously we hadn't told anybody about it, and it was just kind of naturally spreading. For us, that kind of signal, this thing that was like, "Wow, okay, this is..." - It kind of had its own momentum. - It was really odd and it just flew and now we're on hundreds of millions of plays and we're very confused and don't understand how that's happened or where it's come from. - Yeah, from the start it was a side project, so I think that's where it kind of... - It's Sod's Law, isn't it? Like... - This is your side project? - Yeah. Cause lovin' you, lovin' you is too hard All I do, all I do's not enough Lovin' you, lovin' you I cannot be lovin' you, lovin' you Lovin' you, lovin' you leaves me hurt All I do, all I do is get burnt Lovin' you, lovin' you I cannot be lovin' you, lovin' you - Because of the nature of how we wrote the records, we weren't really thinking about overall concepts or themes or narratives that we wanted to touch on, and it's only in hindsight that we realized that the album has a very human focus. So we both live in London, I'm from London, and we wrote the record in London. London, like any big city, like New York, is one of those places of extremes so you have extreme wealth and extreme poverty. You have the highest buildings in the world and people who are homeless living at the bottom of them. And you have people that flock to the city to try and make it, and you have the successful ones and the people that are still trying. And I guess those extremes and that polarity is something that, in hindsight, really affected us and we realized that what's important amidst those extremes is that you focus on the unifying theme of community and support and being there for people. You have to harness an energy between people and be there for other people and be nice to people and celebrate love and support and community. So many of our songs, therefore, are about relationships of all different kinds. It's not a love record, it's not...it's about celebrating being a human. Lovin' you, lovin' you
Oh Wonder are a London-based alt-pop duo, consisting of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West. Since releasing their DIY debut album, they have seen international success with their mellow, slow-grooving, R&B-flecked alt-pop tunes. Beginning in September 2014, Anthony and Josephine set out to write, record, and release one song a month for a year. All of the songs were released together as a self-titled debut album on September 4, 2015.
Sold out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles and New York a week after their debut album release marked the beginning of the bands touring career.