Shortly after releasing their debut self-titled record, Oh Wonder (Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West) hopped on the phone to speak with AMBY and discuss happy surprises, streaming platforms, singing in unison, our love of Everything Everything, and humanizing elements of music. Enjoy our exclusive interview with the London duo below.
Oh Wonder: Hi Alicia! How you doing?
AMBY: I’m good, thanks for asking. How are you both?
Josephine: Yea, we’re really good. We’re just in Los Angeles at the moment in the sun, so couldn’t be better.
AMBY: I’m very envious. I’m in Toronto and it’s pretty much like winter right now, so you’re very lucky!
Oh Wonder: Aw man, sorry to hear that.
AMBY: I have to say thanks very much for your time today. I’m glad that we can make this happen and we’re pretty stoked to discuss this new record.
Josephine: Yea, we’re really excited to be speaking with you today. Thanks for your time.
AMBY: My pleasure. So you recently released your self-titled album. It’s such a well written and fun record to listen to. How does it feel to finally have it all out there?
Anthony: It’s an amazing feeling. As you probably know, we’ve been working towards this for years so it’s amazing to actually hold physical vinyl and just have something that’s going to last forever. It’s a really cool feeling.
AMBY: You released the record in a really unique way, where you shared one track every month for a whole year. That’s a long time to be teasing people for a record, but is also a really neat way of unfolding everything. Was it difficult to bite your tongue for so long?
Josephine: This record started out really as a writing project, so an album was never really in the cards for us. It was never something we were aiming for or aspiring to have, so the fact that we have an album is a happy surprise. We absolutely relished the releasing one track a month for a year. That was our aim and that was glorious. The album is just the icing on the cake.
AMBY: It’s ridiculous when you look through your SoundCloud page — it’s 1.5 million streams here, 2.1 million there, and the song with the most streams is Lose It which has over two and a half million listens. Out of all twelve songs, did you think that one would be sitting in that top spot?
Anthony: That’s actually one of our favourites. It definitely does sound different compared to some of the other tracks on the record. Maybe that’s why enjoy it so much; it’s dark, you can dance to it, and want to have a good time. But there’s other platforms like Spotify where our biggest song is Technicolour Beat and that was kind of out of the blue for us. That was one we never really concentrated on. To have that many plays on their is absolutely mind blowing.
Josephine: It just goes to show that you can never really guess what your listeners will enjoy and what tracks they’ll connect with. We’re surprised and blessed the people are finding their favourite songs. It’s amazing and really cool.
AMBY: The songs use a lot of piano which humanizes the music with the electronic elements. What influenced that direction for you both?
Josephine: That would be my background. I have a very classical background; I grew up playing classical piano and I’ve been taking lessons since the age of five. I love listening to classical music and piano is kind of my way of expressing myself. Anthony conversely grew up with more of a rock background. He’s been in a lot of bands since he was fifteen.
Anthony: I was always in rock bands and then being a producer, my background is mainly in production and making beats. Doing all of that side of it.
Josephine: The electronic side of things. You say the piano humanizes it and that’s really cool that you said that because that’s what we wanted to achieve with these songs. They are electronically pinned productions and they do have cool beats and sounds. At the core of all of them is piano. That totally humanizes it and gives it that emotion that we wanted the songs to have. It’s just a fusion of two totally different backgrounds.
AMBY: All of the songs have you harmonizing or singing in unison which adds this lovely underlining tension and emotion. How did that become such an important part of your music?
Anthony: There is not a part on the record where we don’t sing together. For us, this has kind of become our sound. I think when people think of Oh Wonder, they think of our two voices together and we love having that characteristic that we can always go back to. When we compile all our songs together, we can mix up all of the production, mix up all the songwriting, and tie it all in together. That was a total accident as well. The first song we got out, Body Gold, was the first time we ever wrote a song together. We thought “oh this might be cool to put out a first track and see what it’s like” and then people in reviews and blogs and things were kind of like “their voices sound great together”.
AMBY: Throughout November, you’ll be on your European tour which has you playing shows in France, Belgium, Germany, Norway, and a ton of other cities. I especially enjoyed a recent Tweet of yours where you said “save us an In-N-Out burger will ya?” in regards to Los Angeles.
AMBY and Oh Wonder: [laughs]
AMBY: When the band have some downtime in a city, what do you do for fun? Are you restaurant hunters, sightseers, thrift shoppers?
Josephine: Restaurant hunters first and foremost. We absolutely love food.
Anthony: We generally base our day around food.
Josephine: Every time I get to any city, we basically scout out the best place for brunch or dinner or drinks within the area. Actually, a lot of the time we’ll trek to places an hour away that have got good reviews or people say “you have to go to this place.” That’s kind of what we’ve been doing. In Europe, it’s obviously going to be incredible for that because every single country has such a different cuisine and celebrate different types of food. Were also big runners. We love running.
Anthony: We have to be big runners because of all of the food we eat.
AMBY and Oh Wonder: [laughs]
Josephine: We love running and eating on loop, really.
AMBY: Outside of running, eating, and music, what are some hobbies or interests you both bond over?
Josephine: We don’t really have time for hobbies. It sounds really bad but instead we really focus on things like catching up with our friends and socializing with people and really value the importance of relationships and hanging out with your mates. We love walking around London, we do a little sightseeing, we go to parks, we love museums.
Anthony: Now our hobbies have become our work. We still write our songs for fun.
Josephine: We’re are both avid readers and we both write creatively and were both really into homework at the moment [laughs]. We like going to phone shops and admiring candles and such weird stuff and getting big kicks out of it. Especially here in L.A. where everything so stylish.
AMBY: [laughs] That’s great.
Josephine: We really want to take up pottery at some point when we get some time.
AMBY: I saw on your Twitter account the other day that you give other artists these great shout-outs, the most recent one being to Billie Marten. Because you have a similar taste in music, who else have you been into lately?
Josephine: Oh, so many people!
Anthony: We use Spotify a lot to find new people in playlists, and that’s actually how many people have found us. I was walking around and heard a song by a girl called Odessa, who I’ve never heard of before. She’s quite good and I’m looking into diving into her whole catolog as well.
Josephine: And as you mentioned, Billie Marten as well is amazing. We’re really enjoying Ryn Weaver and Everything Everything.
AMBY: Ah, I love Everything Everything.
Anthony: They’re so good. Their recent album is so good.
AMBY: It’s one of my favourites of the year.
Josephine: It is. We love new music and I think it’s so important as musicians to keep up with new music.
AMBY: I was poking around on your socials, and one thing I really noticed about you two is how humble you are in regards to your success and your fans. To wrap things up, is there anything you’d like to say to everyone who will be reading our interview?
Josephine: Yea, mainly that we’re super grateful for everybody who listens and supports our music. The other thing is to be nice to people, mainly, and the world will be a better place!
Thank you Oh Wonder, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout