We only ever booked four shows. That’s all we were ever going to do,” laughs Oh Wonder’s Josephine Vander Gucht. But here we are, countless shows later, and ten months into a world tour. The duo, Anthony West and Josephine, built their debut album one single at a time and only played live once the seventeen tracks were done. It’s been a hell of a journey.
How has playing live changed the songs meaning?
Anthony: They give me different memories now.
Josephine: I listened back to the album the other day, just out of interest and it’s so different. It’s go so much more energy live. The record just feels so contained, in an intimate way and you get used to the songs in a different setting. They’ve evolved into this whole new thing over a year.
Do you think playing live will impact what you do next?
Anthony: Production wise, it’ll definitely have an impact on how we approach the recording process. There’ll definitely be a more human element to it. The two musicians we’ve had on stage with us have inspired us to have live drums and bass. It’s just got a bit more groove and feeling when someone’s playing the beats
Josephine: I just want to write songs we can jump around to. Playing festivals makes you want to dance.
Have you started thinking about album two yet?
Josephine: We’ve started writing tentatively. We’ve got a bunch of songs. We have a few weeks off at the end of August, so we’ll going to try and finish it then, back home in London.
Anthony: I feel like we’ve written all the slow songs, we need to write some more upbeat ones.
Your debut was made up of songs that were written and released, one month at a time, are you going to be doing that again?
Anthony: We’re definitely going to write and record it as a record this time which is a really exciting process for us, because we haven’t done that yet.
Josephine: Yeah, I’ve never written an album, I’ve just written a series of songs. It would be good to get perspective and see that we’ve got all these slow jams, now we need a couple of upbeat ones, a ballad and a rap track.
Anthony: We want to be creative with how we release it though. We don’t want to be traditional in that sense because I think the music world is changing. People consume music differently.
Before that, you’ve still got some touring to do. What do you want people to take from an Oh Wonder live show?
Anthony: We see a lot of smiles, which is nice. People don’t know what to expect when they come to our show, I guess. They hear the record and it’s electronic but we’re both musicians and we wanted to have that musical element on the stage. I hope people feel energised by that.
Josephine: And also know that I can’t dance but I’m just moving because I’m loving it. I can’t dance but I hope that people take away that it’s okay to be yourself, be a bit weird and not be cool. We’re actually pretty uncool. If you’re open and warm, people don’t feel vulnerable and get involved as well. That’s the beauty of live music so I hope we can curate a space for that.
You’ve been around the world playing live and seeing people’s reaction to your music, has that changed how you view the band?
Josephine: This band is an entity. It is big. It’s a being, it’s a live living human that we’re part of and it does feel bigger than us in a nice way. The fact we’ve been very international from the bat is remarkable and does feel like there’s this little community of people around the world who listen to our music. It’s just very human. We’re getting a sense of the overall power of music and its potential to really change people’s lives. Art is one of the few things that brings everyone, regardless of background, together. We’re having a conversation with those people and it’s just so unifying and freeing. Art and culture for that reason should be the force that changes the world. I think it has the power to move people in the right direction and make a change, more than anything. Literature, theatre, music all of that stuff is imperative and we’re very fortunate to be a part of it.
And what’s next for the band?
Josephine: 3rd November, we get home from tour. I’ve got it in my head. I’m going to go home, make some scrambled eggs on toast with avocado, chili flakes and lime, and then we’re going to write an album.
Anthony: Well, we’re going to make an album. Hopefully it’ll be written by then or we’re behind.
Oh Wonder play the Roundhouse in London on 13th September.