It’s an interesting concept. Release one song a month for a year via SoundCloud and see what happens. One would think that, given the amount of music currently floating about on the internet by independent, unsigned artists, it would be easy for content to fade out and not make a scratch on the consciousness on a potential fan base. Enter London duo Oh Wonder.
What began as a way to post a single that didn’t fit other musical projects has now turned into a fully fledged career, with people cottoning on quick to their infectious pop music and helping turn them into an act who is now embarking on larger tours around the globe. Set to appear in Australia for the first time next week as part of the Falls Festival (and then Southbound) tour, Oh Wonder really have had quite the busy year.
“It’s really amazing to think that people had listened so much to the point that we were selling out our first show.” Anthony West laughs. “We booked our first shows off the back of our SoundCloud, just by looking and thinking, ‘Okay – we’re getting this many plays in our top four cities, which are London, Paris, New York and LA. Why don’t we go there?’ We’d never performed a show to anyone and then we get to play to thousands of people, it’s amazing. The power of the internet, it’s absolutely nuts.”
“We had one song called “Body Gold”,” Josephine Vander Gucht adds. “That’s the only song that we had. We were sitting on it for years, not knowing what to do with it, because it didn’t suit either of our projects, we couldn’t pitch it to anyone or give it away. We thought, ‘It’s a good song and we like the song, let’s just sing it, record it and put it out.’ I remember turning around to Anthony and going, ‘Should we just do this again next month?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, let’s just do it every month and see what happens,’. It was so random and there was no expectation; there was no idea to release an album, there was no idea to play shows, that was the last thing on our minds until early this year. We were like, ‘No we’re never going to tour it,’ – it’s almost like we’ve been forced to tour! It’s the best position to be in!”
Since the release of their eponymous debut album in September, Oh Wonder were on the road soon after, developing a live show presence that would be able to match up with the understandable expectation the album release brought with it. Performing their first shows in the US brought the reality of their situation home, as the duo explain, especially ahead of these much-anticipated Australian dates.
“It’s been really special,” Anthony says of their past few months in particular. “Every gig has been amazing, because you get to meet more people. A highlight would be playing in Los Angeles and New York, it’s crazy to think that people over there are listening to us, you know? We’re going back there in a month! Now, we’re coming to Australia to see you guys and that is ridiculous, it’s amazing.”
“My brother lives out in Melbourne,” he continues. “It’ll be cool to play a show to him and his friends! It’s going to be surreal for me and probably even more surreal for him, because it’s on his street and everything. That’s going to be awesome. We really love Australia, we love the atmosphere it has; it’s really beautiful and it’s going to be a nuts feeling playing on the other side of the world!”
As Josephine notes, being able to fully realise the intricacies and nuances of their material live has been a process but Oh Wonder have been able to find a formula that has been working, and still evolving. Incorporating the talents of friends and musicians to bring the bass and percussion has meant less musical elements of the Oh Wonder material has had to be sacrificed and both Josephine and Anthony have been able to further explore the reach of their music outside the studio and rehearsal space.
“Because the music on the record is quite electronic and very minimal,” Josephine explains. “We wanted to maintain that simplicity and the elegance of it, but infuse it with root musicality and a rawness and a realness. As gig goers, we love going to shows ourselves and the best shows we’ve been to are the ones where you’ve got a group of musicians on the stage who are just connecting and creating this energy and are just having a real conversation with the audience. There’s this whole room filled with energy and a realness. It was really important to use that we didn’t just use tracks and a laptop, so we enlisted the help of our bassist and drummer friends and we’re playing piano and guitar. So we infuse loads of musicality into the record, written loads of guitar parts, but also kept it as musical as possible. It was really important to keep that musicality on the record there, live.”
Oh Wonder will be performing the following Australian shows!
December 30th | Falls Festival, LORNE
December 31st | Falls Festival, MARION BAY
January 1st | Falls Festival, BYRON BAY
January 5th | Corner Hotel, MELBOURNE
January 6th | Oxford Art Factory, SYDNEY
January 9th | Southbound Festival, WA