Oh Wonder Feature

After their mellow tone caught the ears of online listeners, the London based songwriting duo finds themselves launched onto an extensive U.S. tour. Having just kicked off their North American tour with a sold out a show at The Casbah, the writing pair eagerly describe their thrilling musical journey to the UCSD Guardian.

On Sept. 1, 2014, Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht uploaded a song titled “Body Gold” to SoundCloud with no expectations for listener response. A handshake agreement to meet every month to record new songs blossomed with the support of a strong audience of thousands of online fans. A thousand hits became millions as Internet listeners uncovered their soft melodies and enticing voices. What was simply two friends writing and playing together soon turned into a monthly schedule as their cyber fanbase awaited the first of every month for the new Oh Wonder track. Now with 65 million hits on Spotify, and a full-fledged album of their compiled singles, Oh Wonder embarks on their first U.S. tour with the unrestrained excitement and youthful exuberance of an up-and-coming artist on the road.

After casually recording together, they quickly noticed the fluidity and ease with which their creativity collided.

“We just immediately clicked,” West explained to the UCSD Guardian. “We had a lot of the same musical interests and as soon as we wrote our first song, we were like, ‘Oh this is quite simple.’ We wrote a better song than we could write on our own and we still do. It feels like there’s just one person.”

The musical pair handled early career decisions with a carefree and nonchalant attitude, shrugging their way through life-altering questions with astonishment at their levels of success.

“It was so impulsive,” West and Vander Gucht laughed. “We uploaded ‘Body Gold’ and said, ‘Should we do this every month?’ and we shook hands on it. That was kind of it, we didn’t think about the consequences. Touring was like, ‘Should we tour?’”

Similar responses arose in the face of legal issues which forced the duo to seek inspiration for a new band name. Originally labeled as Wonder Wonder, the band found themselves stuck with little time and no new ideas.

“It was Oct. 31, Halloween,” Vander Gucht said.  “We were dressed up as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, on our way to a house party. We’d been thinking all day of the most awful names and suddenly we were just, ‘oh … wonder …’ Let’s do it! We loved the name, its dual meaning of being inquisitive and also an admiration of beauty.”

Photo courtesy of Andrew George
Photo courtesy of Andrew George

Oh Wonder’s music captures a delicate beauty: They layer their voices alongside gentle piano and simple, addictive electronic riffs. By perfectly balancing their catchy, pop vocal riffs with an alternative instrumental sound, they strut in between genres and confound listeners attempting to pigeonhole their style into a single genre. They have mastered a pleasant and comforting vibe, clearly present in “All We Do” and “The Rain,” while simultaneously featuring up-tempo hooks and beat drops; they stimulate dance parties in the audience while inviting them to sit down to a cup of coffee.

The two musical partners recently celebrated the overarching message of the album with matching “Heart Hope” tattoos, finding inspiration in the lyrics of the penultimate song on the record.

“The context of that song sums up the whole album for us,” Vander Gucht told the Guardian. “Heart Hope is a metaphor that we’ve created to mean love, community, support for people, music as a comfort blanket. It’s a constant reminder of why we make music.”

Passion and symbolism reverberate throughout their lyrics as they spread messages of compassion and connectivity. For example, “All We Do,” a slower, minimalist piano ballad uses elegant repetition of simple phrases and instrumental melodies to express individualism.

“You’ve seen the world in a different way than everyone else in the world,” Vander Gucht described. “That’s something to be celebrated. It’s better to live your own life than exist among everyone else’s. If you flip yourself upside down and be different to everyone else you’ll find paradise on the because you’ll be happy doing your own thing.”

The songwriters radiate a bright and innocent enthusiasm, which has captivated the hearts of millions online across the globe. They have traveled across four continents, playing in Australia and eventually finding themselves at a sold-out show at The Casbah in San Diego. Standing on the stage for just over one hour, Oh Wonder brought the room to its feet in a dancing frenzy, slowed down for softer, hopeful tracks and captivated the crowd with their friendly and addictive personalities. After 100 hours in planes and 40 hours in airports, by their estimates, they now hit the road in their first tour bus on their North American debut tour. Oh Wonder’s popularity continues to expand as their music emanates from laptop speakers, enveloping the world in a “comfort blanket” of love and hope.