OH WONDER

There is a sign pinned to the wall of Oh Wonder’s recording studio in south-east London, a pact of sorts, signed by the band’s two members, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, in the winter of 2012. It isn’t a checklist or a plan so much as a setting down of shared dreams for their musical careers. “We wrote it to say that we’re dependent on one another,” explains Josephine. “That there are things we want to achieve, and we can help each other get there.”

That Oh Wonder have achieved all of these dreams in the first year since starting the project is testament to their talent and their perseverance, but even they seem a little startled by how much more they have attained: the 100 million streams and now their debut album, a collection of 15 impeccably-crafted songs that explore London and loneliness, love and the need for human relationships.

Josephine was a classically-trained solo performer and Anthony a singer and producer whose lives and careers overlapped for several years — a run of near-encounters and half-conversations at gigs and venues, and vague introductions through musical acquaintances and mutual friends. It was only when they finally sat down in Anthony’s former studio in north London with a view to producing an EP of Josephine‘s solo material that they realised their great musical bond. “We found all our favourite bands were the same bands, all our favourite songs were the same songs,” says Anthony. “It was a day of saying ‘Oh you should listen to this’. And then the other one saying ‘I know that song. That’s one of my favourite songs.’” “It was,” adds Josephine “really, really odd. I’ve never had that. I’ve never felt that closely aligned with someone, musically speaking, and more widely in terms of how we view the world.”

It was Anthony’s suggestion that they begin writing together — purely for fun at first, as an exercise in songwriting and collaboration while they pursued their other musical projects. The first song they wrote was called Body Gold and was, Josephine says, “the marker for what the sound of Oh Wonder was: electronic and somewhat R’n’B, which was totally surprising, and totally different to our solo work, but we were really proud of it.”

Still, for 18 months they did nothing with it. Anthony moved to London and released an EP as part of a duo, Josephine was busy writing and recording as Layla. “But we thought it was a waste to leave Body Gold unheard,” says Anthony. And so they decided to post it on the internet, anonymously.

That day they went to a café in east London, posted the song on SoundCloud and emailed a few of their favourite music blogs about it. “We were in this café,” Josephine remembers, “and we were looking at the play-count, and I think it said six plays, and then all of a sudden these blogs started posting the song — really lovely write-ups saying ‘Who the hell are these people? They’re about to blow up the internet.’” They sat in the café and watched the play count climb to 100. A few weeks later it had reached 100,000 plays. Just over a year later and they have tens of millions of plays and a string of sold out headline shows across the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA. “It was just really, really bizarre. And odd. And completely accidental,” she says. “We didn’t tell anyone it was us, we didn’t ask people to listen, we didn’t tell our friends, it was so far removed from us. But I genuinely think that the reason so many people connected with it was because it was really sincere.”

  • 110 East Main Street
  • Charlottesville, VA 22902

Region: Downtown Mall Area

Located on Charlottesville’s historic Downtown Mall, The Jefferson Theater was established in 1912 as a live performance theater that played host to silent movies, vaudeville acts and a historic list of live performers, ranging from Harry Houdini to The ThreeStooges. The Jefferson reopened on November 27, 2009 after a comprehensive restoration that... more