Releasing a track every month for a year, London duo Oh Wonder embark on a thrilling new project.
Oh Wonder are Anthony and Josephine and they seem to be doing things very sensibly. Releasing a song every month for a year to make their album, they’re creating a steady flow of music for their fans to interact with. It’s working in terms of publicity too, having gotten them six consecutive number ones at the top of Hype Machine since their project began. We’re beginning to wonder why all bands don’t do this.
Their latest offering, ‘Technicolour Beat’, has a fuzz of underlying white noise at the start, serving to make the pair’s voices sound crystal clearer and pitch perfect when they come in. The tracks follow in a similar vein so far, with soft vocals, polished timing, impeccable tone and a somewhere between heart-achingly and heart-breakingly emotive quality. We can’t wait to hear the whole thing in one go, in the meantime, we caught up with the pair and talked Shakespeare, Grammys and their inspirations.
Where did the name come from?
We copied your name, chopped off the land and made it our own.
In truth… we love words and language and loved the homonym “Wonder Wander”. We released our first song as “Wonder Wonder”, but a band had a slightly similar name, so we dropped a Wonder and added an Oh. We’re kind of glad that happened because we love the name Oh Wonder – it has such a great energy to it. In the words of Shakespeare himself: ‘O Wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world that has such people in’t!’
What’s the most Wondrous thing about you?
The soles of Anthony’s feet. They’re softer than clouds…
How did you form?
We have been writing songs together for four years, and we were sitting on ‘Body Gold’ for about two years not knowing what to do with it. Last Summer we decided to release it and that was the beginning of Oh Wonder.
What are each of your roles in the duo?
We work together on pretty much every area of the project, and both write, record and mix all of the music ourselves. Josephine usually writes the songs’ chords, and Anthony makes the beats and sounds. But we both chip in ideas on instrumentation, production and mixing. It’s hugely collaborative. We couldn’t do this on our own and that makes us feel really close to the music and retain a lot of respect for each other.
How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it?
Someone else has described our music as ‘Jazz, R&B and electronic acrobatics’. For us, we like to think good songwriting is at the core of our sound.
How do you go about your song a month project, do you work on each song each month or just whenever inspiration comes?
We write and record each song each month. So we spent February writing a few songs, chose ‘Technicolour Beat’ as next month’s track and then spent the last few days recording and mixing it.
Why did you decide to release your music this way?
Initially we wanted to set ourselves a challenge that had concrete deadlines and release dates, not only to push us to make art but also to create an opportunity to actually release the music; putting it out into world is the best feeling ever. However, having witnessed the reaction over the last six months, we have realised how many people are really connecting with the music and are consequently invested in this journey with us. It’s really exciting that our listeners are awaiting the next track as much as we are, it’s a really inclusive project. Everyone has been in on the adventure of us making our album in a very public forum.
What can we expect from a live show from Oh Wonder?
Hopefully great things! We have two extraordinarily talented friends who will be our live drummer and bassist, so the music will hopefully sound like the record but be infused with real people playing real instruments. That’s important to us, we don’t just want to sing to an electronic backing track; we want to actually play the songs and give them a new lease of life in a live context.
Who inspired you both to go into music?
Anthony: I was born into a creative family, and my inspirations have come through the words of my grandfather, my brother and the songwriting of my uncle. My parents have always supported my musical journey since leaving school, and since meeting Josephine my ‘path’ couldn’t have been more concrete.
Josephine: A number of people… my parents, my piano teacher, my friend Piers Partridge, but most of all Anthony. He basically forced me to quit my job, ignore my English Literature degree and write songs for a living.
What is your goal?
I don’t think we have one finite goal; it’s just really important to us to keep making music. We are loving this process, it’s really nourishing and affirming. That said, a Grammy for Best Song wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Oh Wonder’s project culminates with the release of their debut album in September 2015.