In today’s hyper-competitive music world, bands have found plenty of ways to stand out from the pack. They can start out totally anonymous, like MSMR or The Neighbourhood. They can use weird name spellings, like Haerts or Alvvays. Or, they can make like Oh Wonder and decide to release a new song every month for an entire year. Comprised of Southeast London residents Anthony and Josephine (no last names necessary for these guys), this boy-girl duo has quietly dropped minimalist pop tracks for past 11 months. It’s still a few months to go until they release their debut album this September, but already they’ve been steadily garnering buzz for tracks like “Landslide” and “Livewire.”
But, despite their immense talent for blissful pop vocals and piano-driven melodies, it’s crazy to think that they still haven’t even performed a live show. You can expect them to bring it big time when they eventually decide to take the stage later this year — but for now, we’re content with Oh Wonder making music their own way. After all, the best things are often worth waiting for.
We quizzed the pair about their unique approach to the business below.
Why do you guys call yourselves Oh Wonder?
We love the word “wonder.” It suggests admiration, beauty, curiosity, surprise, which are all things that we feel about life and making music. It’s important to be curious and inquisitive and marvel at the world around you, and we are still in awe about where music comes from. Writing a song is such a mysterious process — one minute you have a blank canvas, and the next you can have a song. It’s so brilliantly odd.
Was starting out anonymous all part of the plan, or was it coincidental?
In terms of being anonymous, it was somewhat intentional — mainly that we didn’t want the focus of this project to initially be about us as artists. It was conceived as a songwriting project, so we wanted the songs to be at the core of our music. It was about the art, not the artists. Also, we didn’t have any photographs of ourselves!
What first inspired the idea of releasing one song each month for a year?
We wanted to challenge ourselves as songwriters and give ourselves strict deadlines to adhere to. It’s very easy in this industry to write a bunch of songs and spend months or years waiting to release them. We wanted to keep the process of creating and releasing a song really fluid and immediate, to ensure that we actually shared the music we were making and it felt consistently fresh. It’s been an absolute joy making an album in such a public forum and building a following of people that are on this journey with us.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far in terms of your music?
Making music as Oh Wonder has actually been really simple for us. That said, the production side of things has been a real eye-opener. Because we write all the songs at the piano, they stand alone as just piano/vocal tracks, but equally can morph into any kind of genre. So choosing a sound and style for each song has been really interesting. It’s also very easy to get carried away with adding too many instruments and melodic ideas; production is a careful balancing act. The first time we recorded “All We Do” we put so many layers and beats on it — it sounded so cheesy and epic! But we had to get to that point to realize that all it needed was space. Sometimes less is more. That’s been a really valuable lesson.
If you had to describe your debut album in 5 words or less, what would you say?
Out of the blue…
Who’s your dream collaborator?
Chilly Gonzales. He’s the boss.
You haven’t played a show yet, but what can fans expect from your live shows?
We hope to infuse new life and feel into the record. We’ve got a bassist and drummer playing with us (we’ll be playing piano, guitar and a variety of other instruments) so it’s gonna feel really live and exciting. Needless to say, we are incredibly excited about getting on the road and touring this record. It’s going to be really special.
Learn more about Oh Wonder here.