Months before their new album was out, indieberlin met the two lovely musicians forming the band Oh Wonder, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West. ‘No one else can wear your crown’ was out on the 7th of February and we couldn’t be happier to finally be able to share its goodness with you. Composed, recorded and produced in their London home, the album is a touching and musically impressive introspective of the two talented beings lives and experiences.
Courtesy of the very generous people at Universal, we were also lucky to attend a private, intimate acoustic show from Oh Wonder. They happily performed Hallelujah, Better Now, All we do (from their previous album), Happy and I wish I never met you. Josephine and Anthony candidly shared many warming and touching memories that inspired their new songs.
Better now carries a heavy personal meaning concerning Josephine’s family, but don’t worry, there’s a happy ending. Josephine’s brother and sister in law were having their baby while she and Anthony were away. It was late at night when they received a call about the birth being more complicated than expected and actually dangerous for the mother and baby. As they weren’t there, they did what they do best: write a song about it. They grab their piano and start composing Better now, singing it through the phone to Josephine’s brother to soothe him and bring him comfort. We couldn’t imagine going through this situation but listening to Better now, we can all relate to its lyrics, reflecting the hope and joy radiating through very difficult moments.
Another anecdote that the band shared with us, was the meaning behind the song Nebraska. Oh Wonder travelled the world, singing their infamous tunes and making people happy through their charismatic and joyful presence, but they actually never were invited to perform in Nebraska as it is implied with the song. They then named the last song of the album Nebraska, hoping it would make a change. We surely hope Nebraska will notice them, while we wait for that, we shall enjoy the song with our heart as well as the whole album.
For this new album, did you have a particular intention artistically, or was the process of making it very natural ?
For this album we really to start on a clean slate and only write new songs about how we are feeling at the moment. So all these songs were written this year after we got back from a four-year long world tour. We got a new house in London and build this studio at the end of the garden and we basically wrote all the songs in our living room and recorded them in our studio. It was all made in our super cosy house, it’s a very personal and intimate album. The songs feel more like an extension of us, it definitely was an amazing process of writing and producing.
Do you guys write everything together, how does that articulate itself ?
We write everything ourselves at the piano and then when we’re happy with the song we bring it to the studio. When we go on tour we have a band with us which is very fun, it brings more life to the songs as well.
You guys always have the best music videos, what are the upcoming videos for this album ?
Oh really good question! We actually just finished and watched one. But we have two that have been made that we are very excited about. There’s one we did for our new single called « I wish I never met you » and it’s very very cool. The other one is so good! We were transformed into the older version of ourselves, and we are like 80 years old in the video. We had to go through 6 to 8 hours of makeup, and it was very weird to look at each other. But it was really fun! It was for the song “Happy”.
Did you participate to the writing and directing of the video ?
So it’s a guy we collaborated with a lot. He’s amazing, he really is a visionary. He directed a lot of the videos from our first album. And we came to him with this idea and narrative about us wanting to be solo artists and he came up with this incredible idea, the video really is a short film, he worked very hard on the scenario and this whole concept!
How would you say this album is different from your previous ones ?
I think we’ve opened up a lot more for this album. For the previous ones, we wrote a lot about other people. Whether it was real life people we knew or characters and stories we would make up. And I think this album is much more about our stories and our lives. Which has been a cool therapeutic process. It’s really about us reflecting on the crazy adventure we’ve been on. This is what this album is. It sounds a lot different as well because it’s all made in our house, it’s the first album we’ve made at home. It feels a lot more intimate and honest.
You have an amazing energy on stage, is there something that you prefer between stage and studio ?
I think the difference really is adrenaline. They are both very fun. They just make you feel completely different things. When we were in our home studio, we would start the day with nothing and end it with a song, which is insane but on tour even if you are always doing the same things and singing the same songs, every show is different. Tour is a bit more structured and it’s not really creative, you’re not making anything you’re just performing which is great but it’s completely different. We love both and we need both. And you get to travel the world which is insane, it’s a blessing.
Your world tour starts on the 3rd of March, are there countries that you haven’t been to yet or that you are particularly excited for ?
We’ve been to all of the countries on that tour before. It’s always great to go back somewhere though. Like in Berlin we know where to get good coffee because we’ve been here already. And places like Amsterdam we’ve been a lot too as well. The first time we started our tour was actually in Amsterdam. It’s nice to feel a little bit local.
How would you describe your audience ?
I guess, maybe it’s the same for all artists, but at our shows there is such a community. I feel like live music in general is so incredible for bringing people together and people from all backgrounds and views. Everybody in that moment is celebrating the same thing which is amazing. There are so many of our fans that met in the front row or because they have queued up all day in Boston for example. And to watch that happen is amazing!
Are you guys obsessed with a specific musician or band right now ?
Josephine: I’m obsessed with a band called Dizzy. They are Canadian and have an amazing brand new album called Baby Teeth. They are actually coming on tour with us so we are so excited that we get to watch it live every night, I feel like we asked them to come on tour for our own pleasure because we love them so much.
Anthony: I’m really into Jordan Rakei, he’s Australian but he lives in London, he’s amazing! He actually lives very close to us and he just made a very great record. His album Origins is incredible!
Have you performed the songs on your new album already ?
Once in Singapour and once in London, and it felt so good to be performing new songs, it’s like a breathe of fresh air. We love performing Hallelujah but we’re just so excited to perform them all and see the response of our audience.
Josephine truthfully add to beautifully finish the interview: “The only thing I’d like to say is the album’s title is No one else can wear your crown which I would like to say is about the importance of accepting yourself and all of your glory and your faults. The album and the title is about the importance to accept we are human and we make mistakes, we’re not great all the time and we wanted it to be a message of comfort for anybody that feels like tearing themselves down.”
Follow Oh Wonder on Instagram and listen to their heartfelt album on Spotify
Photo credit: Olga De la Iglesias