In a packed venue full of eager and interactive fans,
Josephine Vander Gucht takes the microphone, looks at her partner Anthony West,
and back to her fans saying, “Listen, you can be an individual and you can be
weird and you can different.” The crowd roars in emotion and agreement and a
soulful song between the two begins.
Meet Oh Wonder. A London based duo, singing smooth and mellow,
R&B influenced synthpop (whose favorite band is none other than Seattle’s Death Cab for Cutie), the two
artists began their career together writing and releasing one single a month at
a time—which eventually turned into the development of a much loved, internet
When asked about how the two first met, both artists look at
each other and chuckle, delving back into their past from years ago. A completely
chance meeting, the two met at a gig Vander Gucht played at in a small venue in
London, with West running lights for her show. One year later, the setting is
reversed and Vander Gucht finds herself at West’s show. Flash forward one more year, and the two finally find
themselves in a studio through a mutual friend and remembrance of their coincidental
The two began writing songs together, and I went over
this in my mind as the starting point. “Is
this where Oh Wonder first started—with
that first songwriting session?” I had to ask.
The two adamantly shake their heads.
“We weren’t looking to perform our songs at all, when we
first started,” Vander Gucht says to me, snuggled up on a dressing room couch. “We
had our own projects at the time.”
“We wrote together, purely as a writing project, as something
to improve our portfolios, to show what sort of work we could write as artists,”
Finally in September 2014, Vander Gucht pushed West towards
putting their work online and the two began to publish one song a month, over
the course of year, the project developing into their now debut album. Soon after that, the two began touring together for the first time.
Having never toured together as combined artists during their
entire songwriting process, Vander Gucht smiles coyly at the mention of that
fact, remarking, “It almost became a joke between us, never playing live—never
wanting to play live.”
“We were only supposed to play 5 shows total, when we resigned
ourselves to playing live at all,” West says, almost chuckling. “5 cities
and that was it, but somehow, it turned into an entire tour.”
Modest, but talented, you almost can’t believe the mindset
the two have about their own music. With millions of streams on both Spotify
and Soundcloud, the two have become an internet sensation. After completely finishing the recording of their
album and setting out on their American tour just a couple months ago, the reaction
across the states toward the artists has been incredible.
“We’ve scheduled a show at a smaller venue at every city on
our tour, but every time, we have to upgrade to a bigger venue!” Vander Gucht
laughs, almost in disbelief.
“We weren’t expecting to sell out so fast, and we actually
told our manager that we didn’t think it would happen,” West adds.
But it did.
And how are they holding up now with the tour and an overwhelming
number of fans at their shows every night, you might ask?
“We always knew people were listening. We just never figured
those streams would translate so tangibly and so effectively into actual people
showing up to your shows,” Vander Gucht says.
“It’s so much more real playing our songs live,” West adds
And it is. Playing their biggest show on their tour thus far,
the two artists of Oh Wonder completely
sell out a packed venue at Neptune
Theatre, with an audience responsive and emotionally engaged in every
single song the two play. The vibe of their music is stripped down and very focused
on lyrical melody, reminiscent of Joni
Mitchell and her guitar. Yet at
the same time, the synthy pop influence in their music gives their album and
live performance a more current feel (think fellow contemporary Jack Garrett), highlighting the perfect
mesh of West’s alto and Vander Gucht’s soprano voices.
When asked about what the two like most about playing their
songs live, both West and Vander Gucht smile and reply, “It’s a completely
different atmosphere, it’s like our songs don’t belong to just us anymore.”
Vander Gucht chimes in, “I love performing ‘Landslide’, it’s
totally different live, and everyone is so good, everyone is singing and there
is just so much energy to it.”
“My favorite to play live is a song we do called ‘All We Do,’”
West replies after thinking about his favorite track to perform. “Live, it’s an
almost therapeutic thing, with the crowd singing it back as loud as they can, because
you know, they’ve all been listening to it online for ages, not being able to
sing it out loud, and live, it’s their first time to be able to sing it out
loud and I’m singing to them and they’re singing back to us and it’s
It’s almost a surreal experience watching the two perform
their songs live, in their first ever Seattle show, because they’re right—it is
incredible. As Josephine and Anthony sing the chorus of “Drive,” a smooth pop
song, layered with their soothing voices and perfectly timed violin, the entire
audience dances and sings in complete harmony. There is an unreal energy between
every person that ties the whole performance together. The soul and depth in
their voices, similar to James Blake
or Ben Howard is unbelievable, contributing to the quality of their stripped down, melody focused music.
“We just started
writing some songs in our bedroom and somehow…we made it to America,” West says.
And somehow…I’m not surprised they did.
completely worth it .