“Music is one of the few things in the world that unites people and brings them together. No matter what you believe, no matter who you are or where you come from, everybody can stand in a venue, watch a show, and feel the same thing.” -Josephine Vander Gucht
After watching Oh Wonder perform at Panorama Music Festival (their biggest NYC stage yet), it was easy to the truth behind this statement. From opening song, “Livewire,” to massive hit, “Without You,” to their final track, “Technicolour Beat,” the musical duo’s positive vibes and upbeat melodies had the entire crowd totally entranced. The Untitled Magazine caught up with Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West right after their epic set and chatted all about their latest ventures, how to live the “yes life” and why NYC is the place to be.
Check out the full interview below and be sure to catch Oh Wonder on one of their upcoming live dates.
Untitled Magazine: Congratulations on your first New York festival performance. How does it feel?
Josephine Vander Gucht: It was amazing, it was really cool.
Anthony West: It was great. I always wanted to play a festival here.
UM: You both are so gracious and your performance was incredibly happy, you really spread positivity to the crowd. Everyone around me was in a good mood. I was reading that you have a list of affirmations posted in your studio and one of them is to live the “yes life”. Could you describe what you mean by living the “yes life”?
JG: It’s the idea that anything is within your grasp if you just believe that you can go and do it and just say yes to it. The hardest thing for a lot of people is having the courage and building the faith that you can do anything. Say yes to opportunities and say yes to anything that seems impossible or difficult.
AW: Saying yes opens up a lot of doors, it has for us anyway.
UM: I think in your last video, “Lose It,” you got the dancers to live the “yes life” by surprising them with a whole chorus line of back-up dancers and filming that. Can you explain the process behind that video?
JG: It was so fun to shoot that.
AW: We wanted a video that was very human and showed natural emotions because a lot of music videos have a storyline and acting. We wanted to capture people not being self aware, not self-conscious, just being in the moment. Just being themselves.
JG: That’s what the song is about. It’s about losing it and dancing – to dance like no one’s watching. It’s that kind of sentiment of, “I’m going to let loose and be myself and be weird and it’s okay.” They really harnessed that energy and idea. The dancers thought they were auditioning for a music video and then we turned up and surprised them. It was really cool, really funny.
UM: During your set you also mentioned that you lived in Brooklyn for a couple of months and that you were working on new material there. How did living and writing music in New York compare to London?
AW: From what we’ve written I can hear a real difference. This city has a totally different energy than London. People are crazier here, in a great way.
JG: People in New York are happy to express themselves. Maybe it’s a romanticized view, but one time we took the L train and it went back to Brooklyn instead of over to Manhattan. In England, it would’ve been like “Oh for goodness sake.” But here it was, “What the fuck man, are you kidding!” The whole carriage rocketed. Small things like that make it feel like there’s more of a community here. There’s such a stereotype of New Yorkers being quite rude but we did not experience that at all. People were more like, “This is who I am. I’m cool. You’re cool.”
AW: People get over stuff quickly here. They just let it go. Maybe that’s what our record will be about, letting go.
UM: Could give us any sneak peaks on what your new material is like?
JG: The songs we’ve written discuss a variety of things. Some are influenced by people we’ve seen on the streets and staying at the Wythe Hotel. We were like, “Bloody hell! Who are all of these really rich people?” and then we made a song about really rich people. We’ve written a song about what it’s like to be on tour because touring has its own lifestyle.
AW: We did a song about a homeless dude. You know, all walks of life.
UM: So you’re currently on a North American tour, are there any places that you’re really excited to go to?
JG: We’re playing a couple of New York shows, which I’m really excited about. We’re doing Madison Square Garden in a couple of weeks supporting Halsey – that’s a dream venue! Then we’re coming back to Terminal 5 in October. It’s massive, we saw a show there the other day. It was really a pinch yourself moment, being able to watch a show from the crowd, knowing you’re going to be on that stage soon.
UM: Your music has a really fun sound but you also talk about serious issues, such as globalization and gentrification. Being Londoners, how do you feel about the situation over there right now?
AW: We live near Shoreditch and we’ve been in that place for about six years now. We’re away for 2-3 months at a time and when we come home for 2 days to see our friends there’s more changes – there’s Starbucks, there’s more of those places we never would’ve associated with that place.
JG: Which is a part of the natural progression of a city, I suppose. With touring and being away it’s weird to come back to a city that we’ve written about and thought about and it’s changed so quickly. It’s weird.
AW: It’s like not seeing a friend for years and them changing. It’s like a different life.
UM: Do you think it’s going to be even more different now because of Brexit?
JG: We flew home for one day to vote and it didn’t work in our favor. The following day all of our friends were like, “London is in mourning.” It’s really sad. There’s a real issue with community and people not being united. That’s also why I’m really grateful to be in music, because music is one of the few things in the world that unites people and brings them together. No matter what you believe, no matter who you are or where you come from, everybody can stand in a venue, watch a show, and feel the same thing. I think that’s really important in the midst of this. We’re going to try to express that.
UM: Do you know when you will be releasing new material?
JG: Sooner than you think. I’ll say that for now. We have some plans; we’ll see how we do.
AW: We need to record it all first.
Interview by Jasmine Williams for The Untitled Magazine