Oh Wonder on their new album ‘Ultralife’
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Oh Wonder on their new album ‘Ultralife’

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London electro-pop duo Oh Wonder met through their separate musical endeavours. Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West were introduced when West, a producer at the time, was suggested to Vander Gucht to work with her on her solo project.

 “We connected when we started, we found it far easier to write with each other than without. The songs we were writing together were better than the songs we could write on our own, it was quite refreshing,” says West. “I think [Oh Wonder] decided to form us. We released Body Gold and it almost forced us to give it a band name, and 12 months later we played our first show.

“We were just going to play four shows in New York, LA, London and Paris and that year we ended up playing 180 shows. It took us on a ride. We’re constantly trying to catch up with it.”

Vander Gucht and West come from very different musical backgrounds, a factor which Vander Gucht attributes to the pair’s musical compatibility. “Anthony grew up playing in rock bands and then moved into production and producing other bands. He’s a lot weirder in his approach to lyrics and melodies,” she says. “I grew up playing classical piano and come at music through a very theoretical, ‘well this is the right way to do it’ sort of approach.

“When we’re together in a room, generally I’ll just start playing the piano and we’ll both start weirdly singing to each other and meet somewhere in the middle. It’s a very fluid, easy process.”

Oh Wonder has just released Ultralife. The duo both feel that the album is more personal than their self-titled debut and displays a more energetic sound.

“For us, it feels almost like our first album, because the actual first album, Oh Wonder, was conceived and written and released as one song every month over a year, which was amazing creatively. This new album is the first time that I’ve made an actual album,” says Vander Gucht.

“It’s a way more personal album for us. It explores the human rollercoaster of life, which is that some days you wake up and feel like you’re invincible and you can do anything and have loads of friends and you look fantastic and you feel fantastic, versus the kind of moments where you’re completely self-doubting and you feel awful or become incredibly lonely or depressed.

“It’s a way more personal album for us. It explores the human rollercoaster of life, which is that some days you wake up and feel like you’re invincible and you can do anything and have loads of friends and you look fantastic and you feel fantastic, versus the kind of moments where you’re completely self-doubting and you feel awful or become incredibly lonely or depressed.

“It explores touring overall, because touring has both of those things in it. You’re on stage in front of thousands of people, fuelled with adrenaline and feeling incredible and then you go back to the tour bus and you’re microwaving cheese on tortilla chips on your own, watching reruns of Friends. It does try and make sense of that, those complete parallels and complete antithesis of each other, which is what life is, the good and the bad all in one,” she says.

 “Musically, the live shows had a massive effect on Ultralife. The first record is a lot more chilled and then we started playing live and gave it a new sound,” West adds. “When you’re playing festivals and you’ve gone on after another band, you want the energy to remain high. I think with Ultralife, we wrote a load of songs that would fit perfectly at festivals and we could feel comfortable playing them.”

Despite their hectic schedule, Oh Wonder have been spending their rare days off working on a project inspired by the single High On Humans. The project sees the duo calling fans to hear interesting tales of connecting with strangers.

“Our new single High On Humans is written about this really cool interaction I had with strangers on the tube, so we though what better reason to then call strangers ourselves and hear about their random interactions with other people,” says Vander Gucht. “We’ve been Facetiming and Skyping people from all around the world, hearing their stories about human connection. We’ve heard some incredible stories, so that’s been really nice.”