FAULT catches up with Oh Wonder upon the release of their sophomore album

In just three years, songwriting duo Oh Wonder – made up of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West – have gone from a self-releasing online sensation to an internationally-touring band signed to Republic Records with over 4.5million monthly listeners on Spotify. Now, they’re back a year later with their bedazzling 12-track sophomore album, ‘Ultralife’. We caught up with the duo to talk about their evolution since their self-titled first album, staying grounded, emotional music, and weird fan experiences.

 

What was the inspiration behind your new album, ‘Ultralife’?

Josephine: We’ve been touring constantly for the best part of two years, which has been incredible because when we started with this band, we just conceived it as a writing project, it was never going to be an internationally touring thing! ‘Ultralife’ is totally inspired by that shift in living and the new routine we have, which is just bizarre. You’re away from everything you know all the time. A constant adventure.

 

How do you feel you have evolved musically since your self-titled last album was released?

Anthony: Being on the road, we’ve played with musicians on stage and it made us feel we really needed to convey that on the record track.

Josephine: We brought our live band into the studio – our bassist and our drummer – and they’re all over the record. So much of the record is live takes of the four of us jamming. We hope that we’ve injected a lot more of the raw, live energy that really comes to life at things like festivals.

Anthony: The first record was very mellow so this time we wanted to give it more life.

 

 

What is your creative process when writing songs?

Josephine: It’s totally equal and collaborative. Typically we do write at a piano and we both come forward with ideas. We never go into a space where it’s like: “I’ve written this song, what do you reckon?” We would never do that because we want to conceive everything completely together.

 

How do you stay grounded with your increasing international fame?

Anthony: Trying to have a sense of normality about your life is the hardest bit.

Josephine:  Our friends are really good at that. None of them really care that we make music. You get home and they’re like, ‘You’ve been away? Cool’ [laughs].

Anthony: We take our friends on tour as well to keep us grounded.

Josephine: Fame as a concept is not something that really appeals to us. I’d hate to be famous. You have to just constantly remind yourself that five years ago when we were playing to like six people a night in Birmingham – that in itself is amazing. To have six people come out to watch you in Birmingham is as amazing as having 3,000 people come out to watch you in San Francisco. You lose perspective really easily when in Kuala Lumpur you’re like, ‘We’ve only sold 3,000 tickets; it’s a 4,000 cap room!’ You just have to stop yourself and be like: this is amazing. Whatever level you’re at in life, it’s just about gratitude.

 

What is your favourite song to play live?

Anthony: Our song Heavy – we’ve only played it live once – we put it together last week to put on stage. We don’t really have to do anything as on the record, that song is literally just a live take of us playing.

Josephine: It’s just got such a groove! I’m just really annoyed that I have to play an instrument when I just wanna dance!

 

What was the first song you played live together?

Both: Livewire!

Anthony: It was at our first show in London in 2015. It was the first song we played and we were so nervous!

Josephine: We’d been practising for ages, trying to sing completely in unison. It wasn’t natural; it was all very robotic.

Anthony: Probably the best show we’ve played! We’ve let it slip a bit since then [laughs].

 

What song makes you cry?

Josephine: So many!

Anthony: Probably Still – The Cinematic Orchestra. Brothers on a Hotel Bed by Death Cab [For Cutie].

Josephine: I got a text from my brother the other day, who’s in Madrid currently, saying that Castle on a Hill by Ed Sheeran is his new favourite jam and when I hear it to think of him. I heard it on the radio and just because my brother has sent me this note and he was so far away, I found myself welling up in the car!

 

What song always make you feel happy?

Anthony: Mine would be Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi. It’s the morning tune isn’t it? Perfect to make pancakes to.

Josephine: Mine would be Phoenix – Listomania. Big tune. Great driving tune.

 

 

What is the weirdest fan experience you’ve had?

Josephine: There’s so many! We get a lot of people asking us to write our names on a piece of paper, then the next morning we’ll check Instagram and it’s been tattooed on them! We’ve been given loads of weird gifts like shark’s teeth that someone found at the bottom of the ocean. We’ve been given little figurines that someone’s made of us.

Anthony: Lots of paintings. Fans are like, ‘Take them home!’ and we’re like, ‘We’re getting on a flight!’ [laughs]

Josephine: We get a lot of proposals. The weirdest fan proposal we’ve had was in Brighton –

Anthony: Not proposals to us – between fans.

Josephine: He [the fan] wanted us to be there in this room whilst he proposed to his girlfriend. It was a bit odd because we came down and she was like: “Oh hello!” and he was like: “I’ve got a question to ask you,” and then she kind of said yes and then they were like, “Ok, well bye!” We just thought, why are we here? Do they want a photo? They were like, “No” [laughs].

 

What is your FAULT?

Anthony: Mine would be tanning [he reveals his burnt arms from a recent holiday and laughs]. Practice would be mine. I would be a lot better at stuff if I practised more. I always do things to a level and then I’m like, let’s move on to something else. Attention span. That’s why I’ve signed up to marathons.

Josephine: You’re trying to do the Great Wall of China. It’s hard to walk, let alone run!

Anthony: There’s a chunk of it – 26.2 miles – but there’s 15,000 steps involved. And I’ve got terrible knees.

Josephine: I am very stubborn. If things don’t go my way I don’t like it very much. I’m a bit of a control freak. Everything that you see that is Oh Wonder related has come from us.

Anthony: That’s also the secret to your success as well.

 

Oh Wonder’s sophomore album ‘Ultralife’ is out now. Find it on Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes.

Words Aimee Phillips

Photography Annick Wolfers 

FAULT Future: Sody making the most of her ‘youth’

 

Listening to Sody, it’s easy to forget how young she is in her career and life. At just 15, her vocal range and power is just as brilliant as performers many years her senior. Gaining great acclaim from her single entitled Sorry, last month we were treated to a new collaboration with Martin Luke Brown entitled ‘Wasted Youth’. FAULT sat down with Sody to find out more about her artistry, history and bright, bright future.

Has singing always been the dream? 

Yes, absolutely!

 

‘Wasted Youth’ has been on repeat in the office all day! How did the collaboration with Martin Luke Brown come about?

I was at the Reading festival last year and stumbled into a tent for his set. I thought he was amazing and asked my manager to reach out for a session. ‘Sorry’, my first single, was born from our first ever writing session and then ‘Wasted Youth’ followed! He’s my big bro AND bestie!

 

‘Sorry’ is such a powerful song with a huge vocal. Do you prefer punchy belters to the more stripped back tracks?

Everything starts stripped back for me. I write using piano so it’s always fun to build it. I love to get lost in a track I can really push myself on. Sometimes the challenge is more intense and exciting when you do a  track  stripped back for live as you feel more exposed. I think both elements should always make up any album or live show.

 

You’re at such a young age but you’re singing about love and other quite mature themes, do you ever feel a disconnect between your personal life and the themes of your music?

I’ve grown up with 5 older siblings, so when I wrote my first song at 10 it was definitely inspired by the life of others. Growing up in that environment has influenced my maturity levels and how I see the world. Now I do write most of my songs from personal experiences but if you are writing with others, a little of their experience can wash over the song too.

 

What can people expect to hear from your EP?

A small piece of my soul cushioned by bass, beats and synths! Gritty, dark, unapologetic pop?

 

What other musicians are you listening to at the moment?

Oh Wonder and Aurora. 

 

Biggest inspiration?

Definitely Ed Sheeran because I love how instantly recognisable his song’s are and how unique his tone is. On a more alternative side, I think Jack Garratt is pushing musical boundaries and his live shows are just on point plus he has the best laugh.

 

What do you have planned for the rest of 2016?

Writing, Gigs, Festivals, Friends, Food and FUN!

 

What is your FAULT? 

Clothes all over the floor… and leaving lids off EVERYTHING!

 

Sody’s EP is out now