Some bands start out slowly, tinkering with their sound, struggling to create a body of work worth sharing with the world. Oh Wonder took a different approach. Two musicians kicking around the London scene in their own projects met and teamed up for a collaboration. When that seemed to click, they launched a project of releasing a new song online each month for an entire year, gaining social media attention and fans with each new track.
Before long, the duo, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, self-released a full album and then—despite never originally intending to play a single live concert—hit the touring circuit, even landing on this year’s Coachella lineup.
Now they’ve released a second record, Ultralife (watch the video below, filmed all around L.A.), and they’re back for a headlining gig in L.A. at the Shrine on October 18. Before the show, we caught up with the pair for a peek at life on the road, and what they’re looking forward to on their brief Los Angeles stop.
They answered each question of this email interview together.
What inspired you to undertake the project of releasing a song every month?
We relished the process of writing, recording and releasing songs so much that we gave ourselves a challenge to do it every month. It inadvertently gave us structure, built creative momentum, and it meant our listeners were also a small part of the album-making process.
What have these last couple of years of touring and acclaim taught you?
That anything is possible if you believe in yourself enough and work hard for it. That being a touring musician is more difficult than it appears. That your friends and family mean more than anything else in the world. That attention is flattering, but must be debilitating if you’re properly “famous.” That music has the power to change the world.
How did your approach or process evolve when you went to make this new record, compared to what you’ve produced previously?
We’d been on the road for a couple of years playing our songs with a live bassist and drummer, and this re-interpretation of our chilled music to energetic live pop made us want to infuse more musicality into the new record and try to capture that live energy. We therefore recorded a lot of the new songs live using analog instruments, with the four of us playing together in the studio.
You’ve taken inspiration from films like True Romance for your videos in the past. Are there any movies you’ve seen recently that could inspire a future music video?
The new Blade Runner? Kidding! That would be a dark and confusing music video.
Do you have any favorite spots you love to visit when you’re in Los Angeles?
We always head to Silverlake Ramen. It was one of the first meals we ever had in L.A., and it brings us so much comfort and joy. That neighborhood generally is pretty great. And of course, we always get our açaí bowl and juice fix.
What do you hope fans will experience when they come out to see your show?
Our live show is all about energy, passion and community, and we hope that everyone leaves our show feeling empowered, comforted or inspired. We’re bringing our new lights to The Shrine so hopefully it’ll be dazzling!
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.