The music industry has undergone a massive transformation in the last twenty years. During that time the industry has moved from cassette tapes to CDs, and then subsequently seen the CD begin to die as a music format. The internet was now providing budding young musicians and producers with greater opportunities to get their music to the masses. One of the bands to best take advantage of this shift in how music was released was London duo, Oh Wonder.
Free from the pressures of a record company imposing strict schedules on them, the duo of Josephine Van der Gucht and Anthony West decided to record and release on Soundcloud a single every month beginning in September 2014. The risks to this method of releasing music were obvious, quickfire releases could leave the band with little time to properly promote the released single before having to move on to the next one, hence resulting in the songs getting lost in the noise of music releases. But the opportunities were also clear and each of the songs released by the duo during this period would reach the top of that months Hype Machine and lead to a sense of excitement developing around the band. The collection of songs would eventually be released as one body of work in September 2015.
It was clear from the start that there was a strong and infectious chemistry between the two musicians at the heart of Oh Wonder, and this is immediately recognisable throughout the record. Both Van der Gucht and West are trying to create music with a common goal and this clarity results in a collection of fifteen expertly crafted tracks that address with a haunting simplicity experiences that are easily relatable to audiences.
This writer was fortunate enough to experience a live performance by the band at last years Electric Picnic festival in Stradbally, Co. Laois. The duo performed to a packed out tent on the Sunday night and their hour long set left all in attendance utterly captivated. The band seemed to enjoy themselves as well.
The duo began writing the follow up to their debut album in April 2016 while still touring said debut album. The band would eventually return to London after this period of touring to finish writing the album. The subsequent album, Ultralife, would eventually be released in July of 2017 after being recorded, produced, and mixed by the band themselves. The lead single off the album would proceed the album at the end of March in 2016, the upbeat and synth driven track, Ultralife. It would successfully generate a sense of anticipation in their fans for what was to come from the band. The band decided to repeat the strategy that they had employed with their previous album and released new singles every fortnight, sometimes including acoustic versions of the songs.
The Ultralife World Tour that would follow would see the band perform in 31 countries across the globe.
Oh Wonder saw an opportunity in the changing landscape of music, and their bravery and innovation has lead to them being one of the most popular bands in Britain, and indeed further afield, at the moment. They stand as proof to all bands that risks in art will be rewarded, this writer for one hopes that they continue to take these risks.