Oh Wonder is an indie-pop duo comprised of Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West. Since their start in 2014, the two have been consistently releasing music and quickly climbing the charts, with their second album “Ultralife” released in July. This Yellowjacket Weekend, Oh Wonder held the big musical spot amid Saturday’s activities. We caught up with them in Douglass before the show.
CT: So, “Ultralife” obviously just came out this summer, is that exciting? Your second sophomore album. So, you guys came out in 2014 with Soundcloud, and you got, like, 100,000 plays in the first three days. Was that shocking, or a lot to take in? Is that something you expected at all?
Anthony: Yeah, it was bizarre, wasn’t it?
J: Yeah, this project has constantly kind of felt like that, where it’s just exceeding our expectations, which is great because everything’s a bonus, which is nuts, but, yeah. And it just kind of kept growing and growing, and then got into the millions, and the tens of millions, and now it’s I don’t know what, but […] yeah, it’s crazy. We’re just like, Who are all these people listening?
A: Yeah, we never expected to play shows, it was just going to be this online project where we just write songs, so to now be on, like, a two-year tour is outrageous.
CT: And at that point, you guys hadn’t played a show, or anything live, right?
J: Right, yeah, we didn’t play for a whole year.
A: We booked in four shows, and we were like, we’re just going to play four shows, and that’ll be us done, let’s get back to writing songs. And now —
J: And now we’re like, 200-something later, “Oh, okay.”
CT: So obviously, after that, you had gone on tour, many shows, would you say that going on tour and playing live has changed how you approach anything? I know this album has a lot more live instrumentation, would you say that’s inspired by touring or shows?
A: Yeah, I mean, massively. We tour with a drummer and a bass player and those are the guys that played on the second album. So, yeah, for us, we wanted to inject all the energy that we have at our shows, and that we have at festivals into one record. Which was really fun to do.
CT: In terms of energy, I feel like “Ultralife” has kind of a disco, alien vibe. Even in the title, “Ultralife,” and I heard the word “outer space” thrown around a couple of times, and you have [the song] “High on Humans.” Did that come from anywhere? Big X-Files fans?
J: [laughs] We’re actually aliens, so.
CT: Oh, okay. Right, that makes sense.
J: I don’t know, it’s all, like […] none of it is conscious, is it?
J: It’s weird […] oh no, we got called out the other day, and a fan had found the word “light,” or references to light in every single one of our songs on our album. Also the last album, but, like, there were so many references to light, and I don’t know if that’s just, we’re really lazy songwriters, like, “Let’s use light as a metaphor,” or if we have —
A: It’s very easy to rhyme with, that’s probably why.
J: You’ve the sun, yeah, it’s cool.
CT: I got one more. If there was one word to summarize Oh Wonder, what would it be? It’s a hard one.
A: [whistles low]
J: Comforting? What? Is that a shitty word?
A: I thought you were a songwriter!
J: Oh, alright! Well, what’s your word then?
A: Um […] I’m gonna go with […] comfort. Without the -ing. Someone once called us, uh, a comfort […] uh, what was it?
J: A musical comfort blanket. That sounds so lame, though, doesn’t it? We’re a blanket. “Oh Wonder, they sound like a blanket.” Sick.
CT: It’s cold up here, so, you know.
A: Yeah, exactly. Everyone needs that.