Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht of London-based group Oh Wonder provide a momentary glimpse into their relationship as not only bandmates but also as a strong-willed couple.
Anthony and Josephine, or Josie as Anthony calls her, of Oh Wonder really like each other. Atypical about their story is that their affection and desire to be both bandmates and a couple hasn’t changed in quite some time and it doesn’t seem like it will. That must be the product of, as Josephine puts it, “spending seven years and nearly every day together.” Unlike other bands of previous years, who perhaps contort their relationships to fit a band profile, Oh Wonder is the real deal.
The duo just embarked on an international tour in support of their newest album No One Else Can Wear Your Crown that will take them across Europe and North America. While it’s easy to think about touring as glamorous and exciting, it’s also something that comes with its share of difficulties and what it means for the band. “The commitment it takes to go on tour and sacrifices for your social life,” Josephine explains. That means no more birthday parties or weddings. RSVPing with the dreaded ‘no’ rarely leaves one without a sour taste in the mouth, even if it’s for a good cause – like doing a tour and living out your dreams.
Still, Josephine and Anthony understand that the music industry is as much a business as it is a creative art. Tour dates are scheduled and need to be upheld. Anthony is constantly reminding himself that he should be grateful for their position, even if it means distancing themselves for months from people and places they care about. “We’re living our dream,” he adds. The band knows that missing home is part of the job, but that’s what they signed up for. Normal people call that “professionalism in the workforce” and it’s often a trait that’s hard to come by for musicians and artists. Oh Wonder, though, exudes it.
There’s also the upside of living out your musical dreams. Anthony means it when he describes music as something “we would never force ourselves to do.” There’s that professionalism again. What’s the old saying about loving work means never really working? With the release of their new album, the duo, who hasn’t performed live in over a year, is itching to play new music to a global audience. There’s just something about the face-to-face interactions and intimate moments that only come when you’re performing in front of thousands of concert-goers. In particular, Josephine loves “hearing people’s stories when they connect with the music,” but it’s much more than that.
Travelling and touring is never a monotonous endeavour for Anthony and Josephine like it can be for other artists because they take the good from most places. Their ability to recollect a glimpse of a moment from a particular show is astounding and goes great lengths to prove that the duo actually cares about the people and places they see. In fact, Josephine holds a particularly fond memory of a concert the band did back in Berlin, where the people stood awestruck at their music. “It’s a very tangible acknowledgement,” she says. The thing about Oh Wonder is that memories like this are one of many that they can sit on and revisit when they sit and make more music, or as Anthony describes them as, “songs we just write at home.”
Touring also brings about another facet of the duo’s personality in their passion for exploration. “Josie is very much a city girl,” tells Anthony. “But she’s starting to appreciate the relaxed nature of the wilderness.” Living in London, the group speaks about the immense parks found across the sprawling urban cityscape and how the blend of metropolitan and rustic balances his expectation when he travels. “I think being in both terrains makes you appreciate them differently,” he explains. “We live in London but then being able to go out into the countryside, which is an hour away, is a breath of fresh air.”
Whether it’s the vast acreage of the American National Parks or supercities like Manila and Bangkok, Oh Wonder always find what they’re looking for. The band found the secret concoction for travel and the list doesn’t start with your toiletry kit and favourite socks. For the most part, that revolves with what Josephine describe as not worry about “what you should and shouldn’t be doing.” To coincide with that, she offers another pearl of advice, which is to “say yes to as many things as you can.” Anthony, ever the stoic, offers his driving ambition while on tour as presenting the fans a proper experience. “If I met my favourite singer and he’s a douchebag, I’d be livid.”
The duo also understands that contemporary modes of social media often leave artists with little or no room to hide when they’re in public. They aren’t concerned, though, and it’s because whether they’re walking through Bogotá or napping in London parks, they have nothing to hide. Long gone are the days of privacy for artists, especially on global tours, but Oh Wonder doesn’t care. If it’s possible to disregard Josephine and Anthony’s passions and exploits, it will be evident that they are transparent and honest people. You can hear it in their music and see it on their faces when they look at each other.