Arts

Pop duo Oh Wonder head for Belfast and Dublin as part of their unofficial ‘world tour'

Oh Wonder are one of this year's biggest success stories, selling out tours across the world despite only playing their first gig six months ago. Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West speak to Brian Campbell ahead of two Irish gigs this weekend

Oh Wonder play Belfast tomorrow

ELECTRO-POP duo Oh Wonder only played their first gig last September – but in a few short months they have sold out tours in the UK, Europe, America and Australia – and even played a festival in The Philippines.

The London-based pair – Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West – say it was a pleasant surprise to realise they had a fanbase in southeast Asia.

“We were very surprised to be offered a festival out there and even more surprised when we got there and everyone knew who we were,” says Anthony.

“It was amazing,” adds Josephine. “We played to about 9,000 people who all knew the words to our songs.

"They were like `Why are you in the Philippines?’ and we were like `We have no idea!’ It was awesome. It’s a beautiful country. I called my mum and said `Mum, I’m famous in Manila!’"

The Oh Wonder story goes back to September 2014, when the duo challenged themselves to release one track a month for a year, putting each track online on SoundCloud.

The tracks went down so well that they received about 90 million views and streams across SoundCloud, Spotify and YouTube.

It’s easy to understand why the band’s winning mix of indie/electro/R&B and balladry has gone across so well, and the sound of two of their big influences – Death Cab For Cutie and Frank Ocean – certainly comes across in many of their songs.

They have so many great tunes, among them Landslide, Live Wire, White Blood, Body Gold and Without You.

They played two gigs in London after the 15-track self-titled album came out last September and have been selling out gigs ever since.

“It’s been really amazing so far,” says Anthony. “We’ve been super lucky that most of the gigs have sold out. We still have that fear that when we get on stage there’ll be no-one watching.”

Josephine agrees with that sentiment. “We played so many gigs at the start where you’re playing to your mum, the promoter and the sound guy.

"So even when a show has sold out, we still peer out from behind the curtain and go `There are people here!’ and it’s so exciting. We now seem to find ourselves on a world tour. It’s nuts.”

Oh Wonder play Belfast and Dublin this weekend, before another run of British dates and a tour of Canada and the US.

“I’m excited about playing in Ireland,” says Josephine.

“I’ve been to Dublin once – for 24 hours – so I did the Guinness tour.”

“I’ve been over many times, because my grandma’s from Co Waterford. I love it there,” says Anthony.

The pair say Landslide and Technicolour Beat are two songs that always go down really well live. Later this year they will play the 2,000-capacity Wiltern venue in Los Angeles and the 3,000-capacity Terminal 5 in New York.

“Those are quite a big deal. We’re a bit nervous, but we’ve got a few months to get good,” laughs Josephine.

They will also go to New York in April for a month to try and start writing the second album.

Oh Wonder are very active on social media and posted a message on Twitter last month to speak out about the “misogynistic and unkind comments” many female musicians are subjected to online and the “tragic condemning of Kesha” after the American singer took legal action to request getting released from a recording contract with producer Dr Luke, a man she claims physically and sexually assaulted her.

And, while Josephine hits out at the “disgusting and belittling” things that are posted online, she says that she and Anthony have been lucky to have only received “wonderful comments”.

“I guess a symptom of getting bigger is that you’re open to more people being mean,” she says.

“But hopefully the more we can create an atmosphere of positivity and support, the better things will be.”

Oh Wonder play The Limelight in Belfast tomorrow night. Doors 7pm, tickets £12. The self-titled debut album is out now (ohwondermusic.com) and the single Lose It is out on March 25.

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