Photo courtesy of Oh Wonder
London based group Oh Wonder has a fantastic marketing strategy for their music. It started with smashing track “Body Gold,” with each following release (one on Soundcloud per month) going viral, currently with 24 million streams and counting. Their first album is scheduled to be released September 4th, and their two NYC tour dates at Rough Trade in Williamsburg are already sold out. But when the band gave me a ring I found them to be quite in awe of their success and humbled by years of being freelance musicians. As Josephine said, “To even be talking about plays in the millions is really weird.”
Check out our interview with Oh Wonder below, and learn more about them here.
I wanted to start off by saying that I really loved the story of the pact that you made to each other to stop waiting tables and to start being musicians. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Anthony: So that was a few years ago and we’d started writing together, I think weekly at that point and were like “Wait, we can actually do this properly.”
Josephine: We’d just finished writing and I had a job in a bookshop with a shift that evening. We’d just finished writing a great track together and were really hyped and in the moment. Working in a book shop for a six hour shift in the evening is pretty bad, and Anthony said, “You should just ring up your manager now and tell him you can’t come into work this evening, or the next day or the next day. I’m going to quit and go be a musician.” So we were just really heady and I was like “Fine, I’m going to do it,” rang him up and quit and then had a panic attack about what I was doing. And then we wrote that sign and decided that it was OK because we did have a backup plan that we wanted to do.
Anthony: We felt as though we’d never keep the focus unless we were able to write and practice whenever we wanted.
I think that all artists can relate to that.
Josephine: Once of the scariest things when you’re working freelance is detaching yourself from normal life, stability and security can be terrifying. But the potential once you do it is incredible. And I think that making that jump is actually the hardest thing of all.
You’re London based, so how is the scene here different from what you’ve experienced there?
Anthony: We actually went to a show last night and the differences were just amazing.
Josephine: Mmm yes they were show responsive, they clapped before the set had even started and had so much energy. In England, especially London…
Anthony: It’s not cool to clap.
Josephine: It does feel like they want to look “cool” more than anything, at the show last night the crowd was so encouraging.
So the audience seems more engaged?
Josephine: Definitely, yeah.
Anthony: And our fans here always really reach out to us.
Josephine: They’re always writing to us and expressing that they want to support us in any way that they can, we keep getting emails and they’re like “Hey we want to give you money!” And it’s just a foreign response for us. They’re amazing people.
Anthony: They are!
Josephine: No one in England would ever do that. In America people just seem really generous, they engage and help and that’s lovely.
I’ve heard a lot of musicians from abroad say that American fans are their favorite because they get so into the music.
Anthony: They do and we’re really hoping that when we play our tour dates here in September we get a response like that.
Josephine: You want to feel like your music is reaching and inspiring people.
How did it feel to reach 30 million plays on “Body Gold?” I read that it was only in a matter of months.
Josephine: To even be talking about plays in the millions is really weird, on the first day that we put it out I think we got about 60 plays and we thought that was good. No one knew us so it was like “Ooo 60 people heard our song!” (Laughs) Again, even that we’re talking in the millions now is just so humbling and so bizarre.
So you’re not even paying attention to the number of millions as much as that it’s in the millions?
Anthony: Exactly. To be at that level, we oftentimes just wonder, “How?” You step back every day and just wonder, “What the hell?”
Josephine: It’s so heartwarming the amount of people reaching out and I think that’s been an intensive part the last year. It’s just been overwhelming amount of connection and open communication that also goes into the beauty of social media and the Internet in terms of keeping in touch with your fans. If you embrace it, you can really get a lot back from it.
Anthony: It’s just so cool the way that you can go back and forth with fans online, it is just so cool.
Well social media is just so powerful, you can connect with your fans all over the world in a way that you never could before.
Josephine: Definitely, I mean that’s why we’re visiting out here in New York to begin with! We crossed the pond through the Internet fans.
It sounds like you guys crossed paths a lot before working together.
Anthony: Yeah we met quite a few times, the first time that we met was actually eight years ago.
Josephine: Totally inadvertently though, we didn’t realize that we were at each others shows and eventually we officially met at another gig when someone introduced me to him. Now we work together on a daily and hourly basis. It was a slow burn. It took awhile but we got there! We’d written “Body Gold” like two years ago and we sat on it for a couple of years thinking that it wasn’t the right time and we were doing different things. This whole project has been largely about timing.
Sounds like it was more about longevity than in the moment and that everything was released at just the right time.
Josephine: Definitely, I mean a lot of life is about timing and is absolutely crucial. It’s important to get good at your art before you release it.
It must have been hard being freelance for that long, even though it came together in the end.
Anthony: Yeah it was a struggle in the beginning. This is just different and the responses are getting a lot quicker. We’ve had things in the past that we were really proud of and now we’re taking a step up.
Josephine: And we get to do it together, which is just lovely.