How did you discover your favourite band? A cynic would argue that there’s a dearth of contemporary musical innovators, but no one would argue that, in the last 20 years, there’s been a shortage of innovations in how we discover and engage with music. For better or worse, gone are the days of haunting your local record store and rolling the dice with your hard-earned on a single or an album because you’d heard it’s cool or you like the cover.
The internet. Social media. Sharing platforms. Any talentless mouth-breather has the same scope to reach an audience as easily as the next Kurt Cobain or Mazzy Star. The sheer volume of inundation and skewed ratio of talent:shit now means the former is lost in the derivative wasteland of the latter. Worst of all, most people are in it for all the wrong reasons, a means of serving their own brand or misguided sense of self-worth. For Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, aka, Oh Wonder, there’s a much higher purpose driving the music and Gucht clearly looks at it with decidedly less cynicism than yours truly: “For people to be able to just go out, develop music and reach an audience with that kind of immediacy. It’s great. It’s good that things like Soundcloud connects young people who aren’t involved in the music scene and gives them the chance to live their dream.”
Talent, creativity and a bit of luck all seem to be the tent-poles on which platforms like Soundcloud will or won’t be the avenue of your big break. Thankfully, Oh Wonder achieve this holy triumvirate readily. Talking about how their music got into peoples’ hands seems just as pertinent a dialogue as the music itself. For their eponymous debut, they released a track from their album every month before dropping the album in its entirety. Most people would call this out as a strange model, but for Oh Wonder, it clearly helped them build a relationship with their audience: “Creating music can be your own way of helping the world and that’s what we love about it, even the little stories of people that said our music helped them in some way are what makes it special for us.”
Oh Wonder’s first performance in Hong Kong is a very special one. It comes off the back of the duo’s sophomore release, Ultralife, an album that’s winning over critics and fans alike –dreamy and introspective, it’s a fitting reflection of the pairs’ aspirational attitude towards the pursuit of happiness, musical validation and playing live music to adoring masses: “We’re so excited to come to Hong Kong. We’ve never been before so to get to come and do a headline show is amazing, we’ll really be reaching out to the crowd to feel that energy. We’ll be bringing our band, crew, lights, the works. We’ll playing stuff from the first and new album so there’ll a good mix.”
We can’t wait.