When it comes to pop music, the over-saturation of the same sounds, lyrical melodies and pulsing beats can cause certain artists to get lost in the ether. It takes artists with great talent, charm and realised identity to be able to distinguish themselves from their peers. This is why the idiosyncratic Oh Wonder remains London’s most celebrated breath of fresh air.
Ever since their debut in 2015 with their self-titled album, Oh Wonder has been making waves in the pop industry. At first, they were the more charming and upbeat version of the elusive The XX. Then, they found their sound and transformed into the loveable, talented duo they are now.
Recently, they released No One Else Can Wear Your Crown amidst the global pandemic and JUICE had the opportunity to delve into their process behind the album during our online chat with the pair, Josephine and Anthony.
Oh Wonder’s new baby, No One Else Can Wear Your Crown, depicts the duo in their most mature state with songs that are poignant, uplifting and the right amount of melancholic. Made up of 10 tracks, they all synchronise into a personal snapshot of what it feels like to be alive, dealing with bouts of both sadness and joy.
Starting off the record perfectly, ‘Dust’, begins with the titular lyrics “no one else can wear your crown” before shaping into a calm yet powerful anthem for self-love and empowerment. A few tracks on the record have this buoyant energy and it all comes from Josephine’s newfound love and recognition for her own talent and artistry.
‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Happy’ both share messages of defying obstacles, being content with who you are and finding happiness in the now rather than apprehensively waiting for what the future holds.
Of course, as mentioned before, No One Else Can Wear Your Crown, is the closest representation of their lives and their love for each other thus far. With deeply personal songs in their repertoire, you can’t help but feel as if they’re holding your hand as you journey through their overcoming of heartbreak and change.
The tracks that perfectly encapsulate these emotions are the soft and chilling ‘Nebraska’, the letter to Josephine’s ex ‘I Wish I Never Met You’, the endearingly romantic ‘Nothing But You’, the trepidatious yet exciting ‘Drunk On You’, the calming ‘How It Goes’ and finally, the very personal ‘In And Out Of Love’. Listen to the songs below:
During the interview, JUICE asked the duo on how they managed to navigate through sadness and turn it into something beautiful, since most of us process our sadness by crying and possibly emptying a tub of ice-cream. At first, they seemed stumped but then Anthony candidly replied,
“Recently, we don’t really know what we’re writing about until we’re halfway through the song, which means we’ve got something to say, we just don’t know what it is.”
Josephine jumped in and said, “Accepting that you’re sad is a massive thing and it’s the biggest stumbling block to people. Not getting over it, because I don’t think the intention is to get over sadness. We’re just very willing and happy to go, ‘Oh man, I’m really sad! I’ve got this feeling of heartbreak or loss or pain or whatever,’ and when you just accept that for a moment and embrace it, which is really scary to do and for us it’s writing a song, that’s how [you can] swim through it.
“When you realise that at the end of sadness comes happiness, it’s a binary thing. The only reason we know what it is to be sad is because we know what it is to be happy. So, for us, [we’ve] got to embrace the joy as much as [we] embrace the sadness and realise that they’re both so fleeting.
“It’s not gonna last forever, I’m not gonna be happy forever but today is a good day. And the next day you might wake up and be in a pile of misery, but that’s okay because you know, you have the capacity to be happy so it keeps you going and I guess that’s what a lot of the album [is about], knowing that there are ups and downs [which is perfectly encapsulated in the song] ‘How It Goes’. Don’t try and ignore the sadness. Just say ‘F*ck it, I’m sad!” and hopefully the next day, you’ll be happy again.”
With an album so personal and unique to the singers’ experiences, especially with the song ‘Better Now’ that details the anxious wait at the hospital lobby during a difficult childbirth, JUICE asked the couple how it felt to share the album with the world, whether or not it was cathartic or completely nerve-wracking.
Anthony began by saying, “I think it’s quite powerful knowing that most people have probably been through a similar situation. So, when [we’re] putting it out, [we] know it has the potential to help people through that situation.”
Josephine added, “Communal experience is really comforting, right? So, it’s almost like us with our arms out like, ‘We really need a hug right now because this really sad thing happened’ and people responding with ‘Oh, I’ve gone through the same thing and this song means a lot to me’. It also helps us because they’re reciprocating and also giving us a hug because we’re in this together.
“It’s cathartic because it helps us as much as we hope it helps other people, it’s like a two-way [street]. That’s the most powerful thing about music is that you can share experiences through songs… It’s insane! It’s so cool.
“I’ll admit, I was a little bit nervous because some of the songs we wrote about our relationship or my ex-boyfriends was a bit like *cringe* I don’t want people to know this stuff about me, but in the long run, it’s a good thing.”
As a parting message, Oh Wonder said that they’re letting us know that we’re in charge of the way others perceive us but most importantly, how we perceive ourselves. Admitting our talent and our power is the catalyst towards realising our truest potential.
As for the duo, it seems like more great things are to come as long as they continue staying true to their charm and fresh, infectious sound.
For more interviews, check out JUICE.