We catch up with Josephine and Anthony Vander West as they near the close of 22 Break’s chapter
Oh Wonder, much like all of us, has had a pandemic experience one can only describe as “momentous.” But as the world shut its doors and forced everyone to turn inward, the duo, composed of Josephine and Anthony Vander West, did too. They nearly broke up, made their relationship work, sealed the deal with marriage and built Nola together. Through it all, they continued to write music and even shared the most complicated parts of their journey with 22 Break—the first of a double album with 22 Make.
Let’s backtrack to 2019 when Josephine and Anthony were promoting No One Else Can Wear Your Crown. After a two-day fan meet in Manila, the two took a trip to Boracay that changed their lives forever as the couple got engaged in a scenic resort. Even if the two spent their first 24 hours as fiancés sick—a tidbit they shared to the crowd in their show at the Filinvest Tent—the two were over the moon at the prospect of coming back here. If anything, this short reel is the evidence:
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Ahead of their show last September 27, Team Wonder got to play catchup with Josephine and Anthony. Read on to know how they adjusted with touring again, writing 22 Break and 22 Make, and more:
Wonder: Concerts and shows have finally returned, with some changes thanks to the new normal. Did you guys have some difficulty adjusting to life on the road?
Josephine Vander West: Yeah, it’s pretty weird. It’s a huge extreme being on tour [after] having a year and a half locked inside our own houses.
Anthony Vander West: We’re used to it now, but when we first started, it was really kind of strange.
J: Yeah, it’s been about six months of touring, so it feels back to our usual thing.
A: I remember stepping onstage for the first time since COVID, which was crazy. We had nerves, and we never got nervous.
W: What was one thing you had to get used to after touring again?
J & A: Adrenaline.
J: Obviously, we hadn’t done anything exciting for a year and a half, not even out dancing or anything. And then the adrenaline your body produces when you’re onstage, you don’t know what to do with it. You feel your whole body’s shaking. It feels like you’ve had 15 coffees, and you’ll die, but you also have to smile and try to sing. So it’s a weird thing to try and navigate.
A: Also being away from home is a weird thing again, but we’re used to that.
W: What’s the one song you guys can’t wait to perform for the crowd tonight?
J: Hallelujah, I think it’s one of my favorite songs to perform live. We close the set with it. It lifts off the roof; that’s good.
A: And one of our old songs, Landslide. I remember it from when we played Samsung Hall, and it was one of the coolest moments ever.
— Wonder (@WonderMagPH) September 27, 2022
W: Let’s look back to the peak of the pandemic. So many things happened that led to the birth of 22 Break. Can you tell us the experience of creating this record in isolation and ending up with a break-up album?
J: It was never intentional. It was never planned. We just wrote 11 songs.
A: We were writing songs through quite a tough time, and they were never going to turn into an album. We just wrote them for ourselves. But we’re really happy that we were able to record them all and turn it into something we can share with people. I think it’s important to share the hard bits as well.
W: Looking back at the time you spent creating 22 Break, has anything changed—for better or for worse—with how you guys are as a couple and as a band?
J: We got married, so I guess now I can’t leave, and [Anthony] can’t leave.
A: I was never planning to leave.
J: We got married. All our friends who’ve gotten married said, “Oh, it’s exactly the same.” But I somehow think that it’s not. I guess being in a band is a massive commitment, but we’ve never really made a personal commitment to each other. It was always the professional things we were sharing. So it was nice to have the pandemic, in a strange way, to be ourselves and not be in a band.
A: It makes you re-evaluate a lot of things.
W: What’s something you hope your listeners take from 22 Break?
J: Nothing is perfect, that nothing can be good all the time and that you have to have darkness to enjoy the light. Also, you’ve got to hold on and not give up on yourself and someone else when it gets difficult. There’s always a way out, and you deserve happiness.
A: You can fix things.
W: This year, you guys have also released sweeter singles for 22 Make, like Fuck It I Love You and Magnificent. Can you walk us through the process of writing love songs again?
J: We decided to create 11 songs to counteract the 11 sad ones—11 happy songs—to find some sort of equilibrium. But it’s actually a little bit harder to write love songs, isn’t it?
A: Yeah, it’s a lot harder. I think, [for] love songs, it’s easy for them to be cheesy. So you have to work hard not to make them cheesy.
W: Are you thrilled to bring 22 Make into the world?
J: Oh, we’re very relieved. 22 Break was really horrible. Even now, we play three of the songs live onstage, and it has not been pleasant having to play them every night. So we’re very excited to finish this chapter and then start fresh—we’ll be at zero.
W: Lastly, what else can we expect from Oh Wonder in the coming months?
J: We are building a studio, which we have moved to outside of our house. We’ve moved houses and moved our studio, so we’re just going to make music for the sake of making music with no aim, which we’ve never done—well, we did it the first time we ever wrote our first album. We were just writing songs for the love of it, and since then, we’ve been trying to release albums because that’s what you do. Whereas now, we’re just going to make music.
A: Yeah, make it into a project.
Rain clouds might’ve settled for a minute over Oh Wonder, but it seems like the sun will keep on shining for a long, long time. We can’t wait for more songs from this wondrous (pun intended) musical match made in heaven.
Stream Oh Wonder’s newest single, “Can We Always Be Friends?” on all music platforms. Their upcoming album “22 Make” drops on October 7, 2022.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver
Special Thanks Karpos Live