Vance Joy has that ineffable quality that makes some artists special. The lyrics of his folk/pop songs don’t always make immediate sense, but they combine with his acoustic-based style to touch people in meaningful ways.
Even Joy is unsure how it all happens sometimes. In talking to Cameron Adams of News Corp Australia Network about writing his hit song "Riptide," Joy said, “I didn't have conscious control of what was happening. Sometimes it’s subconscious. The less control you exert on a song the better it is.”
Atlantic Records expects this subconscious approach to keep working, as they've signed Joy to a five-album deal. He’s poised for success after "Riptide" has reached the Top 40 in five European countries and been certified triple platinum in Joy’s home country of Australia.
It may be tough for Joy’s growing fan base to imagine him doing anything other than making music, but Joy is a smart and talented young man whose life could have gone in a number of other directions. In addition to receiving an arts/law degree from Monash University, he was also a promising soccer player in the Victorian Football League. He won the Best First Year Player award during his first season with the Coburg Football Club.
Though football fans may disagree, music fans worldwide are thankful Joy pursued his singer-songwriter career. After starting on open mic nights in Melbourne, Joy now performs all over the globe, including 2014 appearances at Golden Gate Park Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco and Lollapalooza in Chicago.
If you do catch Vance Joy in concert, you’ll be treated to a guitar- and ukulele-playing musical storyteller. Joy even named himself after a storyteller. He was born with the name James Keogh, but took the stage name Vance Joy from a character in the novel Bliss by Peter Carey. Joy told Shannon Carlin of Radio.com, “In the actual book, the character Vance Joy, he’s kind of a grandfather figure...He’s only in it for a couple of pages, but they talk about how he brings people around him and tells these stories and that image just sort of fit.”
In creating his own stories to tell, Joy draws from a wide variety of sources, including his own experiences, musical influences, books and films. In an interview with Pigeons and Planes, Joy said, “I just f---ing love movies, I love good films. If I wasn’t playing music I would start a film blog.” One famous movie star, Michelle Pfeiffer, has a prominent role in the lyrics of Joy’s hit song "Riptide."
"Riptide" is a perfect example of the way Joy draws from various sources and blends multiple story lines into a catchy tune. Especially when seen live, the song also captures Joy’s warmth and vulnerability. He wraps it all up in a bashful style that, like his songwriting, comes together beautifully and just works.