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Vance Joy is Pulling On Heartstrings

The “Riptide” singer opens up about his new music and what he wants fans to take away from it

When Vance Joy steps on stage at Panorama Festival in New York City, he’s beaming from one ear to the other. His smile grows even wider across his face as he starts in on his catchy love song “Mess is Mine” and the entire audience coos. Needless to say, the Australian charmer had captivated the crowd for his entire set.

James Gabriel Keogh has been performing under the alias Vance Joy since 2014 when he delivered his debut album Dream Your Life Away. With hits like “Riptide” and “First Time,” Vance Joy made a name for himself and his signature ukulele. After enjoying his first major US tour in 2014, he continued on to support Taylor Swift on her The 1989 World Tour. With a few years of performing under his belt, Vance Joy is preparing to release his long-awaited sophomore album.

Most recently, he released a new single titled “Lay It on Me,” giving his fans a sneak-peak of his new sound. “It’s about being in a relationship and surrendering to it fully and really letting your defenses down,” Keogh says of the meaning behind the single. “I’d been reading a book called Joe Cinque’s Consolation by an Australian author, Helen Garner and got really inspired by a line she wrote,” he says. The book follows Garner through a murder trial and focuses on her response to the crime and attempts to understand the victim’s rights, and although it’s not based in romance–something you’d expect Keogh to gravitate towards–the inspiration he draws from the book fits the bill. “The line in the song is ‘everything starts at your skin,'” he says. “And although it was inspired by a dark place in a crime story, I thought the sentiment worked.” 

“I really just want listeners to connect and have an emotional impact from my music. If it pulls on someone’s heartstrings, it’s a win,” he continues. If that is Keogh’s goal, he’s succeeded.

With his second (not-yet-named) album on the horizon, fans were elated to get an earful of his new material at Panorama Festival this summer. With more brass instruments and an added strength to his overall sound, Keogh has definitely graduated from his lovable ukulele-based sets. Don’t be fooled though, he knows what his crowd wants. The proof was clear as he closed out his performance on the festival’s main stage, the lyrics of “Riptide” vibrating loud and clear throughout the event’s grounds. 

Main image credit: Justin Bettman