The Australian singer-songwriter James Keogh, better known as Vance Joy, is already becoming one of the biggest acts in the music industry — and he’s only released one album, “Dream Your Life Away,” which debuted less than a year ago.
The single “Riptide” has sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S. alone and been streamed more than 200 million times on Spotify. We spoke with Keogh/Joy at the Coachella music festival.
Taylor Swift/Vance Joy mutual appreciation society
Along with all his other success, he’s moving on from Coachella to opening on tour for the one and only Taylor Swift. They're apparently fans of each other's music — they've both covered hits by the other.
Ahead of touring with T-Swift, Joy dropped his own cover of Swift's "I Know Places."
Touring for the first time
Joy told us about the difficulties of life as a touring musician.
"When I was writing my debut album, I suppose I was in a bit of a frantic emotional state in some ways, because I was torn in a lot of directions," Joy says.
Joy was starting to tour heavily, and says he hadn't previously experienced touring at all.
"It was all pretty new and I kind of had to adapt. And sometimes you think, 'Oh, it's so hard, do I even enjoy this?' But the overpowering feeling was that I just was passionate about the songs, and that I wanted them to be as good as they could be. So, that kind of guides you through, even though there's some tough times in terms of just wearing your body in, like accepting that sometimes you're going to be tired, sometimes you think you can't even sing, but you've got to do it."
What makes a quality song
"A lot of my songs, there is a thing — they're emotional, and they're often love songs. That's the kind of thing that triggers me, and that makes me excited about songwriting."
Joy says that when he hears a song that hits him in the heart, it's a combination of the music, the melody and the lyrics.
"I guess you try and emulate that with your own songs, and you don't necessarily have to be experiencing the exact story of the song, but it just has to be something that resonates with you."
He says that the impact of a good song is like when you read a strong emotional point in a book, and he's hoping to create that same feeling in his listeners.
Giving all of yourself to the audience
"At the moment, my favorite song to play live is a song called 'Georgia.' Which is, it's got a nice groove and it's slightly different in terms of the flavor and the instrumentation than the other songs on my album."
The song calls for Joy to commit hard to sell it to the audience.
"I guess there's no way of singing it without giving a lot of yourself. You have to really bring it for the vocal, because the vocal is quite high, and there's a couple of moments where I really, it's just me and my voice, and there's no other instruments."
Those moments are ones where Joy is forced to rise to the challenge.
"In those moments, I guess they require you to push, push yourself. And it feels good, and I think the people can connect with that when they're watching you give everything," Joy says. "Hopefully they think it's real."
The best feeling Vance Joy gets
While audiences may get lost in Joy's music, Joy hopes to get lost in it himself.
"Sometimes I find that the best feeling you can get is when you look around and you kind of forget that you're even performing, that you're even on stage. You're just in the song. I think if you can be in the song, however you get in it — I don't know how you do it, but sometimes it happens and it's nice. You go, 'Whoa, I'm performing,' and you snap out of it. But even just a moment of being in it is really good."
You can catch Joy on tour with Taylor Swift when they play five nights at the Staples Center in late August.