First Australia, then the world

Melbourne musician Vance Joy signs with Atlantic Records and hits the road


Vance Joy doesn’t even have a full-length record out yet, but the Melbourne-based folk-pop singer/songwriter is already generating a lot of buzz in his home country.

Influenced by such other Aussie acts as Paul Kelly, Joy – whose real name is James Keogh – began performing his own music at open mic nights.

In 2012, Joy started to record some songs at The Shed Studios in Melbourne with producer John Castle, who’s worked with a wide variety of other Australian artists.

Joy’s first single “From Afar” was released in September 2012 and then in January he was picked up by Liberation Music. The label released Joy’s debut EP, God Loves You When You’re Dancing on March 22 in Australia.

“I wrote that title down in my notebook and I just liked the idea of it,” Joy says over the phone from Sydney, in the middle of an Australian tour.

“I just wanted to capture that sense of abandon, when you’re dancing or doing anything that’s kind of liberating like that.”

The album’s ukulele-based second track “Riptide” has gone on to receive lots of radio play and last month it garnered Gold status in Australia.

“When I was working on that song, it felt like all of the pieces of the puzzle just fell together,” Joy says. “It’s based on conversations that I’ve had and characters out of films and books. It just kind of all came together and became a song.”

The single’s popularity helped him sign a contract with major label Atlantic Records, which just released the EP in North America on Sept. 3.

“That song got on the radar of one of the A&R guys and I ended up going to New York, which was almost frightening at the time,” Joy says. “I went over there for three or four days to play for them and I ended up getting a deal, which definitely helps me get to Canada and America.”

Joy will be coming to Canada for the first time early this month, stopping in Winnipeg at the Park Theatre on September 9 before eventually crossing into the U.S. for some more shows.

“I’m excited to be on the road in a different country, meeting people and just having lots of discoveries,” Joy says. “I wouldn’t mind going fishing, wherever that is, if it’s a possibility. Being from Australia I kind of have this romantic idea of fishing in Canada. I think it would be a nice thing to do.”

After his Canada/U.S. shows, Joy will return to Australia, where he plans to begin recording his first full-length album which he hopes will be released sometime in 2014.

“The writing is a work in progress,” Joy says. “I’ve already started chipping away and it’s my next challenge.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 4, 2013)

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