You might not know the name James Keogh, but I’m hella sure you would have heard of Vance Joy (guess what, they’re one and the same). With a dreamy poetic vibe that has given birth to the likes of the ever-popular “Riptide” and heart melters like “Emmylou”, Vance Joy is making an impression. 

Vivid harmonies, ukulele twangs and a hypnotic beat conjures the infectiously mellow sound. Keogh’s bucolic vocals are wonderfully rich (and incredibly distracting), making no surprise the overwhelming response to the warmth of Vance Joy’s musicality. We caught up with front-man James to chat Splendour, finishing touches and Forest Gump.

Did you grow up in a musical household?

Yes. My folks don’t play instruments, but they are definitely musical. 

How did Vance Joy begin?

I was writing songs and had a desire to share those songs and pinched a name I read in a book I liked. Vance Joy is a character I took from the Peter Carey novel Bliss

Your latest EP, God Loves You When You’re Dancing has been very well received. Did you expect everything to take off so quickly?

No, I didn’t but I had a lot of faith in those songs.

How long did you work on that EP for?

We recorded it in a week, but the songs were all works in progress ranging from about 4 years.

Your video clip for Riptide is very clever. What made you choose to go for that literal style?

We put the song out there for director’s to pitch in on. We had a lot of really good idea’s, however Dimitri Basil’s really stood out. Most Directors send over 3-4 page documents with lots of ideas & images.  Dimitri’s was one sentence, “I want to make a literal video based on the lyrics”. I was very intrigued by this so let him go with it. We didn’t hear from him for about 3-4 weeks, and then the video was delivered, and it was awesome. 

If you could describe your sound using one word, what would it be?


Tell me about the music making process for Vance Joy. Is it mostly collaborative?

I write all the songs, but I collaborate when dressing the songs up in the production phase.

What’s your favourite song off the EP?

“From Afar”.


It’s an old one. People connect with it, I think. 

I saw you recently at Splendour in the Grass, what was that experience like?

So good. I was so nervous and hyper before the show. I felt light after.

Do you prefer touring or recording?

I think recording. The rewards of seeing it come together are the best. 


You can dress your song in the best outfit. They look a million bucks. 

Any pre-show rituals?

Cup of tea. 

Highlight so far?


Most embarrassing moment?

Dropping a PA on the groin and deafening everyone at one of my first shows.

What do you do when you’re not making music?

Run away from Forrest Gump.

Best live act you’ve ever seen?

Recently, The Drones.

If you could pick one person, dead or alive, to play a show with, who would it be?

Rodney Razor Two Stripes.

What’s plans for the rest of 2013? 

I head over to the UK for a string of solo headline shows, then I will head into a studio in Seattle, WA for a month to record the album. Once that’s over, I will play Meredith Music Festival and take a break over Christmas and New Years. 

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