Vance Joy, born James Keogh, is a sensation in Australia, and he’s about to conquer the US too. His new EP is “God Loves You When You’re Dancing,” and he’ll be at U Street Music Hall on September 20. He took time out of his busy touring schedule to talk to On Tap.
On Tap: We hear you gave up a possible law career to do music, or at least put it on hold. Was that decision difficult or easy? Think you’ll ever go back to it?
Vance Joy: It was quite a natural decision. I had finished my degree and was ready to go out into the work force. At that point in my life I had been living out of home and writing quite a lot. I decided I would go into the studio and record a song I felt really good about… and then that took over. Law is always something I can fall back on.
OT: We also hear you used to play football in the VFL. Can you explain the sport to Americans and why you also put that on hold? And how do you have so many careers for a 25 year old?
VJ: The VFL is a state level football league in Australia… I was pretty into it and made some good friends. I guess I had other things going on and choose to pursue those.
OT: Where did you get the pseudonym from and why have one?
VJ: Vance Joy is a character from the book Bliss by Peter Carey. It is a way for me to separate my personal life from my music.
OT: You used to play open mics in Melbourne. What were the steps that led from that to where you are now?
VJ: I used to play open mics and small bars around Melbourne. It was a way for me to test the songs I was writing. I recorded a song and uploaded it to Soundcloud, my friends and family heard it and gave me a pat on the back. Soon after, I got a manager and then we began locking in a few gigs here and there. It has been a pretty great ride so far and it’s exciting for me as an artist to have people able to hear my collection of music.
OT: Who are some of your influences?
VJ: I don’t know who in particular. I tend to trawl through movies and books and conversations I’ve had for inspiration.
OT: Is there anything “Australian” about your music that separates it from, say, an artist in the US? Do you have influences from Australia that are unique?
VJ: Yeah I think so, my accent is Australian, I listened to Australian bands growing up: Silverchair, Powderfinger, Paul Kelly. Savage Garden was the first album I bought when I was 9.
OT: What are the plans for recording a full length album? Do you know the who, what, where, when, why of it yet? Do you have a lot of songs waiting to be recorded?
VJ: I actually spent a few weeks last month at Bear Creek Studios in Seattle recording some songs. I am planning on going back there in November to continue the process.
OT: Do you notice a difference in crowds in the US vs Australian audiences?
VJ: The crowds in Australia are a lot more familiar with my music so there is that glimmer of recognition on faces sometimes. American crowds are really nice and engaged I have found.
OT: Have you had a chance to hang out in DC before?
VJ: Yes, I was there on tour in June when I supported Lissie at U Street Music Hall. I went for a walk on the day of the gay pride parade; it was awesome, so much color and energy. I went for a walk in this green ribbon that had parks and basketball courts peppered here and there. I have fond memories of kicking the football to myself there.
To learn more about Vance visit www.vancejoy.com. Catch Vance in DC September 20.
U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; 202-588-1880; www.ustreetmusichall.com