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Vance Joy Interview: ‘Riptide’ Singer Talks Upcoming Album, Shares His Reading List

Vance Joy
Second Phase

Give Vance Joy’s breakout hit, ‘Riptide,’ one listen and we guarantee you’ll be hooked.

When we chatted with James Keogh, the man behind the moniker, we weren’t surprised to find that he is just as charming as his song. Just as he effortlessly drops rapid-fire imagery in ‘Riptide,’ Keogh seemed at ease talking about everything from his fears to building stories in his music. He even gave us a glance at his reading list!

Check out his exclusive interview with PopCrush below.

The ‘God Loves You When You’re Dancing’ EP is fantastic. Of course, ‘Riptide’ has been really successful, and I’m sure you get asked about the Michelle Pfeiffer reference in the song a lot, but I’m wondering if the line about being scared of dentists and the dark literal?

I think it was a bit. It probably came from a real place. I wrote that line… and that came out of nowhere. Sometimes when you’re writing a song and that song comes into your head, it definitely comes from somewhere, like a real experience. So I think that’s pretty accurate, you know? Yes, it’s interesting how some words just kind of pop into your head and you have no idea where they came from.

There’s so many cool images back-to-back in ‘Riptide.’ Do you ever get a lump in your throat if fans sing the words to your own songs incorrectly?

I think [‘Riptide’] is a pretty hard song to follow. Lyrically, I can imagine when you love it, you don’t think about it, but they do it, they sing it wrong because it’s so densely packed with different words.  It’s kind of like an endearing thing, you know? It’s kind of like a charming thing when someone sings the words wrong.

Watch Vance Joy’s ‘Riptide’ Video

One of my favorite tracks on the EP is ‘From Afar.’ Can you talk about the story behind it?

It’s one of my favorite songs as well. I wrote half of the song, or most of the song, in like 2010 or something like that and then finished it up a couple years later. I think I had that line “Love you from afar” in my head. I think I was out one day and I was talking to myself. It just came into my head, that line, and I built a story out of that idea, of loving from afar. Kind of wanting someone, but not being able to have them for whatever reason. You’re with someone or they’re with someone or I guess there’s so many reasons why you might be at a distance.

It wasn’t like a personal story, really. It kind of has little elements of that, but it was more it came out of that one line. Sometimes you have that one line and you can build a narrative out of that line.

I heard that you’re going to be finishing a full-length album this year.

Yes, it should be out in July. That’s the plan. I haven’t released [a name] yet. I’ve got a couple ideas. One that I’m kind of getting attached to.

What can fans expect?

I think mostly new material… It’s kind of a consistent extension from the EP. I still wanted to keep that kind of personal vibe… and feel like there’s a closeness there.

You got your stage name from a book. Do you have a reading list right now, and if so, can you share what’s on it?

Yeah, I do. I’ve been downloading books onto my iPhone. I read this book called ‘An Elegant Young Man’ which is by a guy called Luke Carman.  And I’m reading ‘The Goldfinch’ and an autobiography as well.

Is there anything is particular that you like to read or are you just into everything? 

I’m into everything. I like to get suggestions on what to read. I’ll look at Twitter, people I like, people I admire…  I’ll go and research the book, download it on my phone and read it while I’m on the road.

Next: See More Artists to Watch in 2014

Bonus: Watch Taylor Swift Cover ‘Riptide’

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