Hailing from Australia, Vance Joy is no stranger to the main stage. In fact, the singer-songwriter just kicked off his nationwide tour in the wake of his most recent project, Nation of Two, his sophomore album, and it has already peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Album chart.
In addition to his multiple platinum certifications, Joy’s music is perfect for all audiences, with relatable lyrics and a strong sing-along appeal. It came as no surprise when he was promoted to this year’s Coachella Stage from the Mojave Tent, where he made his first appearance.
Fans were over-Joyed to hear songs like “Riptide” and “Mess Is Mine,” which were picked from his breakthrough debut, Dream Your Life Away.
L.A. Weekly: For those who don’t know, who is Vance Joy?
I am a singer-songwriter from Melbourne, Australia. I’ve been making music that people have been knowing about for the last five or six years. I just released my second album, called Nation of Two. Yeah, that’s who I am. I’m pretty tall. I think I’ve surprised people with how tall I am. And I have curly hair.
How would you describe your sound?
I would say it’s acoustic, folk kind of style. It’s singer-songwriter, so it’s probably more pop-like than just traditional folk music. The instrumentation on the album is quite acoustic, but when I play live, I think we try to make it as big as possible without losing the acoustic feeling. So I play acoustic guitar, but I have a drummer and a keyboard player and a couple of horn players. It’s a bit of a variety.
You’re from Australia. How does that play into your life and music?
I’m influenced by a lot of Australian musicians and Australian songwriters. And a lot of those big Australian songwriters are famous around the world. Say, someone like Paul Kelly, who is very famous in Australia, who’s influenced a lot of younger artists. I guess my music — even if it’s not even apparent and if it doesn’t show through too much — even with my voice, it might not sound like I sing with an Australian accent. I think a lot of music that I love is from Australia. So it must follow in some way.
Your record “Saturday Sun” sees you praising the West Coast. What do you love most about Los Angeles?
This is for L.A. Weekly so … I like being in L.A. I spent a lot of time there making the album because I did a lot of work with a producer in Malibu named Dave Bassett, which was really fun. When I was going to his house, I’d stay in Venice Beach and I’d drive down PCH to his place in Malibu. And I loved doing that drive. The last week we were doing it, I got to … actually, this is kind of silly. I didn’t hire a car until the last minute. So when I hired a car, I was like, “Jesus, this is the best!” And I like the weather and I just think people are looking around there. They’re paying attention to things, noticing things, and I think it’s a good place for creative people.
Three years ago, you were actually performing at the Mojave Tent. Take us back to the moment you found out you were on the main stage this year.
I found out just quite recently. I think it’s so scary playing on the big stage, but it’s also nice having done it last week. That was a big relief. And to know that people came and it was a good vibe. It felt like a step up and it was a challenge that we were very excited about facing.
What’s the contrast like between weekend two and weekend one?
I think weekend two is hotter, generally. And I think it’s a little bit more relaxed for me. Probably everyone. But from another perspective, it’s like, “Cool, we did it once.” Know what to expect a little bit, hopefully. Hopefully it’s just as fun. There’s a little bit less nervous energy, which is nice.
Aside from your performance, what’s been the biggest highlight from Coachella?
Last week, I saw Beyoncé and I saw Cardi B. I just loved walking around the festival and just being “among the people.” And just hanging out and enjoying the music.
What’s it like performing right before Cardi B, rap’s hottest artist?
I think it’s good in the case that there are people there to see her who might be lining up early, so I play to a few more people. But her show is so fun. We go onstage, probably have a beer, relax, have some water, and then go back out and watch her. Her show is such good vibes, so I’m looking forward to getting in and seeing it again. And it’s so short. She played for like 35 minutes, so you need to get in there from the start.
What’s the one thing you learned about yourself from touring with Taylor Swift?
I think I learned just to be open to different opinions, like people said, maybe you should try this or try this to engage with a bigger audience. So I took on a lot of good advice and I think it made me a better performer.
Three essentials you need in the studio?
Good energy, good song and good team — producer, sound engineer, all the people who make it actually sound good.
Who’s your dream collab?
Anyone who would like to make a really cool song. But I love Feist.
What’s the best encounter you've had with a fan?
There are a lot of great ones. Too many. But I’ve met a lot of young kids, which is always really good for your soul. Little kids who have seen my songs in films or just listen to my CD. It’s just such a good rush of positivity to meet kids because they’re so pure and innocent and just joyful.
Is there anything else you want L.A. Weekly to know?
No, I love L.A.