New Music To Know: Vance Joy Goes From Lawyer to Folk Singer and Never Looks Back

By Shannon Carlin

James Keogh once had big dreams of becoming a lawyer, but right after earning his degree he decided he’d much rather be a singer/songwriter instead. While some parents would be pretty upset by their child’s decision to ditch the 9-to-5 world for the life of a rambling man, Keogh’s dad was more than happy to see his son make the switch. Mainly because he always wished he would have become a rock star himself.

“I didn’t want to play guitar when I was 14 years old, but [my dad] got an electric guitar and he was like, ‘You have to play this,'” Keogh told “He always had that regret that he didn’t play music.”

Shortly after earning his degree, Keogh hit the open mic circuit and started going by Vance Joy. He took the name, which he hoped would help separate his personal and public persona, from a character in fellow Aussie Peter Carey’s novel, Bliss. “In the actual book, the character Vance Joy, he’s kind of a grandfather figure,” Keogh explained. “He’s only in it for a couple of pages, but they talk about how he brings people around him and tells these stories and that image just sort of fit.”

Keogh considers himself to be a storyteller, admitting that though he feels a closeness to his music, it’s not autobiographical.”You might start with a thread or a kernel of your own experience, but I think the best stuff is usually picked up from books or films,” he said. “I think I try to find things and combine them and fit them together like a puzzle. The more things you can put together and kind of smooth over the edges, the more you can’t really tell where everything came from and it comes out as an original thing.”

Read more about Vance Joy on


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