Right around the time James Gabriel Keogh decided to chuck his promising sports career and a brief law school stint to pick up a guitar, he immersed himself in the works of two-time Booker Prize winner and fellow Aussie Peter Carey – specifically, Carey’s 1981 existentially-infused debut novel, Bliss. The novel both struck a chord with the burgeoning songwriter and yielded his future stage name, Vance Joy.
The name was inspired by the great-grandfather of the story’s protagonist, Harry Joy, who was known for spinning fanciful yarns while unraveling life’s truths. Much in the same way Carey brings his characters’ complexities to life in print, the modern-day Vance Joy does the same for matters of the heart and psyche in song.
Vance Joy’s evolution from playing open mic nights in Melbourne to world-renowned artist began in early 2013 with the release of his debut EP, God Loves You When You’re Dancing. The triple-platinum breakout “Riptide” introduced Vance Joy and his ukulele to a whole new audience, remaining in the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) top 100 for 107 weeks, besting Lady Gaga’s 106 weeks with “Poker Face,” and generating over 6 million in sales around the globe. “Riptide’s” cameo in a Stateside GoPro commercial helped nab the attention of Atlantic Records, who signed him for an unprecedented five-record deal, releasing his full-length debut Dream Your Life Away in September of 2014.
He kicked off his solo tour in Dallas that October. Shortly after, Taylor Swift enlisted Vance Joy as the support act for her lengthy 1989 World Tour. For the next few years, in between collecting the 2015 ARIA award for Best Male Artist and touring and performing, he’d penned a new batch of songs, most of which would appear on his long-anticipated sophomore album Nation Of Two, released in February 2018.
Prior to his May 5 show at the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie, Texas, he joined KXT and Art & Seek at Alliance Skatepark for a pop-up performance of “Saturday Sun.” The song captures the tender ache of a romance in its beginning stages, taking a leap of faith even as the idealism and uncertainty battle it out in his heart.