Singer-songwriter Vance Joy is a no frills kind of traveler. For his gig as Taylor Swift’s opening act on her ongoing 1989 world tour, the burgeoning talent only brings the essentials. “I just pack a lot of undies and socks, and I’m always surprised by how small the rotation of clothes I end up wearing is,” he tells us hours before he takes the stage at one of Swift’s several jam-packed Los Angeles shows. “It’s always like a few pairs of jeans and a few T-shirts. Very basic stuff.”
The description of his daily uniform is sublimely on par, considering when meeting him inside the city's Ace Hotel he’s dressed in a denim Levi’s Strauss shirt (“They took us in there yesterday and gave us some jeans and jackets,” he adds), shorts purchased inside a local Seattle shop, a pair of worn-in Wolverine boots found in Canada, and, much like his personality, Happy Socks—the exact description of what a roving rock and roller ought to wear. Perhaps it’s the result of a quiet Australian upbringing, but Joy, originally known as James Keogh, allows his style M.O. to restlessly blend into every aspect of his artistry.
“On stage, I usually wear a pair of jeans and a top. The shirts have gotten smarter over the years. I used to wear thrift shop shirts and they never really fit quite right,” Joy says. For the sharpest of cuts, he turns to Ralph Lauren’s shirts because the brand’s New York store makes him feel like he’s not only dressed with “effortlessness” but also like he’s “in the turn of the century." In addition to a close friend who’s a tailor and, according to Joy, has a tight pant game, the well dressed Swift-fan also turns to Joaquin Phoenix for inspiration. “He just wears a T-shirt and a wayfarer buttoned up at the top and it looks good, but I guess that has to do with his whole demeanor and the way he carries himself,” he says. “[My style] has gotten a little bit smarter, but initially it was a bit more scruffy.”
There’s no doubt that Phoenix has a sexy allure, but Joy isn’t too far behind. Dressed in his best paired-down denim and cotton, of course, the talent’s charming, heartthrob-like stare shines in videos like “First Time” and “Fire and the Flood.” Sure, his looks may have improved since he left the land down under, but don’t expect the 6’4” man to snip his well-kept curly mane anytime soon. “I don’t know if I have the confidence in what my head would look like. I feel like I might have a weird-shaped head,” he jokes. “I feel like God gave me a big busy head of hair for a reason. It’s not supposed to be exposed.” To keep his voluminous locks in check, he turns to Moroccan Oil’s curl cream—a tip he took from his hairdresser in L.A.—and tries to avoid bad haircuts. “I just need to be able to walk out of my room and not be totally defeated by my hair.”
Hair intact, the 27-year-old is preparing to soon release a bevy of new songs this month, but it’s his debut album, Dream Your Life Away, that’s truly his passion project. “Some of those songs are some of the first songs I wrote,” he says. “It spans four years and it’s the best of my songwriting over that period of time. What you want to do is get people’s heartstrings, make an impact.” Just like his style, the music is soft, relaxing, and worthy of a listen—our ears are wide open.
—With reporting by Brandi Fowler
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