By Claire Stern
Updated Oct 30, 2017 @ 6:00 pm
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Emma McIntyre/Getty

Everybody needs a little time away. And after the breakout Vance Joy had—bursting into the cultural consciousness with his 2013 debut single "Riptide", not to mention opening for Taylor Swift on her star-packed 1989 tour—it's understandable that the Australian singer-songwriter would enjoy some much-needed R&R down under before pulling the trigger on his second album. Fast forward two years, and Joy is back with a catchy new folk-pop single, "Lay It On Me", and a full-length to follow early next year. In advance of performing a sold-out show at Brooklyn Steel in New York City, he stopped by the InStyle offices to discuss fashion, gardening, and T-Swift's Reputation.

What inspired you to finally write the new single? I read somewhere that you had the chords for years.
I had the riff, but then I didn't write the song for five years. I had almost given up on the idea. I tried heaps of different times to write it. Then finally I had a breakthrough. It was like having an odd sock and finding the other sock.

I was just momentarily distracted by your blue fingernail. How long have you had that?
It's actually for an awareness campaign called the Polished Man, which raises money for children's charities. A crazy amount of children suffer from abuse around the world, so it's a way to raise awareness for all of October. I've worn nail polish before, but never for a whole month. It's definitely a conversation starter.

Besides painting your nails, what else did you do during your time off?
I hung out at home in Melbourne, mostly. It's funny to try and turn the switch and live life and have some really amazing experience, or some crazy romance that sends you around the world, but it wasn't so easy to make all of those things happen. I was waiting around for songs to arrive, so in the meantime, I was skateboarding, having coffee, and mowing the lawn. I was being very ordinary.

I did see on Instagram that you were gardening quite a bit.
I had a job as a gardener for five years when I was at university and I loved it. I was sowing seeds, trimming hedges, mowing lawns. I've got some skills. I can blow the leaves. I can rake the leaves up. I can trim your roses. I can lay turf sometimes, if I have the team.

Have you gotten any feedback on the new single from friends in the industry?
I've been spruiking the song a bit.

I'm sorry, spruiking?
It's Australian slang. It means getting people interested. One of my friends from the band Big Scary said she sent me a message about it but my number has changed. I think all of the kind messages about my song must've been sent to my old phone number, because I didn't get any of them. [Laughs]

Have you listened to any of Taylor's new singles off Reputation?
It's definitely a new sound. I really like "Gorgeous." That line—"You should take it as a compliment / That I'm talking to everyone here but you"—I feel like every guy she ever spoke to is like, "That song is about me." Maybe she's messaging my old number, too. I should really make it easier for her to contact me.

You've always had a good sense of style. What designers do you wear most often?
I wear a lot of Buck Mason, which sounds like a porn star name and these R.M.Williams boots. They're nice leather boots—a lot of musicians wear them. I didn't grow up in the countr,y and I don't ride horses, but they would be good if you did that sort of stuff. They've got a bit of a rock thing going on.

VIDEO: Watch Vance Joy's "Lay It On Me" Music Video

This interview has been edited and condensed.