The One Thing That Scares Vance Joy

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Interview: Alison Boleyn. Photography: Justin Bettman

The lowdown

The Melbourne artist’s songs, including Lay 
It on Me and Riptide, have been streamed on Spotify more than one billion times to date. His new album, 
Nation of Two, is 
out on 23 February.

What’s your greatest strength?

I think I’m a pretty positive person. I try to be like water and go with the flow.

What’s your greatest weakness?

I hate being boxed in. And I can get impatient. I don’t think this is a weakness, really, but it might need to be balanced out by someone with a methodical approach.

What scares you?

Big alpha-male, aggressive dudes, for obvious reasons.

What virtue do you most admire?

Empathy.

What’s something about you that would surprise people?

How tall I am [1.91 metres] and that I know the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode by heart.

What’s your most treasured possession?

My dad’s Suzuki acoustic guitar. I used to run my fingers along the fretboard, making noises. Now I can actually play it – it’s a beautiful-sounding instrument.

If you could have dinner with two famous people, who would you choose?

George Harrison because, beyond writing some of the best songs, he’d carry around ukuleles in his car and hand them out. 
I want to emulate that giving vibe. And Alan Watts [who popularised Eastern philosophy in the West] seems like he knew about having a good time.

What travel experience is on your bucket list?

I always talk up wanting to go on a road trip in a proper camping van. I’d go to New Zealand or do the west coast of America to see Big Sur. It will happen, okay?

How do you switch off?

Frisbee, basketball or skateboarding.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I have no guilt but lots of pleasure. Bring on all pleasurable things in moderation! Chocolate, cheese, alcohol…

Who is your personal hero?

My dad has a get-on-with-it vigour that 
I really admire. He can paint your house, pick you up from the station or cook you 
a great dinner then talk movies and books. My mum is a brilliant schoolteacher. Teachers can be life-changers for the kids who are taking notice.

What’s your greatest achievement?

That I get to do music as my job. I get to 
be myself every day.

What is the most Australian thing about you?

I like listening to and telling stories. 
That isn’t just an Australian thing but it seems like an important part of all my relationships back home.

Where would we find you at a party?

If it’s a good one, I could be anywhere 
– dancing, when the conditions are right. If it’s a bad party, I’d opt to clean the dishes.

If you were an animal, what would it be?

A green sea turtle because I love looking 
at fish and I’d get to glide underwater.

What would you spend your last $20 on?

Water. Or a bottle for tap water. Hydration is no laughing matter.

If you could turn back time, what would you change in your life?

Nothing, really. I would want to be able 
to just say, “This is it,” and experience it.

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