"It's nice to be promoting a different song than 'Riptide,'" Vance Joy says with a laugh, referring to the breakthrough single that made the 27-year-old Australian a staple of U.S. rock radio and caught the attention of Taylor Swift. "I remember being really blown away by the fact that she was covering my song," he says. "I still am stoked that that happened."
This summer, Joy will be opening the North American dates of Swift's 1989 tour, and right now he's shifting attention toward the dreamy "Georgia." The track's intense music video (premiered above) seems to be about a male soldier dying in a comrade's arms – then takes two unexpected turns. Though a film buff himself, Joy, born James Keogh, had little to do with the concept, which came from director Luci Schroder. "When you get a good pitch like Luci's, it makes it easy for me to say 'yes' to it because I think it stands out," the singer says. "One of the goals when deciding on a [music video] is you want something to be memorable or at least to spark some kind of thought or resonate with people in a way."
Had he not been on the road, Joy might have attempted something a little cheesier. "I wanted to do something reminiscent of the Roxy Music clips from back in the day," he says. "I still have a plan to do something like that."
Joy began writing "Georgia" in 2006, then sat on it until he figured out the words and melody. Those came at the very beginning of last year. "It was New Year's Day in 2014, and I just sat down and started playing those chords," he says. "Somehow, I just found the right combination, found a way to put words over the top of the riff that sounded right. That's always a magic moment."
"Riptide" was the second single off Dream Your Life Away, a debut LP that subsequently went to Number One in Joy's home country. "Georgia" will be the sixth. "When I look back, I don't regret going full-tilt and going as hard as we could," Joy says. "It opens a lot of doors for you. When those doors are open, they're kind of ajar for you to show people your next song and the next song after that. They know your name, and when you come back in a couple of years with some more stuff, their ears are open to what you've got to say."