The key to Vegyn’s music is that it doesn’t take anything – not even its own melancholia – seriously. The 25-year-old south London-based producer describes it himself as a mixture between “sadness and optimism… It’s not like happy being sad, but happy to have been sad.” That’s the propulsive energy of his debut album Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds, a Technicolour sugar rush of distorted beats that alternately batter and uplift the listener. Any time the record hits you with a moment of clarity or poignancy, you’ll immediately hear it followed by a cartoonish vocal, or a melody that puts a Cheshire grin on your face. “I’m just trying to make it fun,” he reflects. “I’m very tired of chin-strokey, ‘take me seriously’ [electronic music]… I’m trying to make stuff stupid.”
This streak of playful rebellion has its roots in Vegyn’s – aka Joe Thornalley’s – route into the music world. Whether it’s starting his own label before he’s even released anything, or attending his very first studio sessions for Frank Ocean, or releasing mixtapes that are 71 tracks long, Vegyn is an artist who never seems to settle for anything less than the maximum.
Growing up Joe’s musical education came largely from the bombastic, future anthems of Ed Banger Records and Daft Punk, and from sketching out J Dilla inspired instrumentals. His preferred electronic music was always the kind that managed to wring emotions out of the listener, even without the obvious hook of a traditional topline melody. He was also at the time beginning to listen to Boards Of Canada and Flying Lotus, and was a longtime fan of Aphex Twin, who inspired him to always strive to take his beats into unexpected, occasionally uncomfortable places.