Photo: Cody Austin

vaultboy

The indie pop hitmaker unveils new single "everything hits me at once"

While opening for Nightly on their fall tour across the US last year, Jeremiah Daly, aka vaultboy, delivered a concise, earnest set of self-produced material including “aftermath,” “I wish you well,” and “I think I wanna text you.” At the end of the set, he’d say, “If you don’t know who I am, maybe you’ll recognize this song,” and launch into “everything sucks,” his quirky and lighthearted sad-boy bedroom pop Tik Tok hit with nearly 200 million streams on Spotify. Most people did, in fact, recognize the song.

“’everything sucks’ is a really good example of my personality on a song,” he said. “But I like the idea that I can kind of win the audience over for songs of mine they’ve never heard before they recognize that they may know me from a song they HAVE heard.”

With new single “everything hits me at once,” which is out now, he hopes to find similar success with a song that matches his other well-known tracks in lyrical honesty and relatability but is, overall, a darker, more adult-contemporary sound.

“everything hits me at once” 

An immediate point of reference for “everything hits me at once” is “this is what I get,” a track off his 2022 EP of the same. These songs, more emotionally hefty than earworms such as “everything sucks” and “why u gotta be like that,” focus less on a singular social media-geared lyric or production element and more on the overall performance.

The pop-trap-inspired production of “everything hits me at once” is a key selling point. As are his vocals, which showcase, arguably, a career-best demonstration: “But when I get back to my room and I shut the door… everything hits me at once / I know that you’re not coming backkkkk to meeeee / It’s not enough / Just knowing this is how it hassssss to beeeee.” His vocal placement and perfect, steady vibrato, particularly throughout the chorus and second verse, are any self-proclaimed technician’s dream for pop music.

“everything hits me at once” (cont.)

“It wasn’t a long relationship or anything,” he said, candidly diving into the backstory of the tune. “Things ended fine and we’re still friends. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m good.’ But I was just… not really that good. I tried to paint the juxtaposition of what I was feeling which is, ‘Everything’s fine!’ I’m looking at it all and I’m like, ‘There’s no problem here,’ but I still feel terrible.”

Certainly a character, he acted out his front-facing dialogue to friends after the fact. “If you’re around mutual friends, it’s like, ‘Yeahhhhh, no, we’re good. Of course. It may work in the future… we don’t know, but we’re not gonna… it doesn’t matter. Whatever, I don’t even care. SHE probably doesn’t care’,” he said, making wild hand motions and changing his expression throughout. “It’s that whole kind of denial of what you’re feeling. When you’re alone, when there’s nobody to put on a front to, it just hits you. And you’re like… sad.”

Without wanting to give too much away, he identified the perceived lightness of the verses and darkness of the chorus, alluding that his album, likely coming after the new year, may follow a similar trajectory. “I have this vision to tell two different types of stories,” he said. “They kind of come from two different places within me.”

Like-minded creatives

Just prior to this new solo tune, vaultboy collaborated with sought-after songwriter Salem Ilese on the experimental pop duet “don’t shop when ur hungry!!.” He also admitted to having a hand in the writing for the Nightly track “on your sleeve”  in addition to working with them on “why u gotta be like that.” While the output of music for these three artists is substantially different despite being under the same genre umbrella, they all possess a similar innate ability to establish relatability through educated simplicity.

“I think we all have unique perspectives as creatives,” he said.  “Salem is really good at landing really interesting concepts. Jon is really good at putting you inside of a moment. As for me, I try really hard when I write and produce stuff for myself to make it for me because I like it. I don’t want to say, ‘I want to sound like this artist’ or “I want to have a song like THIS song.’ I want to make music I like. Music that feels right to me.”

“As of right now, I’m very much here to stay.” 

Though planted firmly in the indie pop world right now, with 10 years of making music under his belt, vaultboy has taken on many different artist projects and styles. “I’ve been doing some sort of artist project since I’m 13,” he said. “I’ve never not pushed myself to make better songs. I’ve always pushed myself to do better, try different things, and be honest with myself in terms of what type of music I wanted to make. I did some emo stuff, some sad indie folk stuff. I love the music I’m making now. Back then, that was just where I was in my life. I think some people see indie folk as a bit more honest in some ways, but I think I’m just as honest in every song I make. Whether or not people necessarily see it like that, that’s how I see it.”

Moving forward, Daly is keen on staying exactly where he is now. “I think vaultboy still has a lot more stories to tell,” he said. “A lot more of the vaultboy universe has yet to be explored, and I have a lot of plans of how I want to accomplish that in the next three… five… however many years. I want to always be writing and producing music, whether it’s for me or for other people. As of right now, I’m very much here to stay. This album, I think, will be bringing something really special to that. I’ll be a little bit of everywhere.”

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