VMEN: Vegyn

VMEN: Vegyn

There’s no competition: A distinct aura of talent and style, the empowered musician is one of eight heavyweights that have reimagined the playing field, featured on the pages of VMAN43.

There’s no competition: A distinct aura of talent and style, the empowered musician is one of eight heavyweights that have reimagined the playing field, featured on the pages of VMAN43.

Photography: Ian Kenneth Bird

Styling: Reuben Esser

Text: Devin Barrett

This article appears in the pages of VMAN 43: Overdrive, available for purchase now at vmagazine.myshopify.com.

“It was [that feeling] when your eyes widen, and you’re thankful that you’re alive,” says Vegyn, otherwise known as Joe Thornalley, when prompted to recall the November release of his debut album, Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds. “I was feeling very inspired. All of the songs kind of started within the space of feeding the dream. I was working [on a] completely nocturnal [schedule], making five or six tracks every day.” His music transports listeners to a place unknown. It’s futuristic, but familiar, he explains: “It’s within the realm of electronica—all made on the computer.” But he hesitates to categorize the sound as any singular genre, focusing on “emotional ambiance” rather than “commercial viability.” The sixteen-song compilation is a product of ignoring barriers and letting strangeness shine in. “That freedom was very inspiring to me,” he continues. “I have been a fearful person, creating certain barriers for [myself] all the time. So [the album] is just about constantly [facing] the things that make us feel uncomfortable. Because that’s the only way to get [over your fears].” Vegyn’s musical moniker is inspired by the commitment required of veganism. Although to be clear, he isn’t a practicing vegan himself. “People immediately have an opinion on it,” he says of aligning himself with the plant-based lifestyle. As for the Y? “There’s an element of google-ability,” he laughs. (In fairness, he used to be a vegetarian.) What’s clear is that Vegyn’s creative practice comes naturally: his father was a musician and his mom was a designer. As a young adult, the singer cut his teeth in the London club scene—namely the now defunct Plastic People, where he did more than party. “I kept USBs of my music on me, so whenever I met people I could share my portfolio,” he recalls. And while his album release may have been a public unveiling, his music had already been heard by millions. After chance encounters with several musical game-changers, Vegyn went on to produce for the likes of Frank Ocean, James Blake, and Travis Scott. Today he remains a key player in the Ocean family, as a host on Ocean’s Blonded Radio—an ongoing, free-form platform that is, like much of Ocean’s oeuvre, mysterious. But that suits Vegyn just fine. “It’s surprise radio!” he says. “You never know what you’re going to get.

Vegyn wears shirt Dsquared2, top (worn under) and necklace his own.

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