If you clicked on this article, you’ve probably heard vaultboy’s massively popular song “Everything sucks.” It’s an anthem about heartbreak and the feeling of life after a relationship when it seems like nothing, even things you used to enjoy, are worth doing anymore. But before vaultboy ever launched his pop career, he was a folk singer songwriter by the name of Jeremiah Daly, who honed his songwriting and melodic skills. It’s those years of performance that shaped him as an artist. Here’s a bit more of the past that shapes the present day star “vaultboy.”
Daly grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. Back in 2016 I had a chance to sit down with Daly and interview him before a house show in Akron, Ohio. Daly had a very down-to-earth sense about him. Each story he told, either in our conversation or later in the acoustic folk performance, dripped with sincerity and authenticity. His sense of melody struck me as profound from day one. Songs like “Ashes” and “The darkness will be over soon” had a pop sentiment to them but utilized more of a folk production style. More than just the music, though, Daly clearly had a gift for capturing the emotions of deeply personal experiences to make them accessible to listeners as well. I can’t help but wonder if that young, talented songwriter ever dreamed of the star he would become.
After releasing a few albums in his promising early career, Daly took up a new vocational direction on the streaming platform YouNow. There he combined two of his loves, music and gaming. Utilizing the technology of live streaming, Daly connected directly with his audience while playing popular video games some days and writing music on other days. He would invite his viewers to give suggestions and feedback while he wrote music live on the air. It was a delightful experience for viewers and helped to sharpen Daly’s focus as a songwriter. His infectious smile and jovial spirit showed that he was a natural entertainer, while his relatable personality made “J” feel like everyone’s friend. Approachable, kind, and singing songs about feelings we’ve all had about ourselves and our relationships, Daly was destined to connect with an even larger audience.
Shortly after ending his YouNow streaming career, Daly began a new project called “vaultboy” based on the character from the Fallout video game series. Even his now-signature bleached-blond hair comes from the iconic character from the game. While vaultboy music can be found all over the internet now, when initially launched the music was primarily available on TikTok videos and a rapidly growing YouTube channel. The whole release seemed to be tailor made for a younger, tech savvy audience. The stylistic decisions moved away from the simpler acoustic styles of Daly’s personal career into a dynamic pop production style more in the vein of Justin Bieber, Jason Derulo, and the Weeknd, all artists that vaultboy covers on the channel.
From these pop covers, vaultboy took off with expressive songwriting that pulled listeners in. It takes an exceptional track to stand out on a quick TikTok video, but that’s exactly what happened when the bouncy and whimsical, “Everything sucks” began cropping up on a number of videos in the summer of 2021. Fans of vaultboy heard an initial 28 second demo of the song on his YouTube channel where he asked if he should finish it. Obviously the comments encouraged him to finish and release the song, which was a fantastic decision. As the popularity around the song rose, new followers blew up for the emerging artist, bring his TikTok followers to over 1.3 million and his YouTube subscribers to over 250,000.
As we follow the continued career of this fascinating artist, it is important to highlight that the success comes from a real sense of authenticity in the songwriting. In vaultboy’s “songwriting challenges” it is evident that he uses real life examples as inspiration to the songs, which is why listeners are able to find them so accessible. Whether it’s a song about a breakup, struggling with depression, or having a best friend move away, there’s a depth of human connection at the heart of each track. If you’ve ever been conflicted about your social life and struggled with how you are perceived by loved ones in your life, vaultboy’s music will be sure to strike a chord.
Give him a follow. Enjoy the songwriting process from idea to post-success interview. To his credit, vaultboy is giving fans unprecedented access to the rise of a fascinating pop star. Enjoy it!