Ed Sheeran & Foy Vance: ‘We both love a drink, so there’s never been a time hanging out when I’ve gone to bed before 5am’

 

Foy Vance, 38

The Northern Irish musician (right in picture), released his first single in 2006 and has since seen his tracks appear on US TV shows including ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Vampire Diaries’. He has also toured with Ed Sheeran  in the UK and the US. He lives in Scotland

I heard about this great wee guy who was just getting a record deal together in early 2011, and he was looking for songs. He sent me  some of his stuff, sort of half-rap, half-indie, and he asked me to write some songs for him.  I could see there was truth in his songs, but  they were a different style to mine, and I didn’t think there was anything I could have added.

We met in person at the Arthur’s Day festival in Dublin. After the performances we had a few drinks and handed a guitar back and forth, playing our songs; I knew instantly that he was a special guy with real heart.

Afterwards, he invited me on his UK tour, which was where I really got to know him. I’ve never played to that kind of audience before. But seeing Ed with them, 21 years old with the world at his feet, knowing what to do – it was impressive. He’d always finish his set with my song “Guiding Light”; it’s a nice tip of the hat when someone else plays your song – and if he hadn’t, no one would ever have heard of me.

With the type of shows he sings, and with the song lyrics being so sensitive, he does  seem like an unlikely sex symbol. The media rarely picks a guy-next-door type such as Ed.

Musically, we have a lot of common ground with regards to Irish music [Sheeran’s paternal grandparents were Irish], but on the road he played loads of hip-hop and gangsta-rap stuff and I thought, “Wow, I didn’t expect that; he knows it all inside out!” And from what I’ve heard from his new album, it sounds like he’s moved his own music on in that direction, too.

I still can’t get my head around how he gets away with being this ginger-haired white English kid that raps, but it works – maybe as he’s not trying to be England’s Eminem.

After the UK tour I went with him on his  US tour. The poor fella moves around so  much now that he hardly knows where he lives. But he’s a caring guy and when I had  a difficult time earlier on this year, we’d sit  and chat till late in the night – he’s a wise  fellow and he’s been very supportive, which  is a beautiful quality.

We’ve duetted on “Guiding Light” on  some shows [in America], but I also sang it at the funeral of [Derry community leader] John McDaid, as Ed and I are close to his son, [Snow Patrol musician] Johnny. It became a family anthem, with the lyrics written in Old Irish on the gravestone. Ed said we should each get  this “Guiding Light” tattoo, written in Gaelic. So one afternoon in Pittsburgh, we took the afternoon off and found a tattooist: I wrote  out Ed’s and he wrote out mine. That’s when  I realised, it’s become a bit of a bromance.

Ed Sheeran, 22

Sheeran’s first album, ‘+’ in 2011, sold more than 1 million copies and netted him two Brit awards, for Best British Male and British Breakthrough , with his single ‘The A Team’ winning him an Ivor Novello award for songwriting. He is currently touring America as the opening act of Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’ tour

I first saw Foy performing at Hay about six years ago. I was the guitar technician for the band Nizlopi, and I was hanging around with them in a tent where this dude was on stage;  I was transfixed by his voice. I asked his crew who he was. Because of their Irish accents, initially I thought they’d said “Five Ants” so  I spent a long time Googling that. Eventually  I figured it out and bought his album.

The day we first met was 2007, at the Norwich Arts Centre, where he’d performed  a gig. He probably remembers first meeting me in 2011 in Dublin, on Arthur’s Day. But I’d gone to 30 of his shows by that point and was well versed in his music. He was very polite, but as a singer-songwriter to a fan, all you’re going to say is, “Hey man, how are you, here’s a picture, thanks for coming, see you later.” But I wanted to say, “I write tunes! Let’s sit down and talk.” I didn’t want to meet him again till he had heard of me.

So when I was doing a series of shows at [Dublin music venue] Whelans’ in 2011 and heard Foy was there too, I grabbed him. We had whisky and drunken talk and we passed  a guitar back and forth, sharing songs.

Every time I see him play I get annoyed that more people don’t know about him. You just need the right opportunities and I think it’s going to happen now for Foy.

The UK tour brought us closer together.  I’d make Lego kits with his 10-year-old daughter [who accompanied Vance for the tour], and we wrote six tunes for my new album together. His daughter’s great, too;  I’ve never seen a 10-year-old care less about how famous, say, Niall [Horan] from One Direction is. Niall noticed her in one corner before a gig we were all doing. He thought  she was being shy and went up to her and  said, “Hey, how you doing?” and being nice  he was like, “Would you like a picture?” And she replied, “Naaah!”

We both have Irish blood in us – and a love of drink, so there’s never been a time hanging out with Foy when I’ve gone to bed before 5am. We had this thing the other night round my apartment [in the US] and it turned into  a special night of drinks and food with Foy  and some other friends. Before long we were all sat in a circle with a guitar and everyone played one song: me, Foy, Johnny [McDaid] from Snow Patrol, Ellie Goulding and Taylor [Swift], everyone jamming out.

We may have musical differences – I’ve got more into hip-hop and Eminem; he’s into soul and Ray Charles – but now inspiration comes just being in a room with him and guitar-jamming; with him, songs just come out.

Foy Vance’s latest album, ‘Joy of Nothing’,  is out now

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones