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

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
Arts and Entertainment

Grace Dent on TV

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us