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
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?