Jolyon Webber caught up with Northern Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance in London to discuss the release of his first EP in five years
Foy Vance has probably been on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream (whatever that means these days) for a while now. His first full album Hope was released in 2007 but it’s only now that the Northern Irish singer/songwriter has produced anything like a follow up. The Melrose EP is a collaboration between Vance and David Holmes, Hollywood’s go-to man for soundtracks, and was originally made in 2010 for the low budget short film The Shore, by director Terry George. The film won this year’s Academy Award for Best Live Action Short and has seemingly become the springboard for a new chapter in Vance’s career as he embarks on tours with some of pop’s biggest names.
Jolyon Webber: Am I right in thinking the Melrose EP is the first release in five years?
Foy Vance: Yeah, there have been lots of different little bits and pieces, limited edition things, but this is the first proper release. What I was doing with David was actually producing a whole album. But he was busy and I was busy and we could never spend more than a few days together – I’d be back to London or he’d be back to LA. It was recorded over a period of four years, so it was really a labour of love. It was like an experiment, like we were trying to find a sonic world.
Jolyon: Was it picked up by the film subsequently?
Foy: We’d been working on the album and Terry (director) was round at David’s, who was going to do the score, and when he read the script he thought that maybe the stuff we were doing together was right for the film.
“There’s a lot to with the way the industry’s going at the moment.
It kind of reminds me of the church in that it’s irrevocably fucked in a lot of ways”
Jolyon: So what have you been up to in the intervening years?
Foy: Just kind of living really. Seeing friends, doing school runs, making lunches. Doing gigs as well. I went through a rough time with my ex-managers, so it made me a bit loathe to do anything until I got that sorted out, and it’s still not sorted out.
Jolyon: Has that been because of ‘normal’ management artist relationships or do you feel that it’s come as a result of how the music industry is changing?
Foy: There’s a lot to with the way the industry’s going at the moment. It kind of reminds me of the church in that it’s irrevocably fucked in a lot of ways. There’s still a lot of good people, don’t get me wrong, but there was a time when I thought I’d just move to the Highlands and release my own stuff, tour it about, make a few quid and that’d be that. The trouble with some people in the industry is that it becomes about whether it’s radio friendly, all this stuff that doesn’t really matter. You know, I didn’t become a songwriter for any other reason than that I wanted to be a songwriter – it was a way of articulating for me and it’s always been that. I’d be lying though if didn’t admit that I got bitten by the industry bug and it waylaid me somewhat. I quickly realised when I released Hope (2007) that it was the album that I wanted it to be. I don’t want to diss it because I know a lot of people love it but for me, I don’t rate it as an album but I think that’s a good thing to genuinely come to terms with.Jolyon: The time spent away has been productive though?
Foy: Yeah, absolutely. I moved to the highlands earlier this year and I made a point of not putting a studio in my house. I just wanted to have a house and focus on just writing songs, focus on the craft. I felt like that for the last 5 years I was twatting about in the studio too much, doing little B-move scores. A couple of times I wrote and sent songs to other people… I just felt like I was fucking about with logic most of the time as opposed to actually taking the time to think about what I was doing. I realised that I had nothing to say because I was doing nothing basically. It’s taken me a long while to get back to just writing songs.
Jolyon: So you’ve got these tours coming up with big names – Michael Kiwanuka, David Gray, Ed Shearan – pop stars really. How does that all feel?
Foy: That’s all great; I didn’t speak with any of these people. It happened quite serendipitously. I’ve always been fairly jammy as far as tours go. It’ll be interesting with the Ed Shearan because his fan base is not what my fan base is… But they’ll be great. It’s an opportunity for me to go out and play in front of people that I wouldn’t normally play on front of. I’ve learnt now over the years not to underestimate an audience. You might think that because it’s a pop audience I need to do a pop set. But I think now that people now more than ever are more discerning. I’m not going to adapt myself, I’m just going to do my set and maybe when they turn thirteen and get proper pocket money they might go and buy my records.
The Melrose EP is out now Communion Records and for details of all tour dates visit www.foyvance.com