Ireland’s singer-songwriter Foy Vance has been pleasing our ears for years now. With his debut record Hope (released back in 2007), along with his latest album Joy Of Nothing (2013), there’s a certain charm and irresistible vocal talent the artist carries. Before he hits the stage tonight to play a sold out show at Toronto’s The Drake, I had the lovely opportunity of speaking with Foy Vance over the phone this morning. Dig into our conversation below as we spoke about filming a video underwater, evolving as a songwriter, and his North American tour.
AMBY: You’re currently about to finish up a North American tour. How’s the tour treating you so far?
Foy Vance: So far, so good. It’s been great; I’ve enjoyed every gig. More people have come out than I had expected, so that was a nice bonus.
AMBY: And what have been some of the highlights?
Foy Vance: Some of the highlights… Well, Seattle was a major highlight; it was such a beautiful venue and a beautiful crowd. So that was good, Nashville was good, LA was great. Some of the drives have been a bit brutal, but I’ve even enjoyed that. There have been some pretty impressive drives.
AMBY: Tonight you’re actually playing a sold out show at The Drake in Toronto. And then you’re heading on a European tour which is ahead of you shortly. What are you most looking forward to regarding the tour?
Foy Vance: Regarding the European tour, I’m most looking forward to Belfast because I did an album launch in London and one in New York and I didn’t get to do one in Belfast. This will be the first time I’ve played there since the album has been released. So I’m really looking forward to getting home, you know?
AMBY: Alright. Well, I just mentioned how you have a sold out show tonight. So before you go on stage to play a gig, what’s your pre-show ritual?
Foy Vance: You know what? I’m not really superstitious so I don’t really have a pre-show ritual, per-say. I like to just sort of go with what feels right. Usually I’m holding a glass of something though…
AMBY: [laughs] Of course I want to bring up the music now. Your second record Joy of Nothing came out back in August of this year. What is the significance behind the LP’s name? I know it’s the title track off of the album.
Foy Vance: Yea. I guess it’s just about essentially where I’m at right now. I moved up to the highlands of Scotland last year, or a couple years ago, actually. And when I got there, I haven’t lived in London in seven years and all of that noise and pollution… The second I arrived, I had a real sense of everything slowing down— a feel of silence, and peace, and a sense of nothingness. I think if you can enjoy the day to day, it’s not really the joy of nothingness, as much as it is as the joy of one day. I like making sandwiches, I like making cups of tea [laughs], I like lighting fires, you know? If you like those things, everything else seems more exciting, doesn’t it?
AMBY: For sure, thanks for sharing. Now that there’s been a few months since the album’s release, what are your thoughts on the record?
Foy Vance: Whether it’s a good record or a bad record, well received or not, it’s an articulate record as far as I’m concerned— I think that was the key and that is what I had set out to do. After releasing the first album, the second I released it I had a bad piece of mind that it hadn’t quite met the mark for me, and I wasn’t really that happy with it. I think there are good songs on it though, so I guess that’s why it took me so long to make another record. I just didn’t want to say anything until I had something to say. And then I realized I had nothing to say, so maybe nothing is worth talking about.
AMBY: And you mentioned how there are some great tracks on the album, and I couldn’t agree more. So as far as songwriting goes, how do you feel you’ve evolved as a songwriter since the release of your debut Hope?
Foy Vance: I don’t know if I can track the evolution or anything [laughs], but I think it’s more… I’ve always written, always, and I’ve always found it easy to write. I think writing songs is easy, what’s hard is writing a good one. That’s where it gets difficult, and I’ve found that in the last couple of years I write more songs for me, something more sound, where before 80% of what I’d write would never see the light of day because it was just terrible [laughs].
AMBY: The video for the album’s opening track Closed Hand, Full of Friends premiered earlier this month, and it’s visually stunning. What was the experience like filming underwater?
Foy Vance: Cold. Colder than a well diggers ass!
Foy Vance: It was cold. I had to be underwater for a good part of the afternoon, so I couldn’t feel by fingers by the end of it; it took me a good few hours after a warm shower and sitting out by the fire until feeling the heat through my bones. But it was good fun! We actually left the piano there for a day because we were all too cold to put it back on the van, and someone complained about it and the police came around. So I found myself in the middle of a police investigation.
AMBY: Oh, wow [laughs].
Foy Vance: Yea, so I ended up on the BBC News website [laughs], and it was about the mysterious case of the piano in the river.
AMBY: That’s interesting.
Foy Vance: It was, yea [laughs]. I thought it was funny.
AMBY: Some of your songs have appeared in TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Vampire Diaries. If you could feature your music in any TV show or film, which would you choose?
Foy Vance: Wow, my goodness. Any TV show or film. One that’s already passed is The Wire, that would have been a good one to have a song in, wouldn’t it?
AMBY: I’m actually going to start watching that series soon!
Foy Vance: Ohhh, you are in for a treat. I always get excited when people are just starting to watch it or haven’t seen it yet. It’s a great TV show.
AMBY: Good to hear. I just have to buckle down and get through all of the seasons!
Foy Vance: [laughs] As far as a film, I don’t know. Anything by Quentin Tarantino or Woody Allen would be— that would make me very happy.
AMBY: Well, I wanted to mention that there has been a ton of brilliant acts hailing from Ireland lately. Which acts do you think we should we keep our eyes on?
Foy Vance: You know what? There’s one guy in particular that I always mention, and his name is David C. Clements. I don’t know if he’d be touring much, he’s kind of a home bird at heart, but I think that shows in his music; there’s no ego in it, it just is what it is. The songs are beautifully written, and beautifully recorded, and his voice is— I think that he is something very, very special.
AMBY: I haven’t heard of him, but will definitely have to check him out. Thanks for the suggestion. Now, we’re actually at the very last question of the interview! What’s something about Foy Vance that nobody knows yet?
Foy Vance: [laughs] In this day and age, nothing.
AMBY: Nothing? [laughs]
Foy Vance: It’s all over Twitter and everything’s on Facebook! Let me think about something. My middle name is ridiculous. Go and check it somewhere…
Thank you Foy Vance, for giving us your answers!
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout