These days, taking five minutes to set up a MySpace page can land an artist a record deal. Being featured in a motion picture can help your band change the lives of moviegoers everywhere. And certainly, having your song set the mood for a poignant scene in Grey's Anatomy
can make North America take note and listen.
From the reaches of his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, singer-songwriter Foy Vance did just that, worming his way into the hearts of viewers of America's favourite primetime dramedy. Since then, cries for the immediate release of his song "Gabriel and the Vagabond" have permeated the internet.
But while America has had its first taste of Vance (he also played SXSW in March) the musician is currently far away from these lands. Speaking to Soul Shine from a "shifty hotel" in Antwerp, Belgium on his final dates supporting Bonnie Raitt on her UK and European tour, Vance revealed that won't always be the case.
"I think you guys are a lot more open to songwriters, to artistsóto a singer being an artist and that being their chosen form of expression," he said. "I really think that's where music like mine is really welcomed. I think in British culture, there's a whole, 'What's hip and what's slick?' And I know that's pretty universal, but it seems to be less the case with America and Canada."
For now though, Vance is concentrating on the United Kingdom. His second EP, Watermelon Oranges
, is about to drop, and excitement abounds. "With other records I've released, if I've been slightly unsure if it's a good representation of what I'm about, then I get nervous. But I feel like this is quite representative of what's happening, so I think if people don't like it then they don't like me, and that's fair enough."
Armed with a deep, bluesy voice and an acoustic guitar, Vance's very best asset could well be his ability to write deeply personal lyrics. Extremely articulate and well-spoken, it was the passing of his father seven years ago that caused the songwriting floodgates to burst open.
"I sat down that day and within 10 minutes, andóexcuse the expressionó almost vomited the song ["Cryin' In The Night"] out. It just came out. It wasn't like giving birth; it was a bit more horrific than that. That sort of gushing hasn't stopped since then.
"I've always felt since that day I've almost been accosted by songs. But I've learned how to tamper it a bit more, and it's a bit more like giving birth now. It's a bit more of a pleasant experience now that I know how to deal with the flow of it."
A musician in the truest sense, Vance takes his art quite seriously, and views it as just that: art. In fact, all Foy Vance really cares about is his music, none of that fame and fortune stuff. And with Vance, you get the sense that he's one of those rare musicians that isn't lying through his teeth on that front.
"What this is about for me is making something happen in a roomóthat's what it's always about. That's what it's about in theatre, that's what it's about when you hang a painting, when people walk in an exhibition space. You're trying to create something in that room."
"I take the music from the first note to the last note, I take it very seriously. Not that everything I sing is really sombre and serious, but it's very poignant for me. It's as poignant an experience for me as I hope it is for the listener when I'm doing it.
Believing that everyone, (even you), has at least one good song in them, Vance acknowledges the higher power of the form. "I kind of get caught up in a world, and the music creates thatóI'm not suggesting that I create that. I think music is this thing that happens and either you click into it or you don't."
But before you go off thinking Foy Vance is some beret-wearing pretentious artiste, take a moment to check out his MySpace blog
. Full of tales from the road (including the tragic destruction of his guitar on Ryanair), Vance takes the time to connect on a more human level.
"I think [the blog] just gives the whole thing a bit of realism, and a sense that I'm not any different than anyone else just because I'm an artist," he explains. "So I guess what I'm trying to say is that [music] is so intense, that I feel it's important to let people to know that I'm not up my own arse!"
Along with music, Vance has an interest in film, and recently shot a series of short films to keep his "Toilet Tour" alive (yes, it's just what it sounds like). "I picked certain songs to play in certain toilets around Belfast that have some sort of relevance to me," he said of the side-project. "It's going to be a webcast for five nights on the countdown to the release of the EP [Watermelon Oranges
And never fear: those desperate calls for "Gabriel and the Vagabond" haven't gone unheard by Vance. He informed Soul Shine that the track will be on iTunes promptly (although North American fans will most likely have to shop from the UK store), where his first EP Live Sessions and the Birth of the Toilet Tour
is also available.
Until Watermelon Oranges
is put on shelves June 19th, listen to Foy Vance here
, and catch the webcast of the five Toilet Tour short films at www.foysnoise.com