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Foy Vance

Foy Vance

Biography

'An unbelievable voice...in the premier league of British songwriters' The Sunday Times   'The missing link between Richie Havens and Stevie Wonder' The Independent

‘The most important solo musician to emerge from Northern Ireland since Van Morrison’ The Belfast Telegraph    ‘Hugely impressive’ Uncut

‘Hope raises expectations and delivers them to an extent that is rare’ Maverick

Usual tags such as ‘singer-songwriter’, ‘folk-soul’, ‘troubadour’ are perceived with a considerable amount of cynicism these days, especially since the music scene has been saturated with middle of the road artists, marketed as such by traditional record label formulae. Someone with a discerning ear and trust in their own taste should be able to spot who’s the real deal and who’s not.

Leaving tags aside, Foy Vance operates in his own parallel universe. His music is an evolving journey, a constant search for artistic expression captured in the moment, operating well away from industry standards. Surely you’ll hear echoes of Otis Redding, Richie Havens, Tom Waits and Van Morrison in Foy’s music, legends he’s already being compared to and definite influences. An ever so modest Foy will laugh at these comparisons, but then again that’s what makes him so special. With his distinctive, cracked, soulful voice and a skill to write profound storytelling songs, Foy Vance belongs to a calibre of artists that stand the test of time, irrespective of trends or fads, delivering heartfelt songs about the human condition that everyone can relate to.

Foy Vance arrived into the public consciousness in the summer of '05 with the release of his widely acclaimed debut EP 'Live Sessions and the Birth Of The Toilet Tour'. A series of gigs that saw him support such diverse artists as KT Tunstall, Pete Townshend, Joss Stone, The Spinto Band, Tegan & Sara and Taj Mahal, led to two sell out nights at Ronnie Scott's, and these confirmed Foy's status as an outstanding emerging talent.

These shows amassed a dedicated fanbase and gained the Bangor born Foy support and admiration from his peers, including nine times Grammy Award winning Bonnie Raitt, who invited him to support her as ‘special guest’ on her 21 date UK/European tour in April '06

An overwhelming response from US and Canadian audiences, due to the airing of two of Foy's songs ('Homebird' and 'Gabriel And The Vagabond') on the cult networked TV drama series Grey's Anatomy and a showcase at SXSW, led to a huge demand for the release of 'Gabriel And The Vagabond' in the US, and the inclusion of 'Homebird' on the Grey's Anatomy 2 Original Soundtrack album.

In June 2006 Foy released a second limited edition EP 'Watermelon Oranges', which was supported by various live dates including Wireless, Oxegen, gigs with Dave Matthews, and an appearance with Pete Townshend and Martha Wainwright at Joe's Pub in New York as part of Pete and Rachel Fuller's ‘In The Attic’ sessions. Now ‘Homebird’, from one of those sessions, is one of the tracks on the ‘Attic Jam’ compilation album released in February '07 as an exclusive itunes download featuring The Magic Numbers, Razorlight, Fratellis, Zutons and Flaming Lips amongst many others.

December 2006 saw Foy's 'Indiscriminate Act Of Kindness' being chosen as the sound-bed to the Great Ormond Street Hospital TV commercial for their Christmas appeal and Foy headlining a string of UK dates.

Having spent the first half of 2007 recording his debut album in a cottage on the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland, Foy re-emerged in May for a jaw-dropping performance accompanied by Ulster’s 70-piece Symphony Orchestra at BBC’s Orchestral Manouevres sell-out concert in Belfast which also featured Duke Special.

Foy’s debut album ‘Hope’ was released in August 2007 to wide critical acclaim. The album was written, performed, recorded, produced and mixed by Foy himself. Tchad Blake who is best known for his work with Pearl Jam, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello has also contributed to the mixing of some tracks.

‘Hope’ musically flows like a live session and it brings out Foy’s soul, blues, gospel and jazz influences soaked up while growing up in Oklahoma but also from spending time in Alabama and New Orleans with his preacher father who played an intrinsic part in the way Foy observes the world. Lyrically, Foy has an amazing talent for telling great stories in a song, as is so poignantly demonstrated in ‘Indiscriminate Act of Kindness’ and ‘Gabriel and the Vagabond’. The album has many highlights including the southern-fried funk of album opener ‘Be with Me’, the Led Zeppelin meets Donna Summer groove of ‘Hope, Peace & Love’ and the rhythm & blues of ‘Shed a little light’. Heartfelt songs such as ‘Treading Water’, ‘I Was Made’ and ‘First of July’ complete an eclectic package of beautifully crafted songs.

The media coverage that followed included the Belfast Telegraph naming Foy ‘the most important solo musician to emerge from Northern Ireland since Van Morrison’ in addition to glowing reviews from publications as diverse as Uncut, Maverick, The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Mail among many others.

Kicking 2008 off, Foy was invited to perform at iTunes’ Live Sessions at the legendary AIR Studios in Hampstead at the end of February alongside KT Tunstall, Billy Bragg and Leo Abrahams – a live recording of the session will be available exclusively on iTunes.

Having just completed a successful tour of Ireland and the UK Foy flew out to the US this March where he performed at The Craic Music & Film Festival in NYC, then headed down to play a show in Nashville en route to SXSW.

April 2008 saw the release of two new tracks – both re-working of tracks from ‘Hope’. A re-worked version of “Shed A Little Light”-produced by Future Cut (Lily Allen,Dizzy Rascal etc.) and a complete re-recording of “Be With Me” produced by The Free Association a.k.a. David Holmes

Early Background

Foy Best Vance was born in 1974 in Bangor Co-Down in Ireland. However before Foy was even a year old, his preacher-man father along with his mother and three elder brothers had packed up their belongings and caught the boat to America, the land of the free.

Relocating to Oklahoma, Mr Preacher-man preached the length and breadth of the vast country with family in tow. It was in the black churches of the South that young Foy soaked up the deep riches of the southern roots and started to sing. Music was Foy’s only outlet and it didn’t take long for his folks to notice that their boy had a special gift. That’s when the preacher-man taught him how to play the 12 bar blues, a moment which proved to be a milestone for Foy. ‘I was brought up hearing all manner of music and poetry. My father loved literature and music and would often initiate a sing-song when the family were together, but what stood out more to me were the times you would find him alone in a room singing and playing guitar. Eyes closed and feeling it, this was something different. He sang different. It sounded different’.

Foy always knew that he wanted to sing and write music – after the family moved back to Ireland 6-7 years later and living on a working-men’s estate in Bangor, his only exposure to music was artists on TV and radio. ‘They all seemed so other-worldly that I assumed that they were born into the life they led, which when translated, meant there was no hope for me’. So he carried on playing and singing in private for his own pleasure - It was perhaps this that has led to Foy’s ability to perform as if for an audience of one, regardless of the reality.

Foy cut his teeth gigging all over Ireland and Scotland with a band which didn’t prove enough to satisfy his musical aspirations. It was around this time that he took a renewed interest in his father’s acoustic although the soul flavours have never left him. Upon meeting his muse in the form of an aspiring Belfast artist, Joanne Shaw (now Joanne Vance), he began to immerse himself in his art form – he discovered the beauty and importance of song; ‘Songwriting for me is an organic free-flowing experience. Rather than having a preconceived plan for putting a song together I try to open up and let things flow naturally’.

Foy also explored possibilities of not only writing but exhibiting his work which he did extensively in various outfits. Most notably in a band called ‘Columbo’ who stole the show at ‘Belfest’ (annual Belfast festival) and then split up! Foy was again a nomad, seeking the next venture. As nothing happens by accident in Foy’s world it was around this time that he was offered a regular slot at a bar in Lanzarote, Canary Islands after a member of the audience saw him perform at the Dirty Duck, just outside Belfast. Coincidentally Foy was already going to Lanzarote a week later for his honeymoon!

After a week in Lanzarote the newly wed Vances’ decided that they would accept the offer and stay put – Joanne would concentrate on her art and Foy would use the time to do some soul searching, deciding where to go next with his music. A couple of months later and another milestone moment arrived for Foy – 1am, 30 January ’99. On that night Foy was performing at the usual venue in Lanzarote. One of the things Foy often does live is to put himself on the edge, being forced to get caught up in the moment and improvise a new song in front of an audience. At that particular moment the lyrics ‘Jesus is coming like a thief in the night’ jumped out of him and suddenly he was consumed with a deep sadness. He finished the gig, went home and spent the whole night crying without any particular reason. The next morning he finds out that back in Ireland his beloved father suffered a sudden heart attack and passed away at 1am.

As soon as this happened songs just started pouring out of Foy, he immediately finished the song he started improvising the night before, now named ‘Crying In The Night’, and eight months later he had another 40 or so songs ready to go; ‘When my father died all these songs just started pouring out of me…my father’s passing had left a huge gap that I had to fill’. He had enough material for at least 4 albums and more songs just kept coming. In some kind of a twisted way Foy now had the answers he was searching for – it was at that time he decided that he had to do something significant with his music.

In Foy’s world nothing happens by accident, and it was in this manner that the people who launched Joss Stone (Brian Freshwater and Jacqueline Hughes) came across some of his recordings. ‘The studio manager at Intimate Studios (Wapping) insisted that we listen to some tracks a new artist had been working on. Stunned by what we heard we went on a mission to track the man down’, Brian says. ‘When we first saw Foy playing live we knew he was the real deal. The way he communicates his wonderful poignant songs, with his astonishing, emotive soul voice just gives you goose bumps. We immediately recognised that this was an authentic artist with something special to convey’.

Notes

Born in Bangor in Northern Ireland in 1974 Released his debut EP ‘Live Sessions and the Birth of the Toilet Tour’, August 2005 Supported Pete Townshend, Taj Mahal, KT Tunstall, Tegan & Sara, The Spinto Band and Joss Stone throughout 2005 Performed two sell out shows at Ronnie Scott’s towards the end of 2005 Invited as Bonnie Raitt’s special guest on her 21 date UK/European tour, April 2006 Released second EP, ‘Watermelon Oranges’, June 2006 Appeared alongside Pete Townshend and Martha Wainwright at Joe’s Pub in New York, September 2006 ‘Indiscriminate Act of Kindness’ was chosen as the sound bed to the Great Ormond Street Hospital TV commercial, Christmas 2006 ‘Homebird’ featured on Pete Townshend’s and Rachel Fuller’s ‘Attic Jam’ compilation released, February 2007 Performed at the Nimic Presentation at the Knitting Factory in New York, Spring, 2007 Songs ‘Gabriel and the Vagabond’ and ‘Homebird’ selected and featured on networked drama series ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (Spring 2007 – UK) Performed at BBC’s Orchestral Manouevres with Ulster’s 70-piece Symphony Orchestra in Belfast, May 2007 Single ‘Be With Me’ released in June 2007 Debut album ‘Hope’ released August 2007 Toured the UK & Ireland, February 2008 Performed at iTunes Live Sessions with KT Tunstall, Billy Bragg and Leo Abrahams, February 2008 Upcoming performance at The Craig Music & Film Festival, NYC – March 2008 Upcoming performance in Nashville followed by SXSW – March 2008 Double A Side Single featuring re-recordings of ‘Be With Me’ (produced by The Free Association a.k.a. David Holmes) and Shed A Little Light’ (produced by Future Cut) released April 2008 . “Shed a Little Light” goes onto the Radio 2 “B” List for 4 weeks, and is very well supported by the station.

http://www.foysnoise.com/ / http://www.myspace.com/foyvance

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