Belfast Telegraph

Questions and answers: Singer-songwriter Foy Vance

By Edwin Gilson

The 40-year-old singer-songwriter plays two hometown shows at Bangor Abbey next week as part of the Open House Festival

You're recording your shows at Open House for a live album. You must be hoping for two special nights

I'm really looking forward to the gigs. I remember going to the Abbey from my primary school in Clandeboye. It's got a personal history for me as well as a larger Irish history, so it's going to be a bit nostalgic. I don't remember ever doing a proper gig in Bangor; it's usually Belfast or Derry. I don't want to overbake the pudding, or put too much pressure on it, but I've got high hopes for the shows.

You're currently in Los Angeles and you live in Aberfeldy in Scotland. Do you get back to Northern Ireland much these days?

I certainly don't meet my Northern Irish music friends as much as I'd like to. I don't even have the time to talk to my own mother let alone anyone else! She's a classic mum, in that she doesn't like much music apart from mine.

Have you witnessed any of the reaction from your Northern Ireland Music Prize win last year?

I haven't seen much reaction, but then I haven't been back to Northern Ireland much! I don't see that a lot has changed for me because of it. I think the people that noticed the award are probably the media and music fans generally; I don't imagine many plumbers would have heard of the prize, for example.

How are you enjoying LA?

I'm loving it. I'm just sitting by the pool staring out at the Pacific Ocean as we speak. I've been touring since January, and I hadn't been home to see my girlfriend or daughter much. I don't really do holidays, I haven't been on one for ages, so we thought we'd come out to LA for a catch-up. My daughter's put up with a lot this year with me not being at home. I'm also writing a bit for the new record and playing a few gigs, so it's perfect, really.

To what extent do you feel like you've 'cracked' America?

Well I'm not a 17-year-old rap-writer who sings about everything from cancer to divorce, so the idea of me cracking America is not quite relevant. In fact, I feel like I've already cracked America because I'm able to gig here and people are paying me to do that. The last tour that we did here was a sell-out, and the biggest crowd was 700 people in New York. It's going alright over here, boss!

Are you still enjoying playing songs from yor album Joy of Nothing, or can it get a little wearing?

It's important to live in the moment and enjoy yourself on stage. If you're going up there thinking 'Ah, I'm sick of all this', then you shouldn't be doing this job. Get out of the business!

Sorry, that wasn't aimed at you. I have met musicians that are sick of the job, but you've got to surround yourself with good people. If you're surrounded by people blowing smoke up your a** then you can start to believe that you are great. Just look at Justin Bieber! Joy is pretty easy to have, and if you're not feeling it then you're not appreciating what you've got enough.

  • Foy Vance plays Bangor Abbey next Monday and Tuesday. For details, visit

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