FOONYAP and The Roar
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FOONYAP and The Roar

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"You Were Into Them First #10- FOONYAP"

Nothing about Foon Yap is straight forward. She is a violinist yet grew up hating the instrument. She is classically trained yet focuses her energies on working on folk and when with her band The Roar, a ‘disco spandex celebration’. She is tiny in stature – I have twice seen her piggybacked around the room by Woodpigeon’s Mark Hamilton – yet clearly has the spirit of a grizzly bear.

Having found her feet with Calgary folk collective Woodpigeon, Foon is now exploring other avenues. Her Darling EP is delicate to the point of being brittle in its beauty. All three tracks begin tentatively and maintain a sense of almost tangible fragility and precision in their execution, her plucked and sweeping strings work from Woodpigeon combined with more than a nod to her Chinese heritage. It’s beautiful and stops you in your tracks; you fear to move or even breathe, afraid that any movement may cause it to shatter into a million fragments.

Contrast all that with Foon Yap & The Roar. Gone is the label of ‘Chinese Traditional / Folk / Classical’ which her solo MySpace site applies to her work, replaced with ‘Vampire Sex Metal Disco’. Their EP The Mes, The Mys and The Swimming Pool kicks off innocently enough with the short, electro folk of Introduction and then blows your head off with the manic I Come. There’s barely time to recover during the Talking Headsy Kiiimchee before she has you by the throat again in the synth driven La Foon Nikita. All of your perceived notions about Foon are torn down in less than the eleven minutes of maelstrom which the EP contains. Pow! Thank God for Foon Yap.

Foon Yap waits demurely here.

Foon Yap & The Roar are waiting to get you here. - The Suitcase Orchestra


"U of C student roars in budding group"

U of C student roars in budding group
Woodpigeon violinist Foon Yap's solo outfit Foonyap and the Roar come out strong

Music
Laura Bardsley
Gauntlet Entertainment

March 18, 2010
[Print] Print this story
Foon Yap used to play Foon Yap used to play "dead people music" when she played classical violin at Mount Royal University's academy program.

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Foonyap and the Roar are on fire. For their fourth show they opened for HEALTH, performed at this year's High Performance Rodeo, have fantastic projection art for some of their shows -- all that and they've only been playing together for four months.

Vocalist/violinist Foon Yap started out, well, classically. Taking classical violin from age four she left MRU's academy program one year before finishing. Now she's discovering learning experiences all over the map.

"Leaving [MRU] was the best decision ever," says Yap. "Once I quit the classical world, I became a better musician. Immediately it was freeing."

Yap did not join the Calgary scene the usual way. Instead, she met some people at Broken City, who, noticing her violin, told her that their friend Mark Hamilton, vocalist and songwriter in Woodpigeon, was looking for a violinist. She is still playing with Woodpigeon and plans to go on their upcoming European tour.

"Woodpigeon's been a huge musical influence on my life," says Yap, nestled in her chair outside a cafe. "It's really allowed me the ability to become confident as a performer. As a classical musician, I was so shitty for such a long time that I was a really nervous performer; I wasn't a good performer. [And] I was also playing dead people music. Woodpigeon let me totally hone my performance skills and gain confidence."

Yap claims the band also formed because it's not acceptable to freak out in real life, and she wants to.

"Mostly I just wanted to freak out on stage and wear crazy makeup."

So when preparing for a Foonyap and The Roar show, make a checklist that includes spandex, high-energy, a mind prepared to be blown and some crazy dance moves.

"I practice all my dance moves naked in front of my mirror," says Yap.

The song cycle was first written as a GNST assignment. Yap hopes to record a full-length in the summer and release it soon thereafter.

To create her own band, Yap hand-picked her members mostly by stalking them.

"When I was putting together who I wanted, I just went and spied on Dean for weeks," she admits while giggling. "I went to his ex-boyfriend's show, his Summerlad shows, for like two to three months, just watching him play and stuff, and Garrett too. I was very particular about who I was going to have in my band."

Alongside spying and headhunting, Yap made many connections through Woodpigeon.

"We've done a lot of collaborations between Woodpigeon and The Summerlad, it's been kind of incestuous. As well, I think I did one of those Thursday shows in the summer at Broken City with Garett and thought wow, he's a really good player."

For touring after their ep/lp release, Yap has a few ideas -- mostly stepping out of the country.

"I want to take Foonyap and The Roar over to Europe. What I've learned from Woodpigeon is that there's no use touring Canada. We'll go to Europe as soon as we can."

It's a controversial statement to make because no band says things like that, but she elaborates quite convincingly.

"Well, just, you could tour Canada for fun, but in terms of getting exposure or building a fan base, it's really hard in Canada because all the cities are all so far apart, and if you're driving then [you could be] driving 10 hours to play for like 10 people," says Yap. "It's just not worth it. But in Europe, you can just take the train from city to city, so it's easier." - The Gauntlet Undergraduate Student News Weekly


"On Hegel and swimming pools"

“I hated violin,” says violinist Foon Yap, who took up her instrument at the tender age of four. “I never practised. I was always late for rehearsals; always smoking in the practise rooms…. I hated everything about classical music. Now that I look back, it’s nothing to do with the music, I was probably just an angry kid.”

The daughter of traditionally minded Chinese parents (her mother is from Hong Kong and her father is Malaysian, of Chinese descent), music came into Yap’s life as a form of discipline, rather than creative expression. “I remember wanting to play violin just because everyone older than me, like my sisters and cousins, played violin,” she says. “Then I started and I realized how not fun it was. We used to get spanked if we didn’t practise. We weren’t allowed to play sports because of my hands. I remember gym class, it was like, ‘Watch out for your hands, you’re a violinist,’ or ‘Always wear your mittens.’ ”

At 17, just one year away from completing her Royal Conservatory certificate, Yap dropped out and terminated her formal musical education, pursuing a path quite different from the one her parents had hoped and expected.

Now, Yap is best known to Calgary audiences for her work with baroque folk ensemble Woodpigeon. Her tenure began like so many other local indie rock stories: “I was drunk one night at Broken City, and I had my violin on me,” she recalls. “The club was packed and I needed to sit down. I crawled across this table and introduced myself to all these guys, and they were like, “‘Hey our friend needs a violinist for his CD release.’”

Three rehearsals later, Yap joined Mark Hamilton and company onstage for the release of Woodpigeon’s debut, Songbook. “My relationship to violin changed when I started playing with Woodpigeon,” she acknowledges. With her years of disciplined study, combined with a rekindled passion for musical expression, Yap quickly became a force to be reckoned with. The past year has been particularly profound for her creative journey.

“I think for me, the turning point was when we did a show of Bjork covers for last year’s High Performance Rodeo,” she says. “It went over really well. I thought, ‘Oh, I can actually sing, like in a way that’s not lame.’ ”

For this year’s Rodeo, Yap debuted her song cycle, The Mes The Mys and the Swimming Pool, a conceptual multimedia performance with her band, The Roar, which includes members of The Summerlad and Woodpigeon. Surprisingly, Yap only began writing songs last May, and The Roar has been playing together for a scant three months.

The music for the song cycle is full of yelping dance-punk and no-wave noise, a dramatic departure from Yap’s other project. Despite the intensity, though, the concept behind the cycle is decidedly cerebral. “I was really taken by Hegel,” Yap explains. “The Mes and the Mys relate to Hegel’s idea that we’re unaware [of the forces that direct our lives]. Our idea of us existing as individuals is a social construct. Other societies don’t have that. Other societies don’t grow up with people telling them that they’re individuals — you’re special, you’re unique. A lot of other societies, people grow up telling them, you do this, you do that and you never have that sense of individuality. The swimming pool, in the song cycle, is the force of reason. Everything you do, every conflict you have is the force of reason trying out every single path in the universe.”

She concedes the influence of the cultural clash that has shaped her perspective and creative vision. Like a swimming pool, it’s definitely deep. “My family is very strict, very religious,” she says. “On one side, I have a culture where there really is no sense of ‘I.’ But I live in this culture where there is this sense of ‘I.’ Growing up with these social constructs, we think that we’re in control, but really, who knows what’s beneath us?” - Fast Forward Weekly Calgary


Discography

Limited EP Release:
The Mes, The Mys, and The Swimming Pool: Rehearsal Sessions

Streaming on http://radio3.cbc.ca/#/bands/FOONYAP-and-The-Roar

Exurbia streaming on http://www.myspace.com/foonyapandtheroar

Photos

Bio

FOONYAP and The Roar is the ambitious solo project of Woodpigeon violinist, FOONYAP. Backed by members of the Summerlad and Woodpigeon, she boils disco, hardcore, and opera into a spandex dance celebration.

FOONYAP is influenced by years of classical violin training, and dedication to making music her mother would not be proud of. On stage, she becomes a velociraptor, screaming one song, and cooing the next.

FOONYAP and The Roar challenges you to better dance moves than FOONYAP, who practices naked in her room.