Born in Calgary, FOONYAP is a classically-trained violinist and vocalist with an incomparable sound.
‘When I became an artist-entrepreneur, I committed to making a living by exploring myself. Un-insulated by a steady pay cheque and a constant home, I feel closer to the innumerable shades of joy and disappointment. However, I now know that the more I risk, the more I stand to gain.’
Previously collaborating with Woodpigeon and Art Bergmann, her latest solo release ‘Palimpsest’ is a therapeutic reconciliation with her sheltered Chinese-Catholic heritage and the intense classical music training of her childhood. A haunting and challenging experimental-folk album, ‘Palimpsest’ has “a signature sound that alternates between vibrating lullabies and primordial heart-explosions,” (Discorder), drawing comparisons to Björk, Braids, Lhasa, and Kate Bush. Described by Fader as “a tense and bespoke mixture of swampy electronics, strings, and vocals that flash with a bold volcanic brilliance,” the album captivated audiences across Canada and was named #6 in the Top 30 albums of the year by the Toronto Star.
She had to deal with her fair share of struggles.
‘When I was young I muted my desire to be an artist because I knew my family would disapprove. It was a confusing childhood because I was also enrolled in the conservatory for classical violin and expected to excel. After I left the classical world, I started playing in indie bands and grew into my identity as an artist. More than a year ago, circumstances in my adult life demanded that I risk more than I ever have and I quit my day job.
‘As a female independent thinker, I struggled growing up in the patriarchies of Catholicism, traditional Chinese culture, and classical music. These systems instilled within me a deep sense of inadequacy and guilt – mental scripts that ‘Palimpsest’ rewrites. I’m concerned with developing my consciousness and music is now my means of practice.’Last June, FOONYAP followed up with ‘Apropos’, a four-track remix EP featuring ‘Palimpsest’ reworks. The EP reached #1 and #8 on the !earshot Electronic and Top 50 charts. In support, FOONYAP has been touring extensively with performances at Canadian Music Week, Sled Island, and Pop Montreal. She has also begun capturing international attention. Recently she performed at Reeperbahn (Germany) and has a forthcoming release on Scottish label Song, by Toad.
Whether through dark soundscapes that mirror anxious longing, or powerful electronic rifts, FOONYAP’s work explores painful life transitions.
‘My practice as an artist is to push culture forward through personal transformation. I question which mainstream values serve me and discard the ones that don’t. By publicly presenting my process, I relate to others in my own way. I find that our culture is hungry for new models of relating to one another.’
Southern Alberta and Calgary now sees itself as a region where music forms a part of its identity. Regional and local arts communities were once isolated; I’m now pleased to see their participation in broad initiatives such as public art programs, business partnerships and BRZs. Concurrently, feminist perspectives such as inclusion and diversity form part of mainstream conversations. Loosening of old attitudes have allowed me to share my work with new audiences!’
Foonyap talks of her most memorable experiences in her field of work,
‘Part of my warm-up routine is to pick a personal goal. During a difficult time, I decided to consciously accept every single part of myself, every emotion and flaw. After the show, an individual murmured to me “Thanks for playing. It sounds like you’re accepting every single part of yourself.” Truly music can communicate our most intimate yearnings!
Foonyap has always been passionate about creating art and says,
‘When I’m curious, vulnerable and afraid, I know I’m creating meaningful work. I confront myself in every moment.’
She has been making waves in the music industry and shares some simple advice with aspiring artists.
‘Never put your work in front of your well-being. Prioritize taking care of yourself.’
FOONYAP will be performing Feb 15th at The Ironwood Stage & Grill as part of Blockheater.