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Foon Yap used to play "dead people music" when she played classical violin at Mount Royal University's academy program.
courtesy Foon Yap

U of C student roars in budding group

Woodpigeon violinist Foon Yap's solo outfit Foonyap and the Roar come out strong

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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."

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