Story by Andrea Wong
Photos by Will Geier
Following the success of her earlier Asian folk electronica albums, FOONYAP’s latest music video is nothing short of hauntingly beautiful. Animated by director Katie Yuen, “Mourning Coup” is a stunning visual piece that navigates the tension in revisiting internal struggle and fluidity in the courageous search for self-awareness.
The song, whose title was dedicated to an artist and close friend of the same name, is a remix by An Ant And An Atom from FOONYAP’s EP Apropros. Reverberating layers of drones, textured synths, and transcendent melodies of longing and pain embody the spirit of confronting difficult emotions and growing from them.
“We have this romantic idea that you can just let your past go and redo yourself,” Foon Yap explains. “But I realized that you actually can’t. What I needed to do was go back and look at the way my childhood and my experiences had affected my perception of the world now and to make conscious decisions about which parts I was going to keep and which parts I was going to change.”
Comparable to resetting a bone, Yap’s arduous process of healing delves into dark, clouded periods from her past. Growing up in Calgary as a talented classical violinist, she struggled with swelling pressures of success and depression, a cycle which eventually led to quitting the Conservatory and dropping out of high school. But in reaching her breaking point, Yap was able to find a new sound.
Although a career in the arts had never been encouraged, series of moments inched her towards full-time music. “Mourning Coup” first appeared on FOONYAP’s 2016 album Palempsest, which was a culmination of rediscovering her spirituality and heritage and also reconciling the brokenness in her life.
“For women, there are particular challenges in taking up space and saying how we really feel and having the courage to be honest about our needs. I was taught to be passive because that was a quality that was considered more feminine, but with Palimpsest I’m learning continually to be assertive and to practice emotional integrity.”
Now, when Yap steps into the space of her music, every movement, every sound is focussed with intention. She moves between her violin and electric mandolin like a fluid dance, the poignant bends in her notes mirrored by the rise and fall of her lyrics, echoing the vulnerability she has grown into.
“I love creating opportunities for stillness in my life and in my performances … I can let go of anxiety. I can let go of worrying about the future. I can just present myself and accept myself as I am in that moment, and that radical self-acceptance has been a skill I’ve been able to practice throughout my whole life.”