Last Friday night at Broken City, local independent music collective FOONYAP and The Roar showed Calgarians why "vampire-sex-metal-disco" may very well become their new favourite musical genre.
Frontwoman Carol Yap, a University of Calgary communications student who also rounds out the string section of Calgary indie-folk staple Woodpigeon, has seen her first album, the exploratory The Mes, The Mys and The Swimming Pool, mature into a much bigger, stronger force of "dance-disco awesomeness." Influenced by university courses on western society and communications, FOONYAP and The Roar's new self-titled album takes on far-from-trivial topics, such as sex, mega-churches and Hegel.
Yap herself is a self-proclaimed monster and a living representation of feminism, intelligence, rebellion and performance art.Â The Roar features a bevy of talented local musicians, hand-picked by Yap herself and collaborating to produce a genre-spanning sound that incorporates 1950s pop, disco, metal, rock ballads and surf-rock. FOONYAP and The Roar are "blood, glitter and vampires" -- their sets are spontaneous, messy and pure fun.
Nowhere was this more evident than at Broken City last Friday. The biggest surprise, to both Yap and the crowd, was the unplanned revelation of Yap's breasts as the result of a wardrobe malfunction -- tube tops have a good sense of humour. For three songs, Yap continued to perform, oblivious to the social boundaries she had just breached. When she finally became aware of her exposed chest, she removed the top completely and threw it into the crowd as if to say "So what?!" Her sister, present in the audience, looked like she might need smelling salts.
In a questionably coincidental twist during our pre-show conversation, Yap and I discussed whether or not she should expose her breasts during a performance. She indicated that, though she would want to do so, she would want to ensure she was making a statement of empowerment on behalf of females. I suppose the best way to plunge into an assault on misogyny is to let fate play a role.Â
Yap, however, thought it was more a question of proactivity than simply letting fate run its course.
"Women are owning their sexuality instead of having their sexuality dictated to them by [a] misogynistic society . . . when you assert your own sexuality, the division of gender becomes questionable."
This was a lot to ponder under dim bar lights, and Yap's about to give us a lot more to think about in the coming year. She plans to release a solo album under the name "FOONYAP," as well as a comic book about growing up in a traditional Chinese family and living under the watchful gaze of a strict mother.
FOONYAP and The Roar, however, will be going on a hiatus as one band member is getting married, another is going to be a sailor, and -- according to Yap -- her and her boyfriend/bandmate Mike Gratton are going to play Mario Kart. But rest assured, you can still listen to their tunes as immortalized on the internet at myspace.com/FOONYAPandTheRoar.