In a time of social isolation and uncertainty, one’s physicality may be constrained, but awareness remains free. This discovery of letting go and embracing the present is explored in FOONYAP’s latest single ‘Free And Easy Wandering’, the title of which was taken from a visual and performance art series at Mile Zero Dance (Edmonton, AB, Treaty 6) exploring freedom and identity from the perspective of Asian heritage.
Slowly awakening with a spontaneous flutter of violin trills before drawing into a quiet folk accompaniment of mandolin and wistful vocals, the song’s dreamy melody meanders through planes of the unknown, a transformation taking shape through a swell of orchestral strings. This crest eventually melts into waves of mandolin plucks and cymbal rolls, unveiling a new state – “Now is all there is” – as whispers of violin are carried off into silence.
The introspective composition serves as a story from FOONYAP’s own personal journey. Following the unexpected success of first album Palimpsest, FOONYAP found herself thrust forward with undue haste. The strain from stress and overwork led to a serious back injury, leading to uncertainty regarding her financial stability and capacity to continue her career. Faced with severe physical limitations, FOONYAP had to look beyond the usual solution of hardening her sense of identity; recovery came slowly over many months, as she finally learned to let go of the past and prioritise the present moment.
“I was in a period of intense anxiety,” she says of this time. “One evening, I was determined to go inward and find myself so I could be calm again. At the edge of an overhang, I felt a presence behind me. But when I turned around, there was nothing. Just a void. For me, there is no stable self in which I can lay my head. ‘Now’ is really all there is, and with time, that epiphany has become sweet.”
Though still dealing with physical pain, FOONYAP’s inner freedom has flourished through allowing her identity to transform. Embracing curiosity and enjoyment over the frenetic pace of the music industry has freed her creativity, and given her the space to hone her talent through upcoming collaborations with classical ensemble Kensington Sinfonia and experimental choreographer Pam Tzeng, all while respecting her body’s cycle between rest and work.
FOONYAP’s ‘Free And Easy Wandering’ state of mind – one that responds to the environment with calmness and flexibility – seems especially valuable in the current pandemic. As society proceeds through a difficult period of transformation, FOONYAP is grateful to gather with other Asian-Canadians artists processing shock, discrimination and adjustment. They hope that in being part of this collective series on freedom, their stories can add to the inner strength of their community.
‘Free and Easy Wandering’ is out via Song, by Toad Records.