St. Lawrence Central grad performing heavy metal, teaching yoga in Chicago
By ANDY GARDNER
Take heavy metal, progressive rock, post-apocalyptic literature and yoga, mix it all together and you get André Foisy.
A former Winthrop resident and 1997 St. Lawrence Central graduate, Foisy has crafted a unique vocation as a yoga instructor in Chicago and a founding member of the experimental ambient trio Locrian.Foisy has been playing music since he was 12 years old or younger, he said. He cut his teeth playing in the hardcore band Husk in the late 1990s. He credits his parents, Hector and Joanne Foisey of Brasher Falls, with supporting his desire to make music.
"I have a really great family that’s been really supportive of my musical interests. I think that my parents knew that I had a creative personality so they encouraged me to play guitar," Foisy said. "There were some great teachers in my school and in Potsdam who were really supportive too. They introduced me to new forms of music and were very supportive when I was in high school."
Locrian's latest release "Return To Annihilation" crosses between the poles of heavy metal, progressive rock and classical music. Foisy said it was inspired by the Genesis album "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway." He said his brother Joel Foisy, who is now the SUNY Potsdam Math Department chair, turned him on to the album.
Not fitting neatly into any musical box, "Return To Annihilation" stays true to the idea of death and renewal, which are central to the album.
Foisy also cites the Samuel R. Delany novel "Dhalgren" as a major inspiration for his latest album.
"In this novel the earth is in the midst of some cataclysm. It’s not clear if this is from environmental destruction, or nuclear war. There is this cast of characters who live their lives in uncertainty in the book," Foisy said. "So the theme of the book and of our album is about the earth changing so much that it’s inhospitable and that’s what’s happening in the world now.
"I don’t think that any of our stuff fits neatly into any boxes. Overall, it tends to be very bleak."
As with "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway," Foisy uses recurring musical themes to convey meaning. On "Return To Annihilation," he features violinist Gretchen Koehler, a Potsdam resident who is also his sister-in-law.
"[She] played the violin on a track on an earlier Locrian release and I used those same violin tracks on the last track of Return to Annihilation, but we mixed the violins much differently, so that the section of the song would sort of sound familiar to a person who was familiar with the earlier track, but not too familiar since the violins were mixed so differently than on the earlier release," Foisy said.
Locrian is set to return to the studio in July to record a new album for Relapse Records, which is a big label in the heavy metal community.
As a yoga instructor, Foisy said he uses "more ambient, abstract heavy metal tracks" as a backdrop for his students to learn about their bodies and how all the pieces fit.
"I typically play this music very loudly so that it’s not just something that people hear, but something that they feel. I intend for the music to contribute to the different sections of the yoga class and for it to help people to start feeling their body," Foisy said. "It’s not meant to be a distraction from the yoga practice. The music is really meant to help people meditate and to start noticing what their body feels like."
He says he conducts the sessions in a candlelit room. He says the dim lighting allows those with body issues or who are nervous about being at a yoga class to relax.
"Also, it’s just fun to practice yoga in a candlelit room listening to dark music," Foisy said.
He said he closes his class with what he calls "corpse pose," which allows participants a rest. Foisy said he even has had musicians play during the corpse pose.
"It’s really nice for people to experience music lying on their backs in the dark after they are physically exhausted from an intense class," according to Foisy. "It’s nice for musicians to be able to play to people who are totally sober as well."
Foisy and his wife have operated Turbodog Yoga in Chicago for a little over a year. He said they turned to teaching the art after taking it up together a few years back. Foisy says it helps him relieve wrist and back pain and aids his wife by alleviating effects of a shoulder injury and migraines.
"Today, it’s really rare that I have back pain or wrist pain. If I ever do get pains in those areas, I have a better understanding of my body so that I can get over those issues quickly," Foisy said.
He says his future ventures include working on yoga for musicians.
"With yoga, I’ll be doing more metal yoga events, probably monthly, in Chicago. I plan to do a yoga tour eventually though," Foisy said. "I’m also going to be developing a workshop to help musicians use yoga to help them feel and perform their best."
Go to http://www.andrefoisy.tumblr.com for more about Foisy and his yoga ventures.