Q&A: Shouldies frontman Yancey Ballard talks debut record and transphobia

With the release of its debut record, titled :), on March 22, synth-punk trio Shouldies made a strong statement of shiny pop and grungy goth glory. Despite its unusual darkwave sound and meaningful, political lyrics, the music lends itself surprisingly well to dancing.

After the album’s release, Yancey Ballard, the frontman of the band, answered a few questions from Indientry on the band, the record and life as a trans-masculine non-binary person in the American South.


Indientry: How are you all?

Yancey: Doing pretty “:)”.

How did you all meet? How did the band get started?

John and I met at a coffee shop in high school where he sported long hair and mutton chops and would play sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel any chance he got. We played post-punk music in a traditional style band (full kit, two guitars, bass guitar) for about 5 years and as that dissolved, we gained interest in the simplicities yet complicated ways of electronic music and brought Daniel in to join us.

Who are your primary musical influences? 

Suicide, Beat Happening, Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV/Chris and Cosey.

What artists and records are you listening to most right now?

lambda Celsius’s Ana Echo and the Beauty of Indifference, Julia Jacklin’s Crushing, Liz Phair’s Exit in Guyville, Futo’s In Heaven, All My Jokes Will Kill.

Can you tell me a bit about your album, :)? What was the inspiration?

The whole inspiration for this project was just to make genuine music with genuine feelings. No fillers or sparkle, just straight to the point. It was not necessarily made for an audience initially, just made to purge emotion.

How do you think it’s different from your previous work?

Speaking from John and I’s past work, this was different because like most young artists when we started out, we were so obsessed with proving ourselves. Once we started Shouldies and started working on this first album, it was more of doing whatever we wanted to do, not thinking about what was palatable or not.

Can you speak to existence as a trans person in the South, specifically in Atlanta?

It’s a very tight-knit family here, but you very much do not want to step out of the perimeter because it quickly becomes not safe. You learn quickly to always travel in groups and check up on your trans siblings often, especially your trans sisters of color, because we lose a great deal of our family every year and it’s just getting worse.

How does that impact your experience with music?

Most of my lyrics are about my trans experience. I write lyrics about my experience being a trans person for trans people. We, as a whole, make much for whoever likes it. I guess there’s a worry with being tokenized, but there is some power within tokenization. You can use your voice to elevate other voices as well.

What’s next for you all? Do you have any exciting shows coming?

We’re playing Adult Swim’s Bloodfeast live 3/28 and we’re doing some fun Slimey things 😉 and then playing in Atlanta at 529 for Michael Myerz release show on 3/30.

Is there anything else about your music that you think people should know?

It is what it is! Nothing deep or pretentious just some feelings over tasteful instrumentals

Check out “running”, a single from Shouldies’ latest record, :), below.

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