Man Up, Yancey Talks the Queer Indie Music Scene and "Opinion" Music Video Release

This Saturday, Man Up, Yancey will be releasing their first EP after three years of playing DIY shows, lineup changes, and countless song revisions.

“Opinion,” the first video from Blue Fuzz, is drenched in hyperpigmented blues and reds, flashing anxiously, bringing to mind the hues of Holly Golightly’s panicked breakdown in Breakfast at Tiffany’s:  “the blues are it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid, and you don't know what you're afraid of.” A juxtaposition of dissociative chaos via masks and facepaint (in various stages of its application), the video is a dysphoric dance of constant flux in identity and disposition, set to the emotive energy of Man Up’s music and a precursor to the mood of the release.

Filmed by Decatur native Cory Ferreira and assisted by Dorian McNall, the video features a crew of mostly gender-queer comrades, including artist Gently Yoused, who has a project, Pretty Boy, with Man Up’s frontperson Yancey Ballard. Associated with a loose, queer friendly scene that is currently cropping up in ATL (though the ATLien indie music scene has long had a small underground of queer-friendly bands throughout the decades), it has been interesting to see a slight communal shift forming from the previously sparse and more individual representation. For example, bands like North Carolina’s 90s “queer punk” Team Dresch were as efficient as fellow emo rock bands like Rainer Maria and Sunny Day Real Estate. However, the nature of a band with one or more queer members made for their quick categorization as somewhat “radical.” This tends to supersede the more specific genres or tones a band is skilled at, which can be limiting and can burden the band with the responsibility of “representation.”

“Is it too grumpy to say there's barely a queer indie music scene? Cis het boys like keeping indie music to themselves. We should be labeled indie but people label us punk because we're queer. People throw a fit when you are a minority and try to define yourself. I cannot just be a musician. Therefore a part of my identity is perceived as political and therefore punk does make sense even though at the beginning it was just heartbreak songs.”

Man Up, however, is one of the few bands that has queer (and specifically) transmasculine band members, already extremely underrepresented in media, and in the case of our big/small city, very underrepresented in Atlanta. While a queer narrative at times can create the separation that bands like Team Dresch experienced, queer bands become powerful and important to queer audiences and communities locally and (in some cases) historically. Man Up, Yancey encompasses emotional frequency, endearing indie garage mastery, and the queer narrative in one.

Notably, the EP release will take place during Flaky Niece Fest, also organized by Man Up’s Yancey Ballard and fellow musician and booking agent Kyle Swick. The clever name denotes not just an alternative to Shaky Knees festival, it also presents a more local underground focus spanning a variety of indie genres and styles. We here at WUSSY are particularly looking forward to hip-hop artist Yani Mo. Flaky Niece will be at the Drunken Unicorn Friday May 13 (Warehouse headlining) and Saturday May 14 (Man Up release and performance), just a hop and skip away from Shaky Knees, and doubles as a benefit for Matt Jones, one of the original Wussy team members and a loved friend of the community.

Sunni Johnson is an Atlanta musician and zinester.