• Pansy - Pansy Cassette
    Pansy - Pansy Cassette
    Pansy - Pansy Cassette

    Pansy - Pansy Cassette

    Regular price $19.99


The amorphous, stretching experience of change can be difficult to capture, to process, to understand. At times it may feel like a single moment, but change occurs in an endless string of experiences. Through Pansy, Vivian McCall shares nine impressions of a year marked by that transformation, tribulation, and ultimately empowerment. 

More than three years ago, McCall began transitioning, a process which inspired the songs that make up her self-titled debut album, Pansy. And while the moment at which she decided to embrace a future as a trans woman may seem central, she shows that every moment on the journey has its value and incredible depth. Along the way, McCall came to learn that she had gained the ability to truly feel and understand herself—and could convey that in her art. “Before I transitioned, I could intellectualize it, but I very rarely knew what I was feeling. A lot of people experience clarity for the first time when they start taking the right hormones and they know what it feels like to function,” she says. “It's as if you have just woken up for yourself. Being aware of my emotions now makes me a better person, a better partner, a better friend, and a better artist.” 

Prior to transitioning and launching Pansy, McCall established herself as a fixture in the Chicago indie scene—primarily as a former member of the rock collective Jungle Green. In addition to records as a band, the members of Jungle Green break off into a handful of other side projects and solo projects, with McCall frequently acting as a producer for home recordings. That familial energy and constant source of inspiration and collaboration gave McCall the space she needed to explore the depths of her own heart and mind. “The songs came easy because I was constantly processing. I never tried to sing any particular way to convince anybody of anything,” she says. “That was the emotion that was coming out naturally.”

McCall parses those emotions through an open-hearted mesh of classic AM pop songwriting, bleary college rock atmospherics, and lyrics that favor plainspoken honesty over complication. The album opens on the acoustic guitar and lo-fi hiss of “Who Will Love Me Enough”, a song that recalls Phil Elverum’s Mount Eerie. Lyrically, McCall offers a look at the fear and anxiety that comes alongside the joy and strength of transitioning—a part of the equation not always given the honest treatment she demands. “Who will hold me at night? Who will love me enough to call me their wife?” she sighs. But then the answer comes in clearly: “I will never know unless I show who I am.”

Elsewhere, “Anybody Help Me” parses the process of physical transformation through an absolutely giddy fuzz rock anthem. “I can’t find the woman in me,” the chorus bursts. The verses meanwhile swirl majestically in the excitement of hope and the pressure of change: “I take pills every day, save all my money so I can pay, new face, operate between my legs, make someone new, I can’t wait.”

Representing that duality is something not often seen in art, and something that McCall felt deeply both throughout her transitioning process and also in these songs. “I can’t say that everything is totally peachy and easy. It's hard to be trans sometimes and there’s always feedback from people around you, from society, even from yourself,” she says. “But it's difficult for anybody to inhabit a body. People in the trans community will hear themselves, but anybody who’s ever gone through radical change in their lives will recognize these feelings too.”

Pansy was recorded on the same lo-fi equipment as many Jungle Green recordings, as well as side projects like Gold Star Gold Star, and brims with homespun warmth and intimacy. The swirling “Turn Your Back” pairs simple drum machine patterns with a rubbery buried bass line and a constant wave of needling guitar akin to The Magnetic Fields. On “Woman of Ur Dreamz”, the guitars verge on surf-y while McCall’s voice swings from resonant classic crooner tones to a falsetto sway. Samples of retro inspirational cassette tapes get chopped and screwed through “Tomorrow, When I’m Even Better”, McCall pulling from classic tropes of self-help and decimating their simplicity while a White Album swirl of psychedelic panic builds to a fervor.

As the record comes to a close, McCall has started to grow into herself. “Staring at my chest, it has become a breast, nestled in the palm of my hand,” she sings on “Mommi Housi”. The expansive “Me in Mine” ends the album with a powerful statement. “I don’t wanna feel special in your eyes, I just wanna be me in mine,” she shouts, her voice crackling with a newfound clarity and strength. 

“I'm not doing anything other than functionally trying to exist in the world, but that is such a hated thing. People will, for the rest of my life, be opposed to the thing that I need to do to just be a functionally happy person,” she explains. “But anybody can understand that experience of coming to the realization that you actually matter because you say so, and not because other people say that you do.”


Also Cool Magazine - Interview

“Through Pansy, McCall shares how she reconnected with herself throughout her transition, and parses the highs and lows of embracing her vulnerability.”

Heart Eyes Magazine - “Woman of Ur Dreams” Review

“Listening to the album feels like being home for the fall holidays ––it’s jarring and eye-opening, but also comforting and familiar. It’s like walking on the cobblestone of your college campus and finally being happy with the life you have created for yourself.”

Secret Meeting - Album Review

“Pansy: an intimate and ultimately playful look at what it means to understand yourself, this lo-fi record reaches out for reason and finds its own hand.”

Basement Magazine - Artist Feature

“Influenced by the raw textures of lofi-punk, multi-instrumentalist and producer Pansy walks the line between profound honesty and simplistic spontaneity”

Riot Fest - “Trash” Premiere

“The hush description of discontent in McCall’s voice lends to its lo-fi bedroom lullaby sound; the drifting synthesizer melodies, mixed with varying track speeds off McCall’s Tascam 488 tape machine, emit the sensation of floating.”

Chicago Crowd Surfer - New Releases

“The long standing member of Jungle Green has taken off on her own to continue the genre exploration and invention as a bad ass solo musician”

Flood Magazine Premiers Pansy's debut single, "Woman of Ur Dreams "

“Hints—blending the apparent if not disparate influences of The Magnetic Fields and Sonny Smith filtered through the language of ’60s pop-rock—there’s an undeniable sense of comfort in these recordings”

In a world without Lou Reed: Pansy reviewed

“Production-wise the song is left out of time with no clear indicator as to what era it might belong to. Simple drumming and clear, folky guitar lines weave throughout the song. The Velvet Underground may not have sold many records, but they are continuing to inspire outstanding new artists.”

Austin Town Hall shares Pansy

“Just imagine a really young Elvis hanging out and recording in a bedroom on a 4 track, and well, that’s what you get here…”

JanglePopHub Recommends

“Vivian McCall, nibbles at Surf rock , grabs at post-punk and engulfs it all in spindly, anxious jangled riffs.”

Grotesqualizer’s Choice Capsule

“The track shines with enchanting and sincere melodies and a nostalgic pop hit vibe.”

American Pancake - Pansy and the pulsating vintage sock hop punk love of "Woman of Ur Dreams"

“Pansy’s new track “Woman of Ur Dreams” is wonderfully jangly and well structured to effervesce soulful and spellbinding sound. Recorded on vintage equipment to tape, the lo fi sound is solidified and visceral.”

The Ongoing History of Protest Music - February Playlist


  • WXNA - Nashville, TN
  • WIIT - Chicago, IL
  • KXRY - Portland, OR
  • KBUU - Malibu, CA
  • KFAI - Minneapolis, MN
  • KSYM - San Antonio, TX
  • WSKR - Jacksonville, FL
  • WSCA - Portsmouth, NH
  • WKNC - Raleigh, NC
  • KRUX - Las Cruces, NM

Tour Dates