10 reasons why you need Pinkshift in your life

Ahead of the release of debut album Love Me Forever, Pinkshift look set to explode. Why do you need them in your life? Here’s punk’s most exciting new band tell you, in their own words…

10 reasons why you need Pinkshift in your life
Jake Richardson
Leigh Ann Rodgers

Pinkshift’s rise over the past year has been rapid.

Out of nowhere, the Baltimore trio – vocalist Ashrita Kumar, guitarist Paul Vallejo and drummer Myron Houngbedji – have emerged as one of rock’s most exciting new faces. With viral songs, vibrant performances (including a well-received live debut at Slam Dunk) and the announcement of debut album Love Me Forever due October 21 via Hopeless, they look set to ring in the final months of 2022 in style.

If you still need to catch up, here Ashrita, Paul and Myron run through 10 reasons why Pinkshift have to be on your radar. That means insights into the record, their hopes to foster a diverse and inclusive fanbase, and how they’re slowly overcoming the biggest challenge of all: winning over their parents…

1They’ve had a whirlwind year

A year ago Pinkshift were still working normal jobs, but thanks to the success of their sprightly punk anthems, the band have packed normality in for a shot at stardom…

Ashrita Kumar (vocals): “It’s weird to think that just a year ago I was still working in a research lab! Paul and Myron were still in their jobs too, but we had to quit because of all our touring commitments, which was pretty crazy. Twelve months ago, we were just doing this for fun, and now we have an album coming out. I’ve only really been able to process everything over the past couple of months since coming back from the UK – the past year has been so busy with touring and recording the album. It’s been weird coming home from tour and seeing everyone at home going about their normal lives – life feels a little bit like Hannah Montana right now!”

2They’ve already had a song go viral

2020 single i’m gonna tell my therapist on you kickstarted Pinkshift’s trajectory. Looking back, the band consider its timely release to have been the key to viral success…

Ashrita: “It was the right song at the right time – I honestly don’t know if it would’ve done as well as it did had the pandemic not been going on. We were at the stage where people were starting to protest against restrictions, and everyone felt so tired and hopeless, and there was no vaccine yet. A lot of music coming out at that time was sad and sleepy, and our song very much wasn’t – it had a nostalgic feel, and people online seemed to resonate with the friendship on display in the video. It created a community at a time where it felt hard to find that sort of thing.”

3They’re swaying their harshest critics

When Pinkshift spoke to Kerrang! earlier this year, they told us how they were struggling to convince their parents to support them pursuing the band full-time. Now they’ve got an album coming out, things are better in that regard. For some of the members, anyway…

Myron Houngbedji (drums): “My parents have always been supportive of the band, but it was really hard for them at first. They were torn on the idea of me pursuing this a year ago, but now they’re really proud of all the projects we’ve been involved in. I think some of the ticket sales and other things we’ve been doing for a band of our size has helped convince them.”

Paul Vallejo (guitar): “Mine are worse now! They’re like, ‘Oh no – this is an actual thing you’re trying to do?! It’s not little anymore.’ If anything, as things grow they get more stressed!”

Ashrita: “My mom and dad are always talking about how anxious they are about the band, but I know that, ultimately, they want the best for us.”

4They’re building up a strong connection with their fans

Their parents may still need some working on, but when it comes to Pinkshift’s fanbase, their followers need no convincing as to what makes them special…

Paul: “We work hard to engage with our fans. We do things like AMAs on our Instagram, and we’re always trying to reply to people, because this is one big family – the Pinkshift community is based on support and love. The connection with our fanbase is real and genuine, and it’s so rewarding seeing those people we connect with online coming down to the shows.”

Ashrita: “The biggest thing we want to do is foster a super-supportive and welcoming community of people like us. It’s really fun to talk to everybody who follows the band – those conversations are why we do this, and it’s really great for us all to come together and relate to each other in that way.”

5Their new album is angry in the best way

Pinkshift may be on the rise right now, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be pissed off…

Ashrita: “There’s a lot of anger and a lot of anguish on Love Me Forever. There’s a lot of mixed emotion going on, because it’s been really weird living through the past couple of years – I’m sure everyone can relate to that. It’s been a frustrating time, and living through these historical events has really diminished a lot of the possibilities we had to live up to other people’s expectations of what we’re doing with our lives. It’s been hard, and a lot of this record comes from that frustration and sadness, but also the triumph of making it through.”

6They put in the hours in the studio

Working with acclaimed producer Will Yip (Code Orange, The Menzingers), Pinkshift leaned on his experience in order to make their first time creating an album a memorable one…

Paul: “We’d never recorded an album before, so we were all really nervous heading into the studio. It felt like a true test of how good we really were as performers. Will was really encouraging and supportive, but he also challenged us as songwriters. We brought a lot of ideas into the studio that we were really stoked on, but he pushed us to make them even better. We’re all fucking stoked on what we came out with.”

Ashrita: “We’re not changing as a band on this record, but we are expanding what we do. With an album, we have more room to grow over the 12 songs. So there’s songs like [recent single] i’m not crying you’re crying, which is a fun one that sounds like our previous era, but we also wanted to push ourselves and really be creative.”

Paul: “The funny thing is, we dropped i’m telling my therapist on you, which is our biggest song, kind of out of nowhere. We did it all in one night and were like, ‘Well, that’s that done.’ Whereas on this record there are songs we’ve constantly revised and updated, and really gone in depth to make the parts the best they can be.”

7They’re also now writing ballads

Pinkshift have made their name on upbeat punk bangers, but for Love Me Forever, they decided to show their softer side, too. Enter ballad and album centrepiece, Breathe…

Ashrita: “I wrote that song in 2018, way before anything else that’s on this album. It had nothing to do with Pinkshift when it was written, but over the last four years it’s always stuck with me. I’ve always known it’s a good song that deserved to be released in some capacity, even if it was on my own SoundCloud rather than with Pinkshift, but the guys were really positive about it and it’s ended up fitting on the album perfectly. It’s very vulnerable and stripped down, and it really ties the album together. It’s got the angst our music has always had, but also real sadness, which we’ve not shown as much of so far. I’m nervous to release it. I hope people like Breathe – I’ve been crying to it for four years!”

8They’re going on a mammoth headline tour

A year ago, Pinkshift were playing people’s kitchens in the middle of nowhere. Now, to celebrate Love Me Forever’s release, they’re going on a full U.S. headline tour…

Myron: “We’re so excited! It’s going to be especially great to play the new songs live and see what we can do with them – we’ve been working on ways to really get the crowd involved with the new material. Hopefully, people like the new stuff!”

Ashrita: “I’m really looking forward to getting to curate a show that is ours. It’s going to be fun to work on something where the main focus is Pinkshift and it’s our show – we’re all really excited about that.”

9They’re proudly cultivating a diverse audience at their gigs

Each of Pinkshift’s members comes from an immigrant family, and they love nothing more than seeing an audience that represents where they came from…

Ashrita: “I get really excited whenever I see queer, brown and black kids at our shows. That’s always super fun and a real pleasure to witness, and I feel like they’re just as excited to see us as we are them. It’s a real mutual thing.”

Myron: “Seeing the children of immigrants at the shows is amazing. A lot of them can’t believe we’re even doing this – they think it’s insane!”

10They’ve got a simple but honest ambition for their album

World domination is the not-so-realistic goal many bands come out with whenever they drop new music, but for Ashrita, Paul and Myron, Pinkshift’s goals are far more sincere. As long as they make a connection with someone – anyone – then as far as they’re concerned, that’s job done…

Ashrita: “I think it would be really cool if this record became someone’s favourite album. For me, the main goal for Love Me Forever is just to have someone relate to it so much. That said, maybe I don’t want them to relate too hard, because some of it is pretty painful! But that connection is all we can really ask for. It’d be cool if the record charted or went triple platinum or something, but the main hope is that it resonates with people and they feel something through our music. I genuinely feel like Pinkshift doesn’t sound like anything else out there, so if someone could really relate to what we’re doing, that would be the coolest thing.”

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