Y Pants were an all-female No Wave band from New York City active from 1979 to 1982. The trio, made up of photographer/musician Barbara Ess, visual artist Virginia Piersol, and filmmaker Gail Vachon, developed a unique sound via their acoustic toy instrumentation of toy piano, ukulele and a paper-headed Mickey Mouse drum kit, augmented by electric bass guitar, Casio keyboards and various low-tech effects.
Y Pants' feminist poetics and toy instrumentation made them a hit in Manhattans's art gallery scene, while their No Wave clout brought them to be regulars at punk rock venues like CBGB's. In 1980 Glenn Branca recorded their debut 4-song EP for the now legendary 99 Records, followed by a full-length LP two years later. Lyrically, most of the Y-Pants' material covered the off-kilter aspects of relationships, with explorations into the perils of laundry ("Favorite Sweater"), materialism ("We Have Everything"), patriarchy ("That's The Way Boys Are"), and a reworking of Bertolt Brecht's "Barbara's Song" from Threepenny Opera. Musically they've been compared to their British post-punk contemporaries The Raincoats for their overlapping vocal choruses and kitchen-sinkish approach to sound, rhythm and composition.
Novelist and critic Lynne Tillman wrote the lyrics for the band's song "Obvious."
Y-Pants disbanded shortly after the release of their album, reportedly reuniting each year on the various band members' birthdays. Barbara Ess remained musically active throughout the 1980s, frequently contributing tracks to Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine and collaborating with Peggy Ahwesh on 2001's Radio Guitar for the Ecstatic Peace! label.