Teddy Geiger, also known as teddy<3, is a seasoned figure in the music industry. She has collaborated with notable artists such as Niall Horan, Icona Pop, Caroline Polachek, and most notably, Shawn Mendes (earning a Grammy nomination in 2019 for “In My Blood”). Now, she’s back with her second album, five years after her debut LillyAnna in 2018. I had the privilege of chatting with her about the creative process behind Teresa, which dropped today, and the distinctions between this album and her first, and her approach to music.
LillyAnna had a grungier vibe and was composed before Teddy’s transition, during a period of personal repression. It’s fitting that the album was named after her online alter-ego. When asked about the album’s title, Teddy revealed, “Someone mistakenly thought my name was Teresa when I was on the street, so I was Teresa for that night. The name stuck with me, and the album ended up being about my journey as a trans woman, giving me the space to discover my true self. I was revisiting old movies, connecting with the female leads in ways I hadn’t before, and that enabled me to access emotions I couldn’t tap into with LillyAnna. LillyAnna was angrier, while this album is more somber, acknowledging and accepting where I am in life.”
The bulk of Teresa was crafted during a three-month sojourn in Madrid in 2019. Teddy reflected on the experience, saying, “It was really just being in a place where I could make friends with people and meet people and they didn’t have a concept of who I am. I knew a lot of people in LA and was very much in the ‘scene’ of writing and going to events and I was doing a lot of sessions. It was so nice to not have to process any of that and be myself with new people who I was meeting for the first time. Having that space to explore myself that didn’t have anything to do with business at the time, the first year of my transition I was working the whole time and didn’t really have a break to process it myself.”
The album was teased with the release of the single “Sharkbait” in 2021, with Teddy describing it as “perfect for a drive or a soothing bath.” Additional time was taken to refine the album, allowing her to incorporate an illustrative element that enhances the overall experience. The vinyl release includes a lyric book featuring drawings and images taken directly from Teddy’s personal writing notebook. Teddy explained, “I had a couple of cameras in Spain, and there were times I took pictures of the notebook where I wrote lyrics. I wanted it to feel like a decorated notebook, essentially.” Listening to the album while perusing the companion booklet feels like you’re reading a friend’s diary, a deeply personal and universally relatable experience.
The album effectively showcases Teddy’s skills as both a songwriter and producer. Songs like “Never Enough” and “Will I Ever Find You” pose simple yet profound questions. “True Love” and “In Spades” read like love letters. The album, as a whole, adopts a more electronic approach with moving percussion and lush orchestrations, thanks to the collaboration with talented instrumentalists Evan Voytas and Daniele Lupi. It’s a combination of yearning and introspection, as seen in lines like “I think I might have lost my mind looking back in time” from “More Than That” and “I wanna pull the curtain back so bad” from “Curtains.” The album’s deep lyrics and hidden meanings are a testament to Teddy’s prolific songwriting.
I asked about her creative process and the difference between collaboration and solo work. Teddy shared, “I enjoy the unstructured process of sitting in a room, doodling, and picking up the guitar. If I don’t have that limitless space, I’m more focused on serving someone else’s vision. I love working with artists who have a clear direction, but when I do that, it’s challenging to connect with my own creative space.” Teddy took a break from sessions while crafting Teresa, and it proved beneficial.
A recurring element of the album is the distorted vocals that seamlessly blend with the instrumentation, creating an ideal backdrop for introspective drives or baths, as Teddy intended. She said, “I’ve been playing with how I sing, and I also really do like that in my own process if I can keep it barely understood then there’s more room to interpret.”
What sets Teresa apart as an exceptional album is its ability to engage you in deep lyric analysis for hours, while also serving as a perfect mood-setting soundtrack. Teddy hopes people “put this album on in the background.” She added, “I love albums that can accompany you while you go about your day. I’d love for Teresa to be that kind of album for someone.”
As for what’s next, Teddy is constantly creating. She shared, “I have many demos and I’m always making new material; it’s like tending to a garden. At some point, it’s like ‘the tomatoes are ripe,’ and things are always bubbling creatively. I’m excited for this album to be fully released.”
“Teresa” is available on all streaming platforms now.