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'LillyAnna' Gives Teddy Geiger Space To Express Herself

teddy<3's <em>LillyAnna</em> is out now via Whatever Records.
Chantal Anderson
Courtesy of the artist
teddy<3's LillyAnna is out now via Whatever Records.

Back in 2005, with soulful blue eyes and an acoustic guitar, Teddy Geiger was a teen heartthrob. The Rochester, N.Y.-hailing artist had a soft rock hit, "For You I Will (Confidence)."

But by her 20's, the artist decided to step out of the spotlight and start writing hits for other pop stars like One Direction and Shawn Mendes. Last year, she publicly came out as transgender, and now, the singer-songwriter has an album of songs penned under the moniker teddy<3.

LillyAnna,out now, is a collection of songs performed in teddy<3's own voice. These are personal songs about her own experience — things she would never ask other artists to sing.

"There was a lot of music sitting around and demos and songs that I'd loved that weren't necessarily going to be cut by anybody else just because they're very personal to me," teddy<3 says. "I wanted to get that out there."

teddy<3 wrote LillyAnna over the course of a couple years, mostly before her transition. The songs chronicle her journey of self-discovery. "They definitely are speaking more to my state of mind before coming out and really coming to terms with who I am. I don't think I could have finished it without having come out," teddy<3 says.

The album's title track gives listeners a particularly intimate glimpse into teddy<3's transition. "LillyAnna" surveys teddy<3's battle with gender dysphoria. The singer speaks to the feminine side of herself and the shame she felt surrounding her identity.

But not every song on LillyAnna references teddy<3's femininity. She decided to keep gendered lyrics, such as "I'll be a good boy" and "This dying boy would love to see," despite her transition. Instead of making a sharp break from the previous chapter of her life, teddy<3 has chosen to display the full scope of her identity.

"It's like those moments where you get that freedom and you get this whole other level of space that you can explore," teddy<3 says. "And that also obviously relates to what I've been going through now with the transition and having all this room for me to express all the things I've wanted to express."

teddy<3 spoke with NPR's Ari Shapiro about the journey of transitioning and making LillyAnna. Listen to the entire interview via the audio link and hear teddy<3 perform "LillyAnna" live in-studio.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Christina Cala is a producer for Code Switch. Before that, she was at the TED Radio Hour where she piloted two new episode formats — the curator chat and the long interview. She's also reported on a movement to preserve African American cultural sites in Birmingham and followed youth climate activists in New York City.