Teddy Geiger was already planning on spending some time alone before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. She had booked a house in Big Sur for March, with the hopes of finishing her upcoming album there. Instead, she was stuck in New York for months.
“It was the same idea of what I’d planned in Big Sur, just different location,” she says. For the prolific writer who has worked with Shawn Mendes, Lizzo and Niall Horan, writing through the pandemic has been an exercise in appreciating how it has slowed down her workflow. She’s been choosing projects with more intention and selectivity while taking time to put a significant amount of focus on her solo music, which she releases under the name Teddy<3.
“It’s harder to fill up your schedule with random things,” she says. “It’s easier to be project-focused and work with some people you love and get in a rhythm with the same people.”
Geiger began work on her upcoming album last year when she moved to Madrid from August through early November, spending time on her own and taking breaks to see a cousin and their friends. “I hadn’t taken time to write by myself in a long time because there’s so many good opportunities, and if I’m just down the street it’s going to be hard to say no,” she admits, though she even needed a break from her solo writing retreat at one point. “In the middle, I worked with James Bay in London for a bit. I got bored at a certain point.”
Now nearly done with her follow-up to 2018’s Lillyanna, Geiger dropped the single “Sharkbait” earlier this week. The drums and two guitar tracks are a decade old, ripped from a demo she wrote when she was 21. Geiger transformed the old tune into something new while in writing sessions for the artist Arlie with friend Evan Voytas. When Arlie decided to not keep the song for himself, Geiger chose to release the fuzzy pop track — a sonic anomaly on her album — on her own.
“The album’s very ambient. It’s still kind of groovy, but it’s more space-y,” she says. “There’s one instrumental. I like to think of it as [an album] you can put on in the bath or on a drive, but you can still turn it up and kind of rock.”
For the video — her first since she announced her transition in 2018 — she teamed up with friend and director Miss World to make a beach-y, horror film-inspired visual. Seeing herself on-camera that way again proved to be a touch more harrowing than she was prepared for. “I went out and got a little bit of lip filler after we shot,” she says. “It brings up all the things, obviously. I feel fine about it now, though. With stuff like that, after it’s over, I kind of disconnect from it.”
She’s been back in Los Angeles for months now, with stops in Monterey and a future writing trip planned for Tahoe. Geiger has been thankful to re-enter in-person writing sessions, which have been able to exist with precautionary testing and self-isolation.
“I can’t do [Zoom sessions],” she says, having avoided them entirely when she was writing in New York. “I’d rather send stuff back and forth, which I’ve done a little bit of that.” Instead, she’s often had solo writers join in via Zoom while a bigger group is together in-person, something that has been new and convenient.
“Especially with helping with lyrics, if they can’t be in the room it’s still really nice. And if you have a good vibe in the room going, it’s just easier to add someone to that [virtually].”
Geiger hasn’t locked in a name for the album yet, but she’s leaning towards Teresa, a name she has used as her Instagram display for some time. It also represents a different mindset than when she had written Lillyanna, which was named for an online alter ego she had used before coming out as trans.
“I’ve been making it in the spirit of [Teresa],” she explains. “I feel myself settling into who I am and having a voice from that place that feels grounded and true and honest. I hope it’s calming in a way because it’s me soothing myself in a sense.”