There were a few things that bonded Teddy Geiger and Greyson Chance when they met in the summer of 2019. One was their mutual love of the album as a format, and their desire to hear music within its complete context. Another was their past: Both saw their stars rise in the industry before the age of 18, and both completely changed their approach to music after learning from those experiences.
“I feel like I’ve learned so much from you about just how to navigate it all, and how to just realize that your career, no matter how good you are or how good things are going, like, it’s not always going to be great,” Chance tells Geiger over the phone in an interview with Billboard. Geiger responds in kind, saying, “We’re still here because we both, like, love making music too much to not do it. It’s not a choice; I just love it, and I want to be doing it all the time.”
That drive to make music is what ultimately cemented Geiger and Chance as collaborators. The first result of that partnership is Chance’s new song “Dancing Next to Me,” and the first off of his upcoming album. Produced by Geiger, as is the entirety of Chance’s next project, the tune offers a fresh dance-pop sound that fans have not heard from Chance before, full of heavy-hitting synths, blissful guitar riffs and the singer’s signature falsetto tones.
Ahead of the release of their new song, Chance and Geiger hopped on the phone with Billboard and interviewed one another about working on “Dancing Next to Me,” what it means to be two LGBTQ artists working together, and how they found longevity in the music business:
Greyson Chance: Teddy, I wanna start. First off, how are you today?
Teddy Geiger: I’m so good. How are you, Greyson?
GC: I’m wonderful. I’m in Stockholm right now. I’m taking a break out of the studio. OK, I have a question: As a producer of something, you’re not looking toward Friday and feeling any sort of nervous energy, are you?
TG: Oh, yes I am! I’m just ignoring it. [laughs] No, I’m excited, I’m a little nervous … but you must be more nervous. How are you feeling?
GC: I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m scared, I’m … I’m all of the feelings. But I was on the phone with my mom a few days ago, and I was kind of … I wasn’t b—-ing to her, but I was definitely moaning and complaining, and I was like, “I hope it’s the right take, and I hope it’s gonna kick off the album in the right way.” And she brought up a really good point, where she was like, “How many times have we been here? Every time you release a song, you are always freaking out about it. We’ve been doing this for so many years. The song is going to come out regardless of how nervous you are about it.” That was just a really good point. I think now at this point that it’s announced and I know it’s all in, I’m a little less stressed.
TG: Totally. I’m excited to hear the mix on the radio!
GC: Do you remember the day that we wrote it?
TG: Yeah! It was the first day at the camp that we had set up. So I was all nervous about running a camp and all of that stuff. But … I was definitely excited to work with you. [laughs]
GC: See, I remember — and I still have the voice memo — the day we wrote “Dancing Next to Me,” that was the first day that I was, like, allowed to work by my doctor and my vocal coach because I was coming off of that laryngitis stint. That was the first time I had talked or sang anything in about two and a half weeks.
TG: Oh my god, yes, I remember that!
GC: I remember waking up in the morning and feeling like … I don’t know if you feel this, but I have certain days where I feel like, before I go into the studio, I need to prep something. Like, it almost makes me feel like I’m doing my job where I can be like, “Oh, if it doesn’t go right, at least I have this idea.”
I remember sitting down and playing that and thinking, “Yo, this is really interesting.” And then the song happened super quick! We got it down in a few hours, and after that it was a puzzle, and we had to figure it out. But I just remember feeling such a good sense of relief, and such a good sense of, “OK, I’m back, after all of the laryngitis bulls–t.”
TG: It’s a testament to that thing when you haven’t written something in forever and then you do; it’s like eating something after you haven’t eaten for a few days, or having water when you’re parched. Like, it is truly the best feeling.
GC: And then that started our entire journey! I also think it’s hilarious that the first song we’re putting out from our album is the very first one that we did together.
TG: Totally. Actually, let’s talk about albums! Why, for you, is it so important to make albums and have a body of work that is an album? Like, what does that mean to you and … I don’t know, those sorts of ideas. [laughs] I’m bad at questions!
GC: C’mon, Barbara Walters, get it together! [laughs] See, what’s funny, too, is you and I talked about this, whether or not it was that first day, but definitely that first week. For me, I just love the album format because I feel like it’s such a great way for an artist to sort of capture a period of time in their life and say, “This is what I was feeling, this is what was going on, this is what was inspiring me.”
But I also think it’s, in the same way where you go out for a show and you’re expecting to see intention and you’re expecting to see such a purpose — albums give me a chance to really step into a performance space and become a character in a way. Our album, I feel like people are going to be seeing me more confident. Working with you and Uffie, like, that … I think you guys instilled such a confidence within me, where I was like, “OK, I do belong here, and I do deserve to be here.” But it had to be the same for you and Lillyanna, too, right?
TG: Well, I always think about it like … all of that extra time gives you time to create a world and tell story in the same way if you were to write a novel versus a short story. Like, you can write a great short story, and it’s great and people love reading it, but there’s something about when you have that whole novel, and you’re in that space for that time. Like, I love listening to the Sufjan Stevens record Carrie & Lowell all the way through. If I listen to it all the way through, I’ll cry, like, four or five times. And if I listen to a song here or there, it’s like, “Oh, I love that song.” When I listen to the whole buildup, it moves me in a totally different way than just listening to a smaller piece, you know?
GC: This could be the jaded side of me having been in the industry for a long time now, but I kind of get a little judgmental towards other artists who are like, “Oh, I don’t know, I’m just writing! If an album happens, we’ll put it together.” Honestly, I’m like, “You’re lazy.” I don’t know, it’s fine to just write, but at some point, you have to put together the story. Does that make me rude and jaded? [laughs] Should I be more understanding?
TG: No, I don’t think so! I’m that way at the beginning, where it’s like, “Yeah, I’m just writing.” But then as things start to appear, you have to be like, “Ooh, let’s make an album.” I see what you mean, the intention is important — the fact that you’re taking people on a journey, you want them to be able to listen to your whole album. You don’t want it to just be a bag full of songs that you just dumped out on the ground.
GC: Let me ask you this: Have you noticed a different vibe in the studio, having been working with somebody else in the [LGBTQ] community, somebody who’s one of the letters?
TG: The letters! [laughs] Um … I don’t know, to be honest.
GC: Do you wanna know my answer?
GC: OK, so here’s my thing: First off, I think it’s amazing that the two of us are going in, because I do think that a lot of people will read about this album and read that we’re collaborating, and I think it will be a positive source for a lot of people. So on that sole level, it’s one hundred thousand percent worth it, and that’s really amazing. But it’s interesting to me how that was just never really a thought when we were getting to know each other and how we’ve been working together. It’s never been a conscious thought as we’ve been writing the record, you know?
TG: Yes! Exactly. My bigger thought on that whole thing, is: Why are we grouping everybody together? I mean, I get it — there are the letters pulling everybody together. But also, it’s, like, LGBTQ; each one of those things has infinitely different issues, they’re all very different! And then at the same time, it’s like everybody is very individual, everybody is very different.
So all of these groups, everyone we’re trying to put together, it’s like … that’s hot. I get it, we are all different, but we’re all so different, and we’re all so unique, and I think that’s what’s special about us working together, too, is understanding that about each other and letting each other have the freedom to explore, creatively, all of the nooks and crannies. Or like … when I’m playing with the tuning —
GC: Oh, you mean when you’re pitch-shifting things and I feel like I’m literally on drugs and freaking out?
TG: [laughs] Yes, and you just look at me and say, “What the hell are you doing?” You let me do that! You let me explore that! But I think that’s the thing, is we’re all really individuals, and respecting that about each other, and being … yeah.
GC: It’s like, OK yeah, we have this shared connection being in the community, but I think the thing that brings us more together, and one of the reasons I felt so close to you when we first met, was our path in music. The longevity of both of our careers, and the s–t we’ve seen.
And also, not to get too sentimental: I feel like I’ve learned so much from you about just how to navigate it all, and how to just realize that your career, no matter how good you are or how good things are going, like, it’s not always going to be great. You’re going to have your days where you feel like a piece of s–t, you’re going to have your days where the record’s not going to do well, and you have to figure out what to do next.
And I feel like, when we first met and when we started talking about our shared experience, that’s what connected me more to you than anything else. Because I knew at the end of the day that you have gone through a lot of bulls–t, just like I have, in this industry. And we’re still here.
TG: And that we’re still here because we both, like, love making music too much to not do it. It’s not a choice. I just love it, and I want to be doing it all the time. Plus, you know, it’s been working out, so that’s good. [laughs] But yeah, we’ve both been through those five-year patches of, like, “Alright, I don’t know …”
GC: I told you, too, that I was talking to Cyndi Lauper at that Grammy party. She was looking at Rosalía being like, “I told Greyson this a few months ago and I’m gonna tell you now: You’re the hottest s–t right now. You’ve got your nails on; you just performed at the Grammys. Honey, sometimes things take a nasty turn.” I was like, “Wow, Cyndi Lauper is really telling Rosalía this!” But she’s right! [laughs] If you’re gonna do this for a long time, some things are gonna take a nasty turn!
TG: Things get weird! I love the word “nasty.”Things are gonna get nasty. [laughs]