Addison Grace Reveals How Writing 'I Wanna Be a Boy' Was an Important Act of Self-Discovery
When Addison Grace first released an acoustic demo of his song "I Wanna Be a Boy" on YouTube in December of 2020, they weren't quite sure what reaction they were going to get.
The unique song is an exploration of gender and the process of figuring yourself out, and in the act of writing it, Addison discovered his own he/they pronouns and nonbinary identity. It turns out that the song deeply resonated with their audience, too. The original video now has more than 500k views on YouTube, and Addison now has more than 3.8 million fans on TikTok, showing that he truly isn't alone in these feelings.
And with the official version of the song dropping last week, we're excited for even more listeners to discover the song, and maybe learn a little more about themselves along the way. We got the chance to chat with Addison about the song and his own journey, and here's what he had to say:
SH: What was the initial songwriting process of "I Wanna Be a Boy"? Was it a challenge to open up on the track in that way?
Addison Grace: "I Wanna Be a Boy" started getting written because I was having a frustrating, confusing night and needed to get some feelings out. It all started as a jumble of words and feelings that made no sense, but the line I knew had to be in there was the title, "I Wanna Be a Boy." So that's what I wrote down as the first line. I guess in some ways it's jarring and intense to start a song with a line like that, but then again those feelings are jarring and intense. You can't really sugarcoat it and it would lose meaning if I did.
SH: The demo for the song was released over a year ago—how do you feel that both you and the song have grown over that time?
AG: I think when I first wrote the song, I was scared of what people would think. I was also scared that I was voicing myself wrong. I was scared it wouldn't make sense and I should just keep quiet about those feelings. I think I was much more timid and scared of what people thought of me back then. Then it honestly shocked me that so many people loved and adored a song that felt so angsty and near depressing to me. Through the year, I became more comfortable with myself and realized, from the reaction to that song, that my audience would still love and support me no matter "who" or "what" I was. Now, instead of it feeling like my angsty crying song, it feels happier and more longing and passionate. It feels like a song anyone can connect to, regardless of how they identify. I think we've all wanted to be someone we "aren't" at one point or another. I think both the song and I have a definitive character now.
SH: What does it mean to you to be able to share your story with your followers through this song and maybe help them along their own journeys of self-discovery?
AG: I've always said, "If no one else is going to talk about it and normalize it, who will?" I've always made it a sort of "point" to be completely open about who I am to my audience. If there's one thing I strive to be, it's genuine. I grew up watching online creators and musicians be honest with themselves and it's what made me realize who I am and find parts of me when I was younger. So when my audience tells me I made them recognize parts of themselves because I was so open online, and in song, it feels like I'm "giving back" what was given to me in a way. If even one person gets to know they aren't "weird" or "disgusting" for having the same emotions and feelings I do just because I was publicly open about myself, then it means I did something right.
SH: Do you have any advice for anyone still trying to discover and accept their authentic selves?
AG: I get asked this question a lot by my audience and I think my answer is always that you don't have to label yourself. Take time with yourself. Don't feel the need to jump to conclusions or explain yourself to others. What matters is that you are enjoying and finding acceptance for these feelings. I think it's also important to explore! Ask questions to people you think are similar to you. Join online forums and group chats. Meet new people and test the waters on who you think you are. Nothing bad can come from exploring. It's what we're meant to do in life. But never feel you have to explain yourself too quickly. It's always been just for you, and you only. Find some peace in that. And also know that at the end of the day, there's never been such a thing as "normal." "Normal" doesn't exist.
SH: How has it felt to discover that the song resonates with so many people of so many different identities and walks of life?
AG: It genuinely makes me so insanely happy to see how many different people resonate with it! I've always said that once I release music it's not my place to say "this song has to only mean this." I release music so that people can relate to it however they need to or want to. I may have written it with certain intentions or feelings, but those get to be personally interpreted however someone chooses once they listen to my music. "I Wanna Be a Boy" doesn't just need to be for people who "want to be a boy," but it can be for anyone who's ever felt they were somehow "made wrong" or has felt insecure about who they are. I love that my art is being used how art should be. I love that it makes people feel.
SH: What's your favorite lyric from the track? Why?
AG: My favorite line from the song will always be "I'll break and bend my spine if it'd make you say you're mine." I think everyone, at some point, has tried to change themselves to fit in or to fit someone's expectations. It's so painful to do and it destroys us entirely. I think it's the one lyric in the song that can be so universal in its meaning.
SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
AG: To add I just want to say thank you to anyone who's been listening to the song and supporting me! I couldn't have released this without every single person who has let me be me and given me the confidence to do so. Thank you!
Did you know Demi Lovato and Sam Smith are also nonbinary? Click HERE to find out what eight nonbinary stars had to say about what their identities mean to them.