Nothing Short of Self Expression: The Progression of Becoming an Upcoming Transgender Musician

By Charlotte Steiger

“Y’know, I’ve tried for a really long time to come up with a good way to describe this boy,” recalls boyfriend Lyric Aebi. “But I don’t really know how else except for a little ball of sunshine. Just this little radiant guy and he’s just like, hellooo!”

Andy Wray and I are sitting down face to face in the midst of Omicron. His bedroom according to him is a mess, but coincidentally everything appeared to be exactly where it was supposed to be. Multitudes of Billie Holiday and Beatles posters hung from the walls, in competition with the guitars for wall space.

Parked in the heart of Ventura, California, Wray knows how to get a crowd. His kind of charisma and charm make him undeniably impressionable to anyone he’s ever encountered. 

Born twenty-two years ago to a Montessori school mother and her husband, Wray was always the youngest out of three: A momma’s boy. 

The massage school dropout was always destined to be a musician. A once busy guitarist, his world paused once COVID-19 struck. 

“Before COVID, I went to open mics every week downtown,” Wray said. “Golden China was the first place I ever did an open mic.”

Los Angeles would eventually be familiar with him as the acoustic opener for local punk shows. A consistent performer, he’d walk on stage, bring out his acoustic guitar, and hope for the best. The punks in the crowd would clap for him as they’d wait for their own genre to appear post-intermission. “I did a lot of shows like that,” Wray laughed. “I’m not very punk.” 

Wray didn’t know what to do at first. Was music really going to become his future? While massage school sounded right, that career choice ended up lasting a grand total of two months. 

“I’ve always been around music. My whole family’s musical,” Wray recalled. “I just wanted to be a musician.”

So, that’s what happened. Dropped out, continued with songwriting, and ultimately ended up where he’s meant to be. 

Initially wanting to play the cello, that dream eventually faded as the guitar became a more reasonable goal.

“I started playing guitar because my brothers were,” he admitted. “I’m glad I did it.”

With the support of his siblings, Wray has been learning Taylor Swift chords ever since.

Ironically, Taylor Swift did not influence his sound much. The Beatles, as much as Nina Simone, did most of the work. Blues did the rest, with the inspiration stemming from his grandfather. A handed-down stack full of his favorite musicians did the trick, with him listening before he even started making music at all.

Eighteen years later from his first guitar lesson, the upcoming artist now has plans on releasing The Moon EP. It’s about, well, the moon. 

“Half of my songs are about the moon,” he described, after mentioning his potential debut album Road Runner with themed grief and the art of processing it behind the scenes. “There’s a lot of songs where I get kind of sad, and it’s depressing.” 

A Day with Wray: Smoking enough weed in Los Padres. Wray (left), me (middle), with friend Jocelyn Parkhouse (right).

Wray’s grief stemmed from the sudden death of his grandfather when he was 18 – less than a year after California’s drastic Thomas Fire. Staying in Seattle with his grandmother at the time contributed to his ongoing depression. They were bonded to the hip, and he needed the time to reconcile with himself. After four devastating months, Wray realized his love for nature and the reconnection it created towards his loved ones, even if they’ve passed away.

That’s when Emerald City became the introduction of his own closure with his grandfather. 

“I would go up this water tower that I loved, I would climb a tree, smoke weed, bring my guitar, and take night walks,” Wray said. “I’d watch the shadows.”

His world altered just as dramatically two years prior, the year he came out as transgender. 

He was scared, he was stoned. All a person wants is to be accepted by the ones they love. Long hair, in time, became shorter with each haircut. Pink hair faded back to brown, and sobriety became the preference. Confusion turned into acceptance. 

“Sunflower,” his latest single, reflected from that time in his life. It was one of the first songs he had ever written. 

“I remember looking at photos of myself when I was younger and I didn’t know who that person was,” he reminisced. “When I came out, I felt like I was connecting with that person again. So ‘Sunflower’ is just wanting, that desire, to be that little kid again. I used to follow trends and do what my friends liked, even if it wasn’t something I was actually passionate about or believed to be true.”

Fully transitioned, comfortable in his own skin, Wray learned what it took to be a good musician. It wasn’t about being able to play the guitar or the cello, but rather the willingness to be vulnerable. 

“I’m glad I’m not dependent on [drugs] anymore when it comes to writing music,” Wray said.

“But that’s how I started, so I’m grateful to not be like that anymore.”

Wray (right) with his current boyfriend, Aebi (left).

His favorite recorded song is one that hasn’t been released yet. Titled “Moon Around my Neck,”  the love song is about the time his current boyfriend, Lyric Aebi, left his crystal necklace behind like Cinderella’s left shoe. Wray put the labradorite on afterward and inevitably fell in love. 

Although live shows are at a pause, love is still in the air. Songs are still being written. Interviews are still being conducted, and weed is still being smoked. For twenty-two-year-old Andy Wray, the future has yet to come.

If you’re interested in listening to Andy Wray’s latest single “Sunflower”, check out his Instagram at @dandywray or AndyWrayMusic on Facebook for updates, music videos, and more.

Film photos shown taken by Charlotte Steiger, concert images taken from his Facebook linked above

One reply on “Nothing Short of Self Expression: The Progression of Becoming an Upcoming Transgender Musician”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s