Teenasai Balamu or generally known for her pop name Grape Guitar Box, is one of the Queer Independent musicians from Bengaluru.
Teenasai is 24 years old and she identifies herself as Trans non-binary. Teenasai pronouns are They/Them. Teenasai started playing the keyboard from the age of 10 as they was interested in music. Teenasai in a few years uploaded cover songs on her YouTube page that gave her a lot visibility. They slowly picked up a career in music in 2016. Teenasai was recognized nationwide in India at a very young age. Teenasai learnt the guitar at the age of 15 and started composing and writing songs.
In an interview with YourStory, they spoke about music and gender. Teenasai said that music is a way of self-expression and also the experience of life. Teenasai said that through music they created a safe space from label and judgements and discrimination. Teenasai released her first official single ‘Run’ that is about the emotions of being in a toxic relationship.
Teenasai stated that all her songs were from her experience and about things that happen around her. They said that her sings are all about experiencing life as a queer person regardless of the fact if one is straight or queer. They said that, as a queer artist Teenasai needed a lot of visibility. “When I was young, I never saw any queer artist. It was a different time and even media was not welcoming as it is now to the queer community.” Teenasai said that as a queer artist they want to fulfil a responsibility so that when someone in the future will say “Hey! It’s not bad to be queer.”
Through her journey as a musician Teenasai had the opportunity to collaborate with singers like Shruti Haasan, Bidisha Mohanta. Before becoming a full-time musician, Teenasai was a freelance writer.
Teenasai also shared her coming out story. “Living in the Indian society, Queer is not recognized as an option. When I turned 16, I told my friends first. Later I shared it with my brother and his wife. My parents took time to understand but no one questioned my identity and supported me.”
Teenasai said, “When we talk about gender, we have a habit of looking at just man and woman. We start associating certain behaviours and activities with a person’s gender and very often, don’t validate people who don’t fall in the binary.” Teenasai stated that people expected er to behave a certain way just because she has a female body.
Teenasai runs a series on her Instagram called ‘The Queer Qestion’. Participants and couples from the LGBTQ+ community answer the questions related to the Queer community and also shared their stories of being in ‘closets’.