Jake Shears on Debut LP: “One of the Best Records That Will Come Out This Year”

“It was theoretically time for another Scissor Sisters record.”

Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears still knows how to cut a rug.

2018 saw the charismatic frontman emerge from a low-key half-decade—the Sisters officially went on hiatus in 2012, after releasing Magic Hour—with a run in Broadway’s Kinky Boots, saucy memoir Boys Keep Swinging, and his crackling, self-titled debut solo album, and return to the concert stage.

Released this month on Shears’ own label, Freida Jean Records, the track “Big Bushy Mustache” is its second single and music video.
 

Having just wrapped a slate of U.K. shows at Manchester Gay Pride, the entertainer is now preparing for a stateside tour. NewNowNext gave the New Orleans resident a ring to discuss the album, groupies, and the dance diva collaboration that got away.

I love that this album sits right next to the best Scissor Sisters work, with its retro, glam influence and energy.

It was theoretically time for another Scissor Sisters record. Everyone was doing their own thing, so I decided to go in that direction. I talk a lot about Bryan Ferry, who came out of Roxy Music and had a solo career. I feel his solo stuff really took off or went forward where Roxy Music left off, and he was always a real inspiration to me because he can play his whole body of work and it all goes together. Even with my album cover, it goes with all the Sisters sleeves. I wanted it all to flow and be a continuation.
 

Lyrically, you touch a bit on your longtime relationship and break-up with director Chris Moukarbel.

It doesn’t feel like a break-up album to me. To me, making this was less about breaking up with my partner and more about reassessing who I am. There’s a point every five years, and we all go through these cycles, where you stop and reassess who you are because you’re not the same person. I had to rediscover who I was and definitely there’s a bit of heartbreak as impetus, but I feel it’s more about self-discovery.

Now that you’ve created your own record label, do you plan to release albums by other artists as well?

For now it’s just my stuff, but there’s more in store, absolutely. I paid for this whole record. I put this whole thing together. It’s been all my money. Which is a scary thing! I find it really interesting that no one wanted to sign this album, because I think this is absolutely one of the best records that will come out this year. And I say that with confidence because I put my money where my mouth is. Freida Jean Records was created and named after my mom because there was no home for this album. I had to make one. The plus side is all the people I assembled to work on this are all very passionate about it. It’s not like where people are assigned to your project.

You’ve written songs for and performed with the likes of Kylie Minogue and Elton John. Who is the most unexpected artist to ask you to write a song for them?

I had a meeting with Donna Summer. That’s one of those I really wish I would have followed up on. We met about making music once at the piano bar at The Ritz. It’s the one that got away. I really regret not going in the studio with her. I think I was probably just scared.

So as not to make that mistake again, who would you love to get a call from now?

I would love to work with Beck. It’s always been my dream collaboration. Do you have any ideas? Who would you like to hear me do something with?

The Pet Shop Boys. The Electronic songs they did with Bernard from New Order and Johnny Marr were amazing.

That would be sick. That would be amazing. Yeah. I loved the past couple of PSB records, and the last New Order album was amazing. I would love to sing with Olly Alexander from Years & Years. I would love to do a super romantic gay duet with somebody, that would be fun.

Have you met Troye Sivan, yet?

Not properly, no.

Speaking of romance, are you dating anyone now?

No, no I’m not. I really don’t know how I would be able to. I dated someone this last year I miss a lot, but I don’t know how I can date somebody and do this. I don’t know anyone who would put up with it.

Are you falling into the rock star trappings of groupies again?

Not at all. Those days are pretty much behind me.

What about groupies that just want to cuddle? Maybe with some Netflix.

No, no, no. None of that going on. It sounds way too complicated for me. I’ve been living pretty quiet.

What’s on your playlist lately? What are you listening to?

Loads of classic rock stuff. I just met with Mike Chapman this morning in London, a producer who did the first four Blondie records and co-wrote all the Sweet music. I’ve been listening to a lot of that. The new Ladytron song I’m loving. I’ve been back on ABBA in a serious way. A lot of Harry Nilsson. Soulwax just put out a record called Essential that I love and is a total fucking trip. Gorillaz is hit or miss for me sometimes but some of the new album I’m totally in love with, the song “Tranz” is fan-fucking-tastic. It’s sooo gooood!

If someone does a movie version of Boys Keep Swinging, who would you like to play you?

God, that’s a tough question. Can I just say Amanda Lepore? That would actually make me very happy. I would give anything to see her as the lead in a feature film, so I’m going with Amanda.

Lawrence is a New York-based travel and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Time Out New York and The New York Post.
@LawrenceFerber