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Jake Shears

A dynamic, multi-talented artist, Jake Shears excels at revitalizing classic sounds and bringing queer culture into the mainstream. As Scissor Sisters' charismatic, proudly gay frontman, he helped craft a winning combination of '70s-style glitter rock, house music, and electroclash on albums including their self-titled 2004 debut, which won a strong following with the LGBTQ community and in the U.K., where they topped the pop charts. On his own, Shears' theater work spanned his 2017 Broadway debut in Kinky Boots and co-writing the 2022 award-winning musical Tammy Faye. All these aspects were reflected in his solo music, which spanned the witty heartache and New Orleans homages of 2018's Jake Shears to the star-studded dancefloor excursions of 2023's Last Man Dancing. Born Jason Sellards in Mesa, Arizona in 1978, Shears grew up in the Phoenix suburbs, and also spent time living on San Juan Island, Washington, a community just north of Seattle. As a child, his mother took him to see the fantasy film Labyrinth, where he first became fascinated with David Bowie. He discovered Rocky Horror Picture Show, and by his teens was taking guitar lessons with longtime Seattle punk rocker Paul Solger, who introduced him to the Ramones and Iggy and the Stooges. He formed his first band, and at age 15 came out as gay to his parents. After high school, he moved to New York City, where he studied fiction writing at The New School's Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, worked as a go-go dancer at a gay bar, and worked as a music writer at Paper magazine. In 2001, inspired by the burgeoning electroclash scene, he adopted the stage name Jake Shears, and paired with longtime friend, keyboardist Scott Hoffman (aka Babydaddy) to form the arty pop outfit Scissor Sisters (a name inspired by a cheeky term for lesbian sex). Performing in wild costumes, they initially sang along to pre-recorded synth tracks but soon expanded to a full lineup featuring singer Ana Lynch (aka Ana Matronic), guitarist Derek Gruen (aka Del Marquis), and drummer Patrick Seacor (aka Paddy Boom). Scissor Sisters' self-titled 2004 debut album was a breakthrough, showcasing their combination of '70s-style glitter rock, house music, synthy electroclash sounds, and singer/songwriter pop. It was especially successful in the U.K., where it peaked at number one on the albums chart and became the year's best-selling album. Over the next eight years, Shears toured and recorded with Scissor Sisters, releasing a handful of well-received albums that culminated in 2012's Magic Hour. During that time, he also collaborated with dance and pop luminaries such as Erasure's Andy Bell, Tiga, Luomo, Kylie Minogue, and Calvin Harris. While Scissor Sisters was on hiatus following Magic Hour's release, Shears moved with his then-boyfriend, director Chris Moukarbel, to Los Angeles. For a few years, he concentrated on collaborations; along with appearing on Amadou & Mariam's Folila and Queens of the Stone Age's … Like Clockwork, he also duetted with Cher on the song "Take It Like a Man" from her 2013 album Closer to the Truth and joined Minogue and Nile Rogers on Nervo's "The Other Boys" from 2015's Collateral. When his relationship with Moukarbel ended in 2015, Shears struck out on his own, splitting his time between New Orleans and Los Angeles. He resumed the theater work he began in 2011 when he co-wrote the music for a stage adaptation of Armistead Maupin's book series Tales of the City, appeared in a staging of the Martin Sherman play Bent, and made his Broadway debut as the star of the musical Kinky Boots. In October 2017, Shears made his solo debut with the strutting glam-pop single "Creep City." In 2018, he authored his memoir, Boys Keep Swinging, and released his self-titled debut album that August. Recorded with collaborators that included the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Sturgill Simpson's horn section, and members of My Morning Jacket, Jake Shears reflected the creative renaissance Shears experienced during his time in New Orleans. The album reached number 20 on the U.K. Albums chart and number four on the U.K. Independent Albums chart. In 2019, Shears toured with Minogue and released the digital EP B-Sides. Early in 2020, he appeared on ITV's The Masked Singer as "the Unicorn" and subsequently released the single "Meltdown." During the COVID-19 global pandemic, he relocated to London and remained busy, issuing singles including the 2021 Annie collaboration "Neon Lights" and writing Tammy Faye, a biographical musical about evangelist Tammy Faye Messner, with Elton John and playwright James Graham. Premiering in October 2022, the production won 2023 Olivier Awards for Best Actress in a Musical and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. Shears' second album, Last Man Dancing, appeared in June 2023 on Mute. A celebration of dance music from disco to rave and beyond, it featured contributions from Minogue, Amber Martin, Big Freedia, Iggy Pop, and Jane Fonda.
© Heather Phares & Matt Collar /TiVo


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