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What Singer Jake Shears Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: Photo: Ivan Bideac

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hair spray and electric toothbrush. We asked singer Jake Shears, formerly of the Scissor Sisters, about the thermos, recording equipment, and hair-loss treatment he can’t live without.

I think I’m on my 15th Kindle. I’ve broken many of them, and I’ve definitely given a couple to my mom over the years. This current model is one I’ve had for a while, and it’s honestly one of the things I really can’t live without. I like the new Oasis design because it’s so comfortable to read on. You can hold it by either hand. It’s better than reading on an iPad or something because the screen isn’t backlit. Now that we’re in lockdown, I use my Kindle mostly for the New York Times app in the morning. It’s a better way to read the news, rather than on the phone, because you’re not getting endless updates all day. And then I read The New Yorker, which comes out on Mondays. I feel like I’m really relying on it at the moment. The one thing Kindles are not very good at is photography or illustrations. So it’s mainly just for the articles. It’s keeping me informed but, like, with a finite amount of information.

First of all, they’re amazing for making giant cocktails. Like, if I’m working at night or something, or if I’m in the studio, they’re so great for just dumping a third of a bottle of vodka and a bunch of tonic water in. These are so insulating — they keep the ice super-cold so you don’t have to keep mixing drinks. If I’m drinking at home, they really come in handy. But I love them for just plain water, too, near my bedside. I love having something that’s ice-cold next to the bed. It saves me from getting up.

Photo: Retailer

People make fun of me for liking it, but I’d take Smirnoff over Grey Goose. I like the taste — I really don’t think it tastes that different from the pricier ones out there. Tito’s and Ketel are fine. But if I’m at a bar and I see they’ve got Smirnoff, I’m happy. I love to drink it around the house, too. A vodka tonic is my favorite drink, but I am trying to cut back — tonics are so sugary, so sometimes I water it down with soda water. I also love making a Negroski at home — that’s a Negroni with vodka instead of gin.

[Editor’s note: Because Drizly works with a network of retailers to sell and deliver booze, this product’s price and availability varies by location.]

I usually live in New Orleans, but I’m actually staying in Virginia, near my parents, who live on a horse farm. This interface connects with your monitors, a laptop, and a little mic. And there you go: You’re ready to make music. I’ve basically been a nomad for 15 years of my life, traveling here and there. But wherever I am, I can make music with this. I do sessions on Zoom with this producer I’ve been working with, Michael Cheever; he’s got a band called Crush Club, and I can see what he’s doing onscreen while we’re working. It actually makes for a pretty good workflow. I used to just twiddle a few keyboard dials and see what happens, but this lockdown is making me really focus on learning new stuff.

Onstage and in public, there’s the side of my personality that’s very dapper, very costumey, pretty sharp. And then, in real life, seriously, I dress like a total slob. But I do love cargo shorts. I love big pockets on my side because, that way, I can stick my Kindle in there, a pen, and paper. Most days, I’m in a pair of hideous cargo shorts like these and Birkenstocks. And that’s basically my uniform.

Café Du Monde is a famous café in Jackson Square in New Orleans. They make these French doughnuts called beignets. To me, this coffee just tastes like home right now. It’s got chicory in it, and it’s got a nice kick; it has this round, heavy taste to it. It’s strong stuff, and it comes in these old-fashioned cans that I love. Just looking at the can in my kitchen makes me think of New Orleans. I typically do a French press with it. I drink coffee every morning. Sometimes my boyfriend, Adam, and I will French press it at night and put it in the fridge so we can have iced coffee the next day.

I’m always reading a lot of books about writing fiction, and I’ve written fiction all my life. None of it has really gone anywhere, but it’s something I enjoy doing. I did a memoir that came out a couple years ago, and that gave me some more confidence, I think. The book features contributors like George R.R. Martin offering thoughts on story structure, and there are all these fascinating diagrams. I take it with me wherever I go; it’s just really inspiring to read. I’d been working on something around January or February, but it’s pretty stupid and a complete mess — everything keeps changing. I’m just trying to get a draft done, even if it’s a total garbage-gobbledygook-nonsense blob.

Photo: Retailer

So I’m now in my 40s. I already take finasteride for the top of my head. I’m not really balding, but I just don’t want to lose my hair. One day, about four or five months ago, I looked in the mirror and my eyebrows were just … gone. Half of my eyebrows fell out. I just had, like, two thumb-print-wide spots of hair above my eyes. I guess it was just age? I started researching every product — I’d heard about these lash products that a lot of women use to make their lashes really grow and pop, which can also be used for your eyebrows, but they’re expensive. And there’s usually less in the bottle because it’s made for just eyelashes. So after some research, I found out that you can totally use Rogaine on eyebrows. I started using it in January. I just dip a cotton bud in there and dab it on my brows. They’ve come back — and now just keep on growing. They’re still a bit light at the ends, but you can see the full brow.

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What Singer Jake Shears Can’t Live Without