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What 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 stain-remover pen and the tongue cleaner. We asked Jake Shears, singer (and Masked Singer alumni) about the vodka, the home-studio equipment, and the eyebrow regrower he can’t live without.

I think I’m on my 15th Kindle. I’ve broken many of them, but I’ve definitely given a couple to my mum 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 because I travel so much. Back in the day, I used to have a whole suitcase just for books. Which is ridiculous. 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 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; there’s so much news breaking every minute, so I’m trying to cut it down on the news consumption while also keeping informed.

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 in, and a bunch of tonic water. These cups are so insulating they keep the ice super cold, and you just don’t have to keep mixing drinks. So if I’m drinking at home, they really come in handy. But I love them for just plain water, too, on my bedside. I’m a very strange sleeper. I have intense dream cycles and I’m up a few times a night. And I love having something next to the bed that’s ice-cold to drink from. It saves me from getting out of bed. Obviously you don’t wanna get your cups mixed up, nobody wants a swig of vodka in the middle of the night. 

Smirnoff vodka
£16
£16

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

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. This one is really easy to take with you, which is ideal. I’ve basically been a nomad for 15 years of my life, travelling here and there. So wherever I am, I can make music. I do sessions on Zoom with this producer I’ve been working with called 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 sort of, like, 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. If you see me walking down the street in New Orleans most days, I’m in a pair of hideous cargo shorts and Birkenstocks. And that’s basically my uniform. They’re usually out of style, but I don’t care; they’re really functional. There was a pair of J.Crew cargo pants that I had for a couple of years. They were amazing. I wore them so much, the whole ass fell out of them. I just wore them into the ground. And I’ve never been able to find another pair like that. They just stopped making them. So I pick up a pair from wherever.

Cafe Du Monde is a famous café in Jackson Square in New Orleans; it’s kind of the most famous café there. They make these French doughnuts called beignets. For 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 also like that it’s not too fancy, it’s just straight up good coffee.

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. Someday, I’ll have a draft of a mock of something.

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. I’m just going to try to do everything I can. 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 have, like, two thumb-print-wide spots of hair above my eyes. I guess it was just age. I started researching every product. And 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 it’s more expensive. And there’s usually less in the bottle because it’s really made for just eyelashes. So after some research I found out that you can totally use Regaine. I started using it in January, a bottle of it is like 35, 40 bucks. I just dip a cotton bud in there and dab it on my brows, and they’ve come back! Now, they 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 Jake Shears Can’t Live Without