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Jake Shears is truly an icon, with a career spanning multi-million global album sales, Brits, Ivor Novellos and Grammy award nominations. Just last year, Scissor Sisters’ debut album was named the UK’s twelfth biggest-selling debut LP of all time, whilst Shears has been busy with an acclaimed memoir (‘Boys Keep Swinging’), performing on Broadway and recently opening a musical in London to rave reviews (‘Tammy Faye’, produced alongside Elton John and British playwright James Graham).

 

His latest endeavor is his upcoming album Last Man Dancing, full of joyous and high-energy dance music. The first single ‘Too Much Music’ is out now, with a rock overture, dramatic strings, and an irresistible Nile Rodgers groove. It’s about a man once broken, then corrected, by the raw power of song and dance: “Well we finally made it / To the Promised Land” – it’s a hymn to the idea that even in times of saturation “there just will never be too much music”.

 

Watch the music video for ‘Too Much Music’:

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Recorded between the US, Portugal and London (where he relocated from his New Orleans home during the pandemic), Last Man Dancing was brought to life by Jake and a close crew of fellow electronic trailblazers like Boys Noize (Kelis, Skrillex), Le Chev, Ryland Blackinton and Vaughn Oliver. There’s a reunion with Kylie Minogue, features from Jane Fonda, Amber Martin and a pre-Renaissance turn from the iconic Big Freedia, and even the sampled voice of Iggy Pop. Last Man Dancing is full of incandescent nods to dance music pioneers – a Sylvester falsetto here, a Patrick Cowley cowbell there, and a Berghain pulse – all modernised, personalised and right at home in 2023. Jake Shears has turned a lifelong love affair with club culture into his most ambitious pop music to date.

 

 

This road towards the album Jake Shears was in many ways born to make has long been dotted with points of defiance and tenacity. He appeared in a flash of lightning at the start of the millennium (“I was still really a child”) with Scissor Sisters. Their nu-disco cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’, recorded for one of the spurious compilations put together for the vogue-ish New York House imprint, A Touch Of Class, was an instant club smash. At the time, Shears was making rent by working part-time as a Go-Go dancer in Manhattan gay bars. “And in a way, that never stopped,” he smiles.

Last Man Dancing is “a journey through the ultimate house party"

In Jake’s own words, Last Man Dancing is “a journey through the ultimate house party. The first half gives you those singalong moments that get everyone into it at the top of night. As the hours turn, you can go a little deeper and darker, more where the second half of the record goes. It’s inspired by all the over-the-top house parties I’ve thrown throughout my life. I was born to host, I love to DJ and my favourite hours of a party are from 4-6am. There’s nothing more luxurious than being as loud as you want in the early hours. Not everyone might make it to the end, but the last ones dancing are possibly rewarded with the most magical moments of the evening.”

 

Scissors became a fertile flipside to the musical temperature of the early 00s, doused in the spirit of the gay countercultures they’d schooled themselves in. In the UK, they matched the sales of the drivetime hits by Dido and David Gray, while behaving and sounding like their exact antithesis. In America, that ‘Meet Me In The Bathroom’ Ramones revivalism mined a furrow of New York rock music, while Scissors sashayed directly from its dancefloors. They were meeting in the bathroom to check one another out and exchange flinty gossip about drag queens. Over four albums, Scissor Sisters carved a new pathway in a homophobic industry, still resistant to the tenets of diversity and inclusion that mark today’s corporate culture. They may still be the last organic pop group to slay Britain with supergay authenticity and integrity, and in Jake Shears, their front-man proves to be the Last Man Dancing.

 

Even in its high-octane energy, Jake Shears’ new album offers an opportunity to reflect on how he got to where he is today. “I had a really good time, a lot of fun,” he says. “I think the core thing it taught me is that your self-worth has nothing to do with your fame. When those two get mixed up, you’re in for a whirlpool.” Now he is an adult with grown-up concerns, a Go-Go boy no more. But his life’s work is still flecked with that gorgeous instinct learned across club music to dance through the pain, to smile at adversity, to look life in the eye and see the good stuff, the happiness.

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