Photo courtesy of Fletcher Shears // Where in the world do you find Fletcher Shears?
You could find him beating the shit out of his drum kit, on stage somewhere in Europe with his twin brother playing in their experimental punk band The Garden.
You could also find him quietly fiddling with a keyboard in his bedroom chock-full of trinkets, working on his side project Puzzle in Orange, California.
Lately it’s been the latter, crafting his newest EP Tighten The Reins which comes out online and on cassette August 1st to the masses.
Shears is someone whose sound, style and stage presence is ridiculously unique and I mean that in the absolute least cliché use of the word. His eclectic discography blends smooth rap beats with aggressive punk breaks and infectiously retro synth hooks.
Every collection of music he puts out sounds completely different yet completely cohesive. I personally believe he’s leading the charge in a new era of experimental music.
Photo by Yuki Kikuchi
Just like his music, Shears tends to stand out in a crowd. One day you could find him with long, bleach blonde locks and cherry red lips in a crop top and ripped high waisted skinnies.
The next you could catch him with a sharp buzz cut and cowboy hat wearing his favorite hockey jersey and a floor length duster. Androgyny is jealous of his androgyny.
He brings all of this to the stage with him and then some, balancing dainty wrist flicks and hip swings by punching the air, diving into the crowd and somersaulting back onto the stage.
Fletcher Shears doesn’t give a flying one. But not in any sort of apathetic way.
I had the privilege to chat with him about his head space for the new EP and that surprise shout out from Tyler, The Creator on his latest album Scum Fuck Flower Boy.
SP: So, why the name Puzzle?
FS: Sometimes names just feel right. I liked the way Puzzle felt.
SP: The first three singles you dropped from Tighten The Reins were pretty diverse. What were your biggest influences for this new EP, if any?
FS: There was a pretty large amount of heaviness on my head before writing this album and while I was in the process of writing it – more than usual due to a number of things that were pressing in my life. I’ve been trying my best to put a lot of that directly into the music. Tighten The Reins is kind of just me talking to myself over music.
SP: As much as you’re willing to share, I’d love to know more about your creative process. Are you really disciplined in your work or do you go by sporadic strokes of inspiration?
FS: I know what I want out of the music and I don’t settle for something I’m not in love with, I guess that makes me disciplined in some aspects. The things I create are almost always in the moment, it’s kind of an immediate response to what’s going on in my life. Everything is reflective on my true self and my life no matter how disguised the lyrics may be. I don’t think I’ve ever written a Puzzle song that was fiction.
SP: In the past, some of the Puzzle music videos have been interspersed with animation of varying kinds. Why add that element?
FS: Sometimes it fits in with the story, and other times it just looks nice.
SP: It’s pretty apparent you enjoy making interesting faces while performing live. Does this come from a place of involuntary nervousness or purposeful entertainment (or none of the above)?
FS: I think I just end up looking weird when I sing..
SP: Tyler, The Creator just shouted you out, literally, on his newest album. He quotes your song “All Smiles Over Here” saying, “All smiles over here/Shout out to The Garden.” He’s also been known to show up at your shows from time to time. Give me the scoop on how he became a fan.
FS: We met in Thailand actually, at an ice rink. Wyatt and I were playing hockey in Bangkok before our show in 2015 and he just walked in with his friends. Very out of the blue and unbelievable.
SP: I believe you’re not touring right now which you do constantly. What’s one of the first things you do when you get home?
FS: I like getting home and finding a chair to sit in for awhile. That chair is usually sitting in front of a keyboard, in which I will usually start writing music immediately.
SP: Unfair question(s) warning: Are you better at drums or keys? Which do you like better?
FS: Drums… I think they’re both important in different ways and they equally have their place in my life.
SP: Everyone knows your style is crazy good. Willing to share any of your beauty or fashion tips with me?
FS: I don’t think I have any tips. Just do whatever you want. People and their split second opinions matter less and less as you grow older, so you might as well start not paying attention to what they think about the way you look early on.
SP: Describe yourself in two words.
FS: Under Construction.
Photo via “Girl” music video
It was important to me to speak solely with Fletcher about Puzzle for this piece.
Often times he becomes the less talkative twin and I think his stand-alone voice deserves a platform. Along with his music and look of course, which at times seem to take unwarranted heat just because they’re different.
Shears is unapologetically himself and I think a lot of us could use that lesson as of late. That it’s okay to like whatever you like, wear what you wanna wear, make what you wanna make. Even if you’re doing it all alone.
Please support Puzzle by checking out the EP below/purchasing Tighten The Reins or by getting weird with me at the Garden show on September 19th in Chicago. Don’t let me be alone at the show! Tickets here.
There’s truly no way for me to pick a favorite Puzzle track since there’s one for every kind of weather so I’ll just link below to the one I haven’t been able to stop listening to the most lately haha. It’s between this and “Fish.”