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Wyatt Shears
Wyatt ShearsPhotography by Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent AW13

How Wyatt Shears is reshaping the sound of Californian punk

We spoke to the twin brother and Hedi Slimane crush about his solo project Enjoy and his enduring love of melody

It feels strange to see Wyatt Shears alone. Usually appearing as half of young punk twin duo The Garden, the 22-year-old is best known for being one of the carefree, crowd-surfing brothers who captured the attention of Saint Laurent’s creative director Hedi Slimane, becoming regular fixtures on the runway ever since.

However, Shears doesn’t always come in a pair, and we’ve swiftly become equally enraptured with his solo side venture Enjoy, a project which embodies all the high-energy, fuzz-packed punk of The Garden, but with an added dose of romance and melody, a sound that sees Shears embrace introspection and intimacy alongside the propulsive chaos that he’s made his name with. It’s a style not often heard in punk – a genre that can be as sneering as it is brash – but Shears’ music emanates all the sun-splashed optimism and charm of his native California, and the result is incredibly contagious. “Let me tell you how it feels to live California-style,” he sing-speaks over shimmering, pop-dunked melodies in “The Golden State”, a winking ode to his hometown.

Following the arrival of Shears’ debut album Another Word for Joy (below), which was released on Burger Records earlier this month, we caught up with the musician/model about working solo, being a twin brother, and his enduring passion for fashion.

How has 2016 been for you so far?

Wyatt Shears: 2016 has been a big question mark. I’ve been busy every day, but a distinct plan hasn’t developed, so this year and what it holds is pretty up in the air.

Tell me a bit about your solo project, Enjoy. How does it differ from the music you make as The Garden? And how would you describe your sound?

Wyatt Shears: Well, I started doing Enjoy in 2011, and the main purpose was to hear what my voice sounded like via recording, because the bands I had been in beforehand consisted of myself just playing bass and someone else singing. The other purpose of Enjoy was to do what the name implies – just enjoy myself. I usually set out to make ‘feel-good’ sounds with attractive melodies. I want to make songs that you can go on a date to. When listening to a song from Enjoy I’d hope that it could enhance your attraction to someone or something else, if that makes sense?

How does it feel working alone compared to working with your twin brother?

Wyatt Shears: When I am working alone, I have no one to show anything to, so I make the final decision on my own, and when I’m with my brother, we take the time to show each other what we’ve made or we add on to a song.

Did you have a creative upbringing?

Wyatt Shears: Personally, yes. I was always playing with action figures, drawing characters or listening to music. I know that’s what most kids do, but in saying that, I did those things a lot. I feel like I exercised my creative muscles a lot as a kid and I do the same today. Not just in music but many other things as well.

Your music can feel quite uplifting. Would you say you’re a positive person?

Wyatt Shears: Thank you. I am a bit overly positive at times. It can be one of my best characteristics and one of my shortfalls as well.

What did you grow up listening to and how does that feed into your music?

Wyatt Shears: I grew up listening to a wide variety of artists. I think that’s why I’ve never been the type of person to stick to one genre in anything. I look for certain melodies and hooks in songs, and if those songs don’t have it, then I’m usually not crazy about the song. The band Earth, Wind & Fire have many hooks that I enjoy. I like following what the bass does in conjunction with the rest of the song.

Tell me a bit about how you write songs. Do you usually draw from personal experience?

Wyatt Shears: The most important thing when writing for Enjoy is the melodies that I put into it. Lyrics usually come second for me. That’s why I often write jingles with no lyrics in them at all. Don’t get me wrong, lyrics are and can be incredible, but melody comes first for me. I usually draw from personal experience and I try to be as honest as possible so that nothing sounds contrived or corny. From time to time, I focus on fantasy as well, though.

You’ve walked for Hedi Slimane in the past. How important is fashion to you and who would you cite as a style inspiration?

Wyatt Shears: I don’t have any fashion inspirations right now. I usually just try to dress myself with versatility and some creativeness in mind.

What do you do when you’re not making music?

Wyatt Shears: I enjoy playing hockey, riding my moped, using Photoshop, skateboarding, and spending time with loved ones.

What is one book that has changed your life?

Wyatt Shears: Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.

What music are you listening to right now?

Wyatt Shears: I’m sort of on the hunt for any new artists that excite me right now. I’m not saying that there aren’t any out there – I just haven’t found them yet in 2016. As far as music that I enjoy, I like Herb Alpert And the Tijuana Brass, certain soundtracks and Wu-Wu.

What does the rest of 2016 look like to you?

Wyatt Shears: Well, I just released my new album Another Word For Joy on Burger Records, and my brother and I have been recording our new EP for The Garden. I’ll be playing many Enjoy shows during this month and the next, and we’ll be down at SXSW in Texas playing quite a bit as well.

Watch our documentary on The Garden here