Wyatt Shears Discusses Enjoy, Upcoming Projects, Hockey, and More from the Vadaverse
Wyatt Shears is known internationally as not only one half of the twin sibling duo The Garden, but also for his solo work under the Enjoy moniker. As if that weren't enough to keep anyone busy, Wyatt's formidable résumé also includes drumming and co-production with fellow Vadaverse artist Cowgirl Clue, video work, and even modeling for the likes of UGG and Saint Laurent. It was a rare pleasure to recently sit down with Wyatt and talk about upcoming albums and tours, inspiration, video work, the recording process, and a mysterious connection to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Bobby Weirdo: You’ve said in the past that the main reason you started Enjoy was to hear what your voice sounded like on recordings. What did the experience of hearing your voice mean to you?
Wyatt Shears: I remember thinking that there were endless possibilities once I’d heard my voice and didn’t need to record on a camcorder or whatever [I was recording with] at the time. I was super proud of what I’d made.
BW: Enjoy and the Garden are quite visually-oriented projects. Do you have a visual in mind as you’re writing and recording music, or do all the visuals come afterwards?
WS: It’s hard to say, because it changes all the time. But for a while now, it’s usually been music first, visuals second. Even with music videos, I’ll make the song, and then the video or cover comes after.
BW: Related to that idea, I’m curious about the “Real Life Like Cold Ice/Go Figure (I Just Figured It Out)” video. That’s a great idea, linking the one song directly to the other in one video.
BW: How did that come about?
WS: I wanted to do it with a little bit better quality with a nice camera. I had a vision for “Real Life Like Cold Ice” where the snowman is going through the day, and the sun is beating him down, and he ends up melting. But I kind of rushed it, and when we started filming, the camera died. Ashley [Calhoun] just used her iPhone to film me and we did it quickly. I’m going to straight up say it’s not the thing I’m most proud of, but I’m happy we did it.
BW: Are you still listening to The Tijuana Brass?
WS: Yeah – I always do if it’s the right time.
BW: What is it about Herb Alpert and Tijuana Brass that appeals to you?
WS: First off, the good melodies, just straight up. Second, it brings a cool vibe and atmosphere that takes me to a different place. And third, there’s a lot of nostalgia around it.
BW: You’ve also mentioned that you listen to certain soundtracks. Is there a particular favorite of yours?
WS: Number one lately has been Phantasy Star Online – especially all the remixes. Also Yu Yu Hakusho. I love hearing soundtracks and remixes.
BW: Going back a bit, you mentioned at one point that you were working on an entire LP that Ariel Pink and Justin Raisen were going to be producing as Raw Deal. Demos for “Crystal Clear” and “Slice Em” surfaced, but it ended up being Rob Schnapf producing the album.
WS: It’s a long story, so I’ll try to compress it. We agreed to a really bad idea, where we were going to release three different EPs on three different labels, no strings attached. One of them was a label from an electronic producer in the UK named Zomby. He supposedly had his own label called Cult Music. Then we were going to do one with a local Huntington Beach label called Vinyl Solution. And we were also going to do one with Big Love Records in Japan.
Vinyl Solution and Big Love Records pulled through, and we knew those people pretty well. Zomby completely flaked on us, and we weren’t monitoring the process that well at that time. We recorded with Ariel and Justin, and it went well. I liked working with Ariel; he was cool. It was super easy working with him, and he understood what we wanted to do.
We had the recordings and an agreement with Justin and Ariel that we were going to split the earnings, but [the recordings] made nothing. We still wanted to use the recordings, but they didn’t get used because the EPs weren’t put out properly. So the Raw Deal thing fizzled, and eventually we were ready to make haha. We really wanted to put those songs on that album, so we re-recorded them and they turned out pretty decently.
BW: You’ve said you went through a phase where you wanted to see what some of the most accomplished musicians could do, and you referenced Victor Wooten. Ultimately, though, you said that music wasn’t about that for you. What was it that you learned or realized by going down that road?
WS: As a kid – and even now – I admire the art of slap bass a lot. It’s really cool, and it’s definitely something I’ll keep practicing in the future. I always want to get better at my craft, of course. But I know deep down that I’m not a musician who says, “Hey everybody, gather ‘round and let me show you how crazy I can do this.” That’s just not me. My strong suit is the creative side: songwriting, adding an atmosphere around it, and building a story.
I can fake it sometimes, and especially lately I’ve been really watching slap bass players because it’s fun to watch, it sounds goofy, weird, poppy, and strange. I like it, and one day I might try to hone in on it a little bit more. But for now I’m focusing on writing interesting stuff.
BW: From the compositional point of view when you’re writing songs, do you play chords on the bass, or do you work at a keyboard, guitar, or computer?
WS: For years and years, I would start out with chords on the bass. Especially Enjoy style, I’d get that rhythm going, add some bass, then a lead, and that was my simple formula. Now, it’s different. I’ve always used keyboards in Enjoy but now they’re way more in the forefront. A lot of the time, it’s really easy to start out with just a keyboard riff, slap a bass on there, add a lead, and then take out that rhythm section because the rhythm section on the bass became the keyboard. So I’ll do different formulas and switch around those little pieces.
BW: You play electronic drums when you play with Cowgirl Clue. Have you noticed a change in your playing as you go back-and-forth between bass, singing, and drumming? Does playing one instrument affect the way you play another, and do you think you’re using different parts of your brain?
WS: It’s a little like roller-skating and ice-skating for me. When I play hockey on ice a lot and go back to roller, I just have to get used to it for like five minutes. It’s the same thing with bass and drums. When I play drums after playing bass, I just need to get used to it for five minutes. It’s like riding a bike and a skateboard, in a way.
For me, it’s a lot of fun playing drums because I don’t need to multitask or do much of anything except play the drums. When I’m in The Garden or Enjoy, although it’s a lot of fun and what I’ve been doing forever, I can’t really relax that much. They’re different and fun experiences, and I like them both.
BW: It’s a perfect segue that you mention hockey. I know that hockey is a big part of your life, and am curious if it’ s completely separate from your music life, or if it somehow is intertwined.
WS: It’s a totally different part of my life, and I don’t know why, but I always have an urge to make it a part of my music. Sports and music never coincide, so I always try to throw it in there when I can, whether it be a music video, a flyer, or a logo. I try to throw the hockey thing in there just because I love it.
BW: Was hockey a difficult thing to access growing up in Orange County, or was it somehow accessible for you?
WS: I think it was easy. We had a lot of minor league teams, and also the Ducks and the Kings. Here in San Diego, you have the Gulls, which is a minor league team. It was always around.
BW: You seem to have some kind of connection to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Are you a fan of them?
WS: Yeah. Let’s just say I’m keeping it a mystery for now, but this year I have a lot coming up with the Tampa Bay Lightning, as far being involved with them.
BW: You ‘ve done video work with Ashley of Cowgirl Clue as well, right?
WS: We work as a team. I film her music videos when she needs me to, and she films mine when I need her to. She made a lot of Enjoy covers for me before I knew how to use Photoshop well. I work with my brother as a team, Ashley and I work as a team, and it’s kind of like a Vada Vada collective. We all help each other out in different ways.
WS: Enjoy actually just did a full album. I just got done with it and got it mastered, so it’s ready. I’m probably going to release it through Burger Records because I’ve always liked those guys and they’ve always been cool with us. I haven’t announced it yet, but the release date we’ve come up with is probably June 29.
I’d like to release it earlier, but with all the stuff with The Garden going on, and a new album in March, I’m not going to have time to do anything else. I want to promote it really well, so I’ll have to focus on it. There are a lot of new releases coming out this year: Ashley, Puzzle, Enjoy, and the Garden. Everything’s coming out this year.