By the time he was 15, Shawn Mendes was already touring the world with his music. At 20, the Canadian singer-songwriter has racked up accolades that would make even the most hardcore music veteran do a doubletake. He’s sold over 16 million albums, and has amassed over 20 billion song streams and six billion YouTube views. His third album, “Shawn Mendes,” released in 2018, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts, making him the third-youngest solo artist in history to have three consecutive No. 1 albums.
Mendes is on the road these days, on his massive stadium tour, hot on the heels of his latest single, “If I Can’t Have You,” which debuted at the top spot on the iTunes chart (earning 30 million streams globally on its first day) following its May release. The road trek’s 100 dates across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia include two nights at the Allstate Arena, June 27-28, with Alessia Cara also on the bill.
Last Friday, Mendes released the official video for “Senorita,” his new joint duet with Camila Cabello. The song rocketed to the No. 1 slot on Spotify’s global chart as the biggest single-day debut of a male/female duet ever. The video garnered 50 million YouTube streams in the first 48 hours of release.
Mendes recently chatted with the Sun-Times about his music.
Q. Can you talk about the direction you’re going in when it comes to your new music?
A. There’s no direction I’m going in necessarily. There’s no new era, no new thing. It’s just this constant flow of inspiration and whatever is coming to me in the moment. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be able to make music during a time like this because we’ve never been more free and more allowed to create whatever our heart desires. That’s what I’m doing at the moment.
Q. Because you do have this freedom and you can be as creative as you want to be, what is the biggest take away people can get from your songs?
A. I hope they feel good. Especially with “If I Can’t Have You.” To be honest with you, there’s a type of music that is for a rainy day, there’s the type of music for a Sunday after a long night out, there’s a type of music for the night before. [With] “If I Cant’ Have You” and a lot of the songs I choose for my singles, I’m definitely just trying to make people feel good. I think about when I was 16 and the song that I would play when I got my Jeep, my first car, and I’m driving on the highway listening to stuff. I want to create music that’s that for [other] people.
Q. You’re only 20, but you writing is so beyond your years, so emotional, so heartfelt. It’s like you’ve lived a lifetime already.
A. Yeah, I feel like I have. I was 15 when I really left home and started touring the world and working with people who are 10, 20, 30 years older than me, every day. So I think I experienced a lot of life through the people I work with. On top of that I get to travel the world and meet people who are affected by the music and so even though I might not have touched all these feelings with my own hand, I’ve seen it and felt it through someone.
Q. What keeps you grounded?
A. My parents, my friends, my family, my team. I have an incredible team. Everyone is brutally honest to the point where at this time we’re more of a family than we are co-workers, and that’s the key to having a real rounded existence in this industry.
Q. How do you create your music? Lyrics first? Music first?
A. Usually for me it will be guitar part then it will be melody. And I also have a ton of lyrics I write on my phone. But there’s no real rule book or real style.