Interview: Shawn Mendes

“I really feel like live versions of my songs are that much better than the album”
Shawn Mendes
By Graham Turner |
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From Vine star to pop star and with two albums under his belt, teenage Canuck heart throb Shawn Mendes has accomplished much despite only just turning 19 in August. His latest album, Illuminate, has won plaudits for displaying the lad’s ever-advancing skills as a guitarist and relative songwriting nous.

If you’re planning to go hear Mendes on his Hong Kong debut on December 13 to admire his muscianship, you might be out of luck. Such is the ferocity with which he’s adored by his fans, you’ll be lucky if you can actually hear what’s going on above all the screaming adoration (the dogs of Lantau Island are gonna be in for a long night).

As well as being obviously talented, Mendes has nurtured his nice boy image with what seems like military precision. When we speak to him, though, the niceness comes across as genuine and heartfelt...

What are your thoughts on the pop landscape and where it’s at right now? Where do you think you fit in?
I think it’s amazing right now. Real musicians and songwriters seem to be really dominating, and I love seeing that and hope that I fit in in some way into that landscape simply by continuing to perfect my craft as an artist.

I think it’s fair to say many of your fans fall into the category of ‘die-hard’. That must be quite intense?
Definitely [laughs]! It can get pretty intense but I would say in a good way. They know all the words to every song and sing along with every lyric.

There’s been many cases of talented young artists like yourself who have burned themselves out due to the pressures and change of lifestyle fame brings. How do you keep yourself grounded and focused?
I just make sure that I always keep my family and friends close, and that I keep good people around me. It hasn’t been hard for me, it just has really been about making sure that no matter what, you are able to look at yourself in the mirror as things go on and make sure you stay the same person.

You started out spreading your music through social media platforms, how do you think things like Spotify, Vine, Twitter and Facebook have changed the game for artists?
I think it’s made it extremely easy now to access new music, and that much easier for anyone to get discovered.

Let’s talk about Illuminate. It’s been very well received from both critics and fans alike. Have you been happy with the reaction? And, how’s it been playing it live?Very much so, I put so much into the album and was so glad it was so well received. It’s even better live, which is what’s great, is that every song, I really feel like the live version is that much better than the album, and it gives fans something new to appreciate when they come to the shows.

What’s your plans after you wrap the tour?
Spending some time at home for the holidays, and then finishing the next album.

How do you feel about coming to Hong Kong?
I can’t wait! It’ll be my first time there! I just love meeting fans in new places which is why I can’t wait to come to Hong Kong.

Do you have a message for your legions of fans here? What can they expect from the show?
I guess my message is please tell me what to do in Hong Kong for the first time!

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