MTV Meets: Shawn Mendes
The 16-year-old Vine sensation on empowerment, cereal and the inevitable Justin Bieber comparisons…
By Jennifer Lynn
With YouTube somewhat saturated with aspiring singer-songwriters, 16-year-old Shawn Mendes’ six-second Vine covers were enough to attract the attention of 10,000 users, in just 24 hours. Now signed to Island Records, the Toronto-based star has dropped his debut single Life Of The Party, and won the Teen Choice Award for Web Star: Music. Not a bad summer, huh?
MTV UK caught up with Shawn to discuss crazy fans, his tour slot with The Vamps and Austin Mahone, and those inevitable Justin Bieber comparisons.
MTV UK: Why did you decide to use Vine as your platform?
Shawn Mendes: When I put the first Vine up I wasn’t really expecting anything to happen, but I put it up there because no one else was doing it, obviously because it’s only six seconds. You can still entertain people in six seconds, so I just didn’t see the harm in putting it up there.
MTV UK: How would you choose which six seconds of a song to showcase?
Shawn: Usually I’d just pick my favourite six seconds or the part that really made me smile. I’d go through the song and then find the part I liked best.
MTV UK: When did you realise you were building such a huge following?
Shawn: The day after I put the Vine up. I woke up with almost 10,000 followers; it was kind of an explosion.
MTV UK: What’s the story behind your debut single Life Of The Party?
Shawn: The song is basically about loving who you are as an individual. Lots of teenagers and people have trouble figuring out who they want to be, and we go through this stage where you feel like you don’t really belong, like quite uncomfortable. Life Of The Party is just saying, ‘Don’t freak out if you feel like you’re different, love who you are’. It’s a pretty cool, empowering song.
MTV UK: Do you take most of your inspiration from personal experience of being a teenager?
Shawn: My inspiration literally comes from everything, however random or specific; there’s no one specific thing.
MTV UK: Which artists have influenced you most growing up?
Shawn: Ed Sheeran has been a big influence for me, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars. Justin is incredible.
MTV UK: What do you think about comparisons to the ‘other’ Justin, Biebs?
Shawn: I mean I don’t know the guy personally, but I guess our music could be similar in some ways, and very different in others. I used to listen to a lot of his stuff, not so much lately because I’ve been trying to do stuff of my own, and things just got crazy.
MTV UK: Have you had any crazy fan moments yet?
Shawn: I was doing a performance in Toronto and this girl got up on stage and wrapped her arms around my neck. She was throwing me around, going crazy and security had to rip her off me. It got on the news in Toronto.
MTV UK: You’ve just been on tour with Austin Mahone and The Vamps. How has that been?
Shawn: We all have extremely busy promo schedules, but when we find the time we do hang out, so it’s cool. They’re all super big inspirations to me; it’s like being friends with the people you used to watch on TV and on YouTube. It’s been a very cool experience.
MTV UK: Have you found that there’s anything you can’t live without on tour?
Shawn: I need cereal. I can’t function without it. Oatmeal Crisp with vanilla almonds. You have to stay healthy on the road.
MTV UK: What can you tell us about your debut album?
Shawn: I’m just gonna keep it a surprise. We’re still working on it, so I don’t have a date in mind, but it’s definitely underway.
The Shawn Mendes EP is available to download from iTunes now