Photo: Getty Images
Since capturing the attention of label heads with six-second Vine covers of other artists' pop hits in 2013, Shawn Mendes has gone on to release five platinum hits from his debut effort Handwritten, perform at stadiums as both a headliner and opening act for Taylor Swift, and is now on a media blitz to promote his newly-released sophomore album Illuminate.
For his latest set, Mendes, along with a few songwriters from Handwritten and Ed Sheeran's producer Jake Gosling, worked from an isolated studio in Upstate New York where he cited John Mayer's Continuum album to create music driven by authentic emotions.
"All I knew was, I wanted to create an album that I could feel," he told On Air with Ryan Seacrest in-studio Tuesday. "Beforehand, I was really into Continuum by John Mayer, and the reason that album was so good to me was because I wasn't just listening; I was actually feeling. If I could accomplish that with music, then I know I did a good job."
With disarmingly honest songs like "Mercy," "Three Empty Words," "Ruin," and "Bad Reputation," Mendes' album serves a soundtrack for the many stages of love, a motif that is still a taboo for many artists.
"As an 18-year-old guy, to go and write an entire album that's majority about love, people would be scared to do [it], but I think it's beautiful," he said of his emotional honesty, which was encouraged by his parents.
Mendes' career was also heavily influenced by Swift, who he opened for on select dates of her massive 1989 World Tour. During his trek with the global pop superstar, Mendes learned how to captivate an entire arena with just an acoustic guitar, and picked up the mindset to go full-throttle even when you're at the the pinnacle of your career.
"With Taylor, the biggest thing I learned, and I always say this and I love to say it, is that there's no amount of success that stops you from working hard," he revealed. "She, at the top of her game -- stadiums around the world, No. 1 artist in the world -- works harder than everyone and it's crazy."
Mendes will now embark on his own tour in support of Illuminate, which he said will be a departure from his previous shows. "I've never felt something change so rapidly in my life," he said. "From doing an entire acoustic set, to having a band all of sudden, to the production being involved."
He added, "The set has just transformed like crazy. Right now, I start off acoustic and it goes into this beautiful, beautiful band section. It's just true, real live music...I like to think of it as an experience and less of a show."
You can purchase Mendes' Illuminate album on iTunes now.