Start­ing off with a boom

Shawn Men­des, from Vine sen­sa­tion to pop star.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - Sto­ries by GLENN GAM­BOA

SHAWN Men­des has achieved a lot in the past two years since he made the leap fro m teenage Vine sen­sa­tion to pop star.

His de­but al­bum, Hand­writ­ten, hit No .1. He was the open­ing act for Tay­lor Swift’ s sta­dium tour last sum­mer and his cur­rent world to ur, which kicked o ff at Ra­dio City Mu­sic Hall on Mar 5, es­sen­tially sold out com­pletely within min­utes. But the strange st first of Men des’ young ca­reer may also be the mo st telling.

Re­cently, his sin­gle Stitches hit No .1 on Bill­board’ s adult pop charts. That’s right, Men­des has topped the adult pop charts even be­fore he grad­u­ates from high school, be­fore he be­comes a le­gal adult. And he knows that’s a big deal. “It’s phe­nom­e­nal for me ,” says Men­des, call­ing fro m his ho me in Pick­er­ing, On­tario . “I think the big­gest fear of a 17- year-old artist e–my voice doesn’ t ex­actly sound ma­ture yet–is not be­ing ac­cepted in the adult world.

“When Stitches started to re­act to mo re than kids and teenagers, that kind of says to you ,‘ Hey, man, you’ ve got a goods hot at a long ca­reer .’... It is weird, but it’s more in­cred­i­ble and sat­is­fy­ing be­cause that’s what yo u want. You want your songs to reach peo­ple from five years old to 60 years old and have peo­ple like it .”

Oddly enough, when peo­ple like Men des’ mu­sic, it’s over­whelm­ing ly be­cause they like Men­des, and vice versa. There are no dancers in the Men­des live show. No band, though he says that will change on this tour.

Men des was a sight to be­hold when he opened for Swift last sum­mer, stand­ing alone on the stage with his acous­tic gui­tar, ready to en­ter­tain 60,000 or so.

“It was very nerve- wrack­ing to me,” he says. “But as the to ur went on, it be­came my se­cret weapon. No one was ex­pect­ing that. It creates a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment that not a lotof peo­ple have ever felt or seen be­fore .... It was like, ‘ Hey, watch me. It’s dif­fer­ent.’”

Ido Zmish­lany, who co-wrote and pro­duced Men des’ de­but sin­gle, Life Of The Party, and sev­eral other tracks in­clud­ing the cur­rent sin­gle I Know What You Did Last Sum­mer, says Men­des is a rar­ity. “There’ s a num­ber of kids on Vine or You Tube that are mu­si­cal per­son­al­i­ties and all that ,” Zmish­lany says. “Shawn is able to tran­scend that. He ac­tu­ally has the goods. He can sing with the best of them. And he can write.”

Zmish­lany laughs about how quickly Men­des’ I Know What You

Did Last Sum­mer came to­gether, the sin­gle that was dreamed up by Men des and Fifth Har­mony’ s Camila Ca­bello back­stage at Tay­lor Swift’ s Met Life Sta­dium con­cert in New Jersey last year. “It was a mag­i­cal ses­sion ,” he says.

M end es­says the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence was un­planned .“Camila and I were friends from be­fore and she was thereto see Tay­lor ,” he re­calls .“We were just jam­ming on gui­tar and things started to click. The next day we were in the stu­dio for 11 hours. It was a great ebb and flo w.”

Of course, when two talked­about stars get to­gether for a buzzed-about du et, the rum our mill shifts into over­drive–some­thing Men des say she tries to ig­nore.

“You can’t just be do­ing a spec­tac­u­lar song ,” he says, adding that the pair are sim­ply good friends. “It ends up be­ing mo re.”

The rum ours are sim­ply part of the dif­fer­ent road teenage stars have to nav­i­gate that other stars don’ t.

Is­land Records pres­i­dent David Massey says that pri­or­i­ties for Men­des have to be dif­fer­ent fro m pri­or­i­ties for adult artist es.

“One thing that’s re­ally im­por­tant tome and ob­vi­ously to his par­ents is to make sure that he fin­ishes his education, so the next six months of Shawn’ s ca­reer would also en com­pass him hav­ing to grad­u­ate high school ,” Massey re­cently told Bill­board .“It’s not quite the same as deal­ing with a 25- year-old .”

How­ever, Men des’ goals are the same as any artiste. He is al­ready at work on his se­cond al­bum, which he ho p es will be re­leased by the end of the sum­mer, adding that fans may hear so me new songs on the cur­rent tour.

“I just want to get to­gether as many good songs as pos­si­ble ,” he says, adding that he is still pro­cess­ing ho w much his life has changed. “I’m learn­ing mo re ev­ery day. That’s also why I want to cre­ate as how that feels very dif­fer­ent.”

M end es­says he is ex­cited about this world tour be­cause it is big­ger than he could ever have imag­ined.

“You don’ t re­ally know about how many peo­ple like your mu­sic un­til you put tick­ets to your shows on sale ,” he says .“That we were able to sell out places, like two dates in Eng­land in a 4,000- seat venue? That’s the best feel­ing in the world .... That means a lotto me.”

And he plans on not dis­ap­point­ing any­one, start­ing with the Ra­dio City show.

“It’s been along time since we did as how in New York ,” Men des says, adding that he wanted to launch the to ur at Ra­dio City. “I wanted to make a state­ment about this to ur ... . We’re start­ing o ff with aboom .”

Men­des hopes to write songs that ev­ery­one can re­late to. ‘ you want your songs to reach peo­ple from five years old to 60 years old and have peo­ple like it,’ he says.

Photo: FAIhAn GhAnI/

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