July 06, 2017

i-D – Next month will be Canadian Vine star-turned-seriously massive pop heartthrob Shawn Mendes’ 19th birthday. The big day (make a note, 8 August) might be bang in the middle of his American tour, but he’s booked four days off work to move into the condo he just bought in Toronto. Hopefully his neighbours are braced for the inevitable double house-warming and birthday party situation that any right-minded 19-year-old would throw.

If you’re reading this, it’s pretty possible that you’re one of the 28 million people who have watched the video for his most recent single There’s Nothin’ Holding Me Back. Or maybe you’re one of his 23 million Instagram followers. Given all this, we thought we’d invite Shawn round for a chat, and he turned up with the biggest entourage we’ve had at i-D HQ since Japanese pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu popped by three years ago. Thankfully, he ditched them for some one-on-one with us — the label reps, security and management team loitering in reception whilst we sat with the (still fairly, all things considered) down to earth popstar. So let’s get stuck in.

Shawn, what do you do if you’re feeling a bit down, to help you get back to that place where there’s (sorry) nothin’ holding you back?
When I’m home sick or tired because I’ve been on the road for a long time — which is where I am now — I remember how much I believe that people were meant to do certain things. So sometimes, when I feel like I can’t do something, I end up having my best day and making my best work. I’m like, “Come on Shawn, this is what you are meant to do!” Other than that, perspective is the best thing in the world. I’ve just begun telling myself, live day-by-day, and when things get really hard, live hour-by-hour. It completely calms me down.

So mindful. When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an actor, like, so so bad. I took acting classes, I auditioned for Disney, and then I realised how nervous I got with remembering lines. Then music kind of fell upon me when I was around 13. I started watching YouTube videos and singing and it became something that I was obsessed with. Next thing I know, I was fully in it.

What would you most like to change about the world?
I think what I’d like to most change about the world is both a good and bad thing. I wish people would care less, but also care more. Do you know what I mean? People care too much about the wrong things. If people were a little more light-hearted and cared about the right things, then it would all be a bit nicer.

Righty-ho. And what would you change about yourself?
Same thing again. I think the thing I’d like to change the most about me is maybe the best thing about me. And that’s my ability to overthink everything and see everyone’s perspective. I can’t walk into the room and only be me, I have to think as though I’m everyone in the room.

Do you meditate?
I’ve tried a lot, but I’m very logical so I think that having someone break things down and talk me through steps, really lay things out on the table for me, that calms me down. But meditating and leaving it all behind is very hard for me.

That makes sense. What do you think you would look like if you were an alien?
I think I would be massively tall. Like, so tall. With really long arms and a long neck. Maybe I’d be one of the tallest aliens. Like a slithery alien.

What do you talk about when you get your hair cut?
The person that’s cutting my hair. I always ask questions about them and their family. I usually get it cut every three weeks, and this is the longest that it’s been in like years. I’m debating on whether I want to cut it or not.

It’s nice. You should grow it out.
I don’t know, I’m gonna get judged for that.

It’d look good! What do you think happens when you die?
I don’t know, nor do I care. I like that life is a lot more important than the afterlife… whatever happens, we’re gonna be fine.

What if you got reincarnated?
I would love to be reincarnated as a bird, so I could fly.

What kind of bird?
A real good bird, like a hawk or something. It would suck to come back as a seagull.

If you could do anything without repercussion, what would you do?
I would just swear all the time. I would swear on stage a lot, because sometimes I want to so badly, but I can’t.

Yeah that must be hard. Do you ever forget?
That I can’t? Not on stage, ’cause there’s lots of kids in the crowd. But sometimes you just have to use a swear word to describe how amazing something is, and you can’t get it across if you don’t.

What’s your go-to swear word?
Fuck.

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