Shawn Mendes is the latest subject in a documentary by YouTuber Casey Neistat. Featured in the new YouTube Music’s Artist Spotlight Story, Neistat followed Mendes and his band in the five days leading up to the release of Shawn’s highly anticipated self-titled third studio album, which debuted at No. 1 in 77 countries when it was released this past May.
Following Mendes through his rehearsals, radio interviews, and fan appearances in Europe, as well as his performance at the 2018 MTV VMA, Neistat captured moments of reflection from the 20-year-old singer. At one point in the short doc, a grateful Mendes got choked up talking about his fans. He cried, we cried, it was as cathartic as listening to a Shawn Mendes song.
Starting at the beginning, Neistat asks Mendes about when he knew he had an audience. The most memorable moment took place in Mendes’ hometown.
“I remember coming to Toronto to do this meet up. I put my guitar on, we took the train down there to this place called Dundas Square. I remember coming up from the subway station and somebody recognized me. Then another person recognized me, then three people recognized me. Before I knew it, there were 50 people running towards me. Then I ended up going outside and I got on this rock in front of 1,500 people.”
After playing six covers, Mendes went home and was asked by his father whether he wanted to pursue music as a career. The young teen was somewhat ambivalent, but the seed for stardom had been planted. “That night, I wrote my first song.”
Picking up the guitar when he was 14, Mendes talks about quitting music class after one lesson and learning how to play Ed Sheeran’s “A-Team” on YouTube. “Until I put that first video up on YouTube, I didn’t know I could do that. And until I wrote that first song, I didn’t know I could do that. I would have just said, I can’t do it.”
In a message that will resonate with many of Mendes’ young fans, the singer talks about the hard work that went into developing his ‘natural’ talent.
“A lot of people say you were born with that talent,” said Mendes. “I wasn’t born with it. I sang until I lost my voice. I played guitar until my fingers were bleeding. I would get to the point where I was crying that I couldn’t get a part right.”
With his lead single “In My Blood” from Shawn Mendes, the Canadian artist opened up for the first time in his music about anxiety, which he talks about in the new documentary.
“Anxiety for me is really just stemmed off from insecurity. I really, really care about what people think and I always have. I came to the realization that not every performance can be perfect. I think the reason people love it is because it’s me, not because I’m perfect. That really changed everything for me.”
During one of the documentary’s most moving moments, Mendes attempts to put into words what it means to him to have a career that has taken him from his childhood bedroom to the biggest venues in the world. Crediting his success to his fans and his manager Andrew Gertler, Mendes becomes emotional in the clip.
“I never really talk about everything with this much detail. Because when I wake up today, I struggle with the struggles of today and tomorrow and yesterday, but then I forget everything that we did and the fans did and Andrew did to get here. I’m getting emotional about it. It’s crazy when you think about it. I don’t know what to say about that.”
Electronic artist Zedd makes an appearance at the beginning of the documentary, with the two friends releasing a remix for “Lost In Japan” last week. The new single, which Mendes opened the 2018 iHeartRadio MMVAs with, was one that Shawn says he always wanted to remix.
“When we decided to make ‘Lost In Japan’ the next single, I wanted to do an exciting remix for the song, and with Zedd being a good friend and such an amazing artist, it felt natural to ask him to collaborate on it,” said Mendes. “What he did with it is so incredible and I’m so excited for the world to hear it”
As for Zedd, the EDM artist said that his goal with “Lost In Japan” was to create a remix that fans would be able to hear both artists in. “I was really excited when Shawn asked me to work on a new version of ‘Lost In Japan.’ I tried to fuse both of our worlds together and bring us both to a place we wouldn’t have gone to by ourselves,” shares Zedd, “It’s my favourite song from the album so it was super fun to put my own touch to it.”