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Interview With Shawn Mendes: On Touring the World, Fan Letters and Biting Pens

Shawn Mendes In Concert In New York City - September 10, 2016
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Shawn Mendes is on top of the world — and now, he’s traveling all around it, too.

The 18-year-old singer-songwriter is leaping right from one leg out on the road to the other: from his massively successful ongoing Shawn Mendes World Tour to 2017’s Illuminate World Tour, during which he’ll visit territories all over the world starting in March, including Europe, Australia and Asia.

And the “Treat You Better” pop superstar isn’t just using his music to empower and illuminate the minds and hearts of his loyal fanbase: along with his tour, Shawn partnered with Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens for his “Spread Joy, Not Smears” campaign through December, in which fans share handwritten notes with each other to encourage positivity and boost self-esteem as part of his ongoing #NotesFromShawn campaign with DoSomething.org.

Shawn was kind enough to email our heart from the road about the campaign, his tour and his new record, Illuminate.

Your tour extends across the world. Where are you most excited to visit that you’ve never been before?

I’m really excited to go everywhere. Asia is exciting, and so many tour dates we haven’t announced yet that I can’t wait for fans to hear about because there are so many far away places I haven’t gone yet that I am finally going to get to.

You’ve hit the stage a ton of times at this point, and we know that shows don’t always go as planned. Any particularly memorably embarrassing and/or hilarious on-stage screw-ups that have stuck in your mind?

Oh definitely. I’ve had a few. One particularly was forgetting what city I was in, shouting out the wrong city. That is the WORST haha. And another was just going to say something, and the words coming out like jumbled nothingness. Sometimes your brain just goes on you on stage and it’s so embarrassing!

Do you miss home when you’re out on the road? If so, do you do anything to help with feeling homesick?

Yea at times for sure, you miss your family and friends. But its nice being able to FaceTime them, and also bring some friends out on the road here and there with me. And family coming out to visit.

Your lyrics are especially thoughtful. Do you always draw on real life experiences, or are there songs where you make up a narrative?

It’s somewhat a combination of both. So many of my songs are based on things that either happened to me or to someone I know, but there are also ones where I’ve written a made up story. All of them are about very real emotions and I just find different ways to express them.

Which artists influenced your new album, Illuminate?

One of the biggest was John Mayer. His album Continuum was on repeat during that time. And Ed Sheeran as well.

What current artist out there now, either on the radio or just starting out, do you think is really pushing the envelope?

Chance The Rapper is just unreal, he’s changing rap and really creating this whole amazing new style.

What was the moment when you first truly realized you made it big?

Haha I think there were a few moments like that but standing on stage at MSG was one of them. Just looking around like “woah this is real” and seeing so many people there for me. It was surreal.

Are there any artists that your fans would be surprised to hear you’re into?

Hmm. I think I share so much so openly I don’t think there’d be any people would be surprised with haha.

Who is your dream collaborator?

This is a tough one, Eminem though would be unreal.

What’s the first record you’ve ever bought?

I think it was Shania Twain.

You’re partnering with Paper Mate InkJoy on tour. What is the most memorable fan letter you’ve ever received?

It’s so hard to pinpoint one but just the ones that are the simplest positive notes, ones that are like “hey hope you’re having a great day” go such a long way.

And lastly, a very important question: Do you chew on the end of your pens?

Haha we’ll have to leave that a secret. I think I might. ☺

To catch Shawn Mendes out on the road, check out the tour dates on his official website.

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NEXT: SHAWN MENDES HITS TOP 40 WITH 'TREAT YOU BETTER'

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