Shawn Mendes is kicking off a new era with his latest album, Wonder, and he says it “feels like freedom.”
The 22-year-old Canadian crooner dropped his fourth studio album on Friday, which features 14 tracks of what Mendes says is “my favorite art that I’ve ever made in my life.”
“I know I really feel like I created an album that feels like freedom,” he told ET’s Katie Krause of creating Wonder. “I felt very free just making it. I felt like this is music that I love to listen to, this is music I want to hear, this is music I want to make and it’s gorgeous for that reason.”
While he’s happy with the final product, Mendes admits the album didn’t come easy — at least at the start. The singer has been candid in the past about his struggles with anxiety, and told ET he fell victim to his own fears once again when it came time to start creating the follow-up to his chart-topping self-titled 2018 album.
“The album is like a reflection of my life at the moment, or, rather, over the last six to seven months,” Mendes shared. “I had a big moment of anxiety and fear, and I felt like I wasn’t able to make music at the top of the year. And I think that was all coming from a place of fear, of people not liking the music I made, or fear of maybe not being able to make music better than I made in the past… and it was kind of choking me as a songwriter.”
“So I gave myself a month to kind of think about, figure out what was at the bottom of that,” he recalled. “And I just went in with the thing of like, hey, this is it. I showed up, I’m here to make music, I’m here to make art, and if it happens in the best way, it does, and if it doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t…. And ironically, when I freed myself from that expectation, I think I started making my favorite art that I’ve ever made in my life.”
Mendes wrote or co-wrote every track on Wonder, which has been led off by the eponymous single, as well as his duet with fellow Canadian pop prodigy Justin Bieber, “Monster.”
Of the latter track, Mendes says “Monster” — which both he and Bieber can relate to as an emotional look at the unexpected flip side of superstardom — is a song he actually wrote three years ago, “when I was actually feeling a lot of [pressure about] who I was in a relationship with and [people] wanting to push me into this box.”
“Three years later, I actually listen back to it and it makes me think of every single person who has Instagram or Twitter and every single person who is checking their Instagram every five minutes to see if people approve of the last thing they posted,” he explained. “It’s tough, because there is this [societal] pressure that everyone has and is putting on each other, and something that is so true and I don’t think is talked about enough is that the human condition is messy.”
“As babies, we fall and learn — that is how we don’t do something again and that is how we grow,” Mendes added, “and I think as adults — I don’t know who decided that we are not allowed to keep learning or to fall… We got to be OK with being messy and falling, and if somebody falls, don’t push them down, don’t put your foot on top of them, help them up and teach them. I think that’s the way that culture can really be there for each other and I think it is a beautiful thing for that reason.”
Wonder also comes on the heels of Mendes’ Netflix documentary,In Wonder, which took fans behind the scenes of his epic, worldwide tour in support of the Shawn Mendes album — and gave an inside look at his relationship with fellow pop star Camila Cabello.
Mendes sweetly shared in the doc that “every song I’ve ever wrote” has been about Cabello, so there are certainly all kinds of references to his ladylove on Wonder. But who’s the mushier of the two when it comes to writing songs about each other?
“I think we are both super sensitive, which creates a lot of sensitivity in our relationship,” he admitted to ET, “but we are songwriters, so we are constantly searching for the best topics in life. I don’t know, I am pretty mushy… I feel like she would probably say I am much more mushy.”
Wonder is available now. See more on In Wonder and Mendes’ latest music in the video below.
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