Posted On 12 Jun 2015
Tag: Aftertaste, AG Artists, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Andrew Gertler, Artist Interview, As Long As You Love Me, Atlantic Records, Austin Mahone, Backstreet Boys, Best Buy Theater, Bruno Mars, David Letterman, Ed Sheeran, Ellen DeGeneres, Eminem, Handwritten, Hoodie, I Don't Even Know Your Name, Island Records, James Bay, Jingle Ball, John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, Life Of The Party, Madison Square Garden, Never Be Alone, Oh Cecilia, Rick Ross, Rockie Fresh, Shawn Mendes, Something Big, Stitches, Taylor Swift, The 1989 World Tour, The Vamps, US Billboard 200, Vine, Warner, YouTube
The pop singer-songwriter, Shawn Mendes recently released his debut full-length album, “Handwritten”. It debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 119,000 copies. “Life Of The Party”, and “Something Big” are the two lead singles from the album.
Shawn is the youngest artist to debut in the top 25 with a debut song on the Billboard Hot 100 at just 15 years old!
Learn even more about this singer in the following All Access interview with him:
Can you remember the moment that you wanted to be a musician?
I can’t remember the exact moment since it all happened so fast. But I just remember as a kid being obsessed with YouTube covers and cover artists. And I’d always try to sing along to songs and one day gave it a shot, posted a cover, and somewhat sucked at the time but kept posting and posting and getting better and better until eventually it all just took off.
Tell me about getting discovered on VINE?
I had been posting YouTube covers for a little while but they never took off, and then when Vine came out I decided to post a cover of Justin Bieber’s song, “As Long As You Love Me”… and all of a sudden I had 10,000 followers overnight, and kept posting, and more and more followers just kept coming. And my following spread across YouTube, Twitter, and eventually Andrew, my manager, found it and reached out and few me out to NY to meet with labels and the rest was history.
2014 was quite an amazing year for you. You signed with a deal with Island Records, hit No. 5 with his debut EP, performed for everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to David Letterman, you had your first ever headlining show to a sold-out crowd at the Best Buy Theater in New York City and you are going on tour with Taylor Swift! Whew! Have you really stopped to really comprehend that this is all happening to you?
I really can’t even comprehend it all. It’s all happened so fast that sometimes it’s hard to just stop and take it in. But whenever I do it’s so surreal. I still am just a normal kid, still live in my same house, and go home to hang with my same friends. It’s crazy.
From what I understand, you are very involved with the songwriting process. Can you describe that process? Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Yeah, I write my music with a few co-writers. Usually we start with a guitar riff or melody we think sounds great, and just build something from there. Sometimes the inspiration for the songs comes from traveling or sometimes just other people’s stories or friend’s experiences and things.
So are you still trying to finish up school now? 11th grade? I’ve read that you are excited to go to your prom!
Yea! I’m still in school and finishing up with courses that get emailed to me by my teachers. It’s definitely not easy but I’m still enrolled in my same high school which is really cool, they’ve been so supportive.
Since starting this crazy rollercoaster ride, do you get to go home to Canada and just be yourself? Do people recognize you like crazy over there?
I do get to go home and be myself with my friends and family and everyone there is really great about it. Definitely get recognized more in public though haha! It’s hard to go anywhere without being stopped.
Speaking of your fans, have you had any wild interactions with them yet?
There have been a few crazy moments. Fans jumping on stage, or like just in general crowds getting a bit out of hand, but I love them so much, its a good kind of crazy.
You stay very connected to your supporters on social media. Why do you think that is so important and where do you find the time for it?
I’ve really just grown up with it so its like second nature to me. Staying connected can be hard at times with how busy things get, but people ask how i do it and its really just what I’ve grown up with and what I do naturally.
Did you really write a song about pizza after hanging out with Ed Sheeran and Hoodie?
Haha not really a whole song but we were just joking around a bit.
What bands have consistently inspired you? Who are some of your all-time favorite musicians?
I’m a huge fan of Ed Sheeran of course, and Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake are both also huge inspirations and all time favorites. Eminem & John Mayer too.
What are some of your favorite songs to perform?
I love performing “I Don’t Even Know Your Name”, its my favorite song from the album and really lets me show my vocal range, and “Stitches” too is a fun one. There’s also this cool moment in “Aftertaste” where I leave the mic to sing to the crowd acapella and that’s always cool if they can be quiet enough.
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place with you (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
I’d say playing Madison Square Garden at Jingle Ball was one of the craziest things. It was just like “Wow.. I’m really here”
Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
I just hope they can enjoy it and connect to it!
All Access also caught up with Shawn’s manager, Andrew Gertler to chat about the business and what’s it’s like working with Shawn.
Did you always want to work with musicians?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to work in entertainment. At first, I wanted to be a screenwriter or film director, but in high school found myself putting together concerts and working at band’s merch tables. From there I started managing artists, and throughout college interned wherever I could in music to get the proper experience, at management companies, an independent radio promoter, Atlantic Records, and eventually ended up with a job at Warner for some years before leaving to run my company full time.
I’ve been managing Shawn since early 2014. I actually came across a video of his online one day browsing YouTube, and his talent immediately struck me. At the time I actually didn’t even know about his big Vine following, it was more so just his pure talent that struck me and caused me to reach out immediately. I then spent some time convincing him and his parents to come out to NY. Finally about 2-3 weeks later I was able to fly them out and took him into some meetings with labels, to record, and it all just spiraled from there.
Did you manage other artists before him?
Yes, after college I actually signed my first artist Rockie Fresh to Atlantic Records & Rick Ross. In addition to Shawn, I still manage Rockie.
You are the founder of AG Artists. Tell me about that company and why you created it?
I founded the company as somewhat a necessity when I started to manage artists. I’ve always had side projects and have always worked towards having my own operation, and as my artists grew I had to grow with them and build infrastructure around them. Especially with Shawn now, things are growing fast and with it I have to grow my operation as well.
Can you take us through your typical day being Shawn’s manager?
It’s hard to really break down a typical day as every day there is something new to tackle. I spend about 3 out of 4 weeks each month right now flying around or on the road with Shawn. And the other 1 week that I’m back home running around New York City taking meetings and going into the Island Offices more times than I can count. Its fun and fast paced for sure. I wake up early in the morning and go to sleep pretty late. It’s a pretty nonstop job. As a manager, your phone is always on and you’re always on call. I literally sleep with my cell phone next to my head. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
What is your favorite song by Shawn?
Right now, I would say it’s either “Never Be Alone” or “Stitches”… But there’s actually one unreleased song he just played me the other day that quickly might become my favorite. I’ll keep the name of that one a secret for now.
What do you think are the traits that a person must have in order to be an artist’s manager?
You have to be highly organized and detail oriented. And you also have to be able to adjust to new circumstances well, and willing to take every day as a new challenge, as there is really no routine. As the manager, a person’s livelihood and career are reliant on you being there for them. It’s a demanding job, but a really rewarding one when things go well.
What do you think are the key ingredients to really being a successful pop artist today?
I think it’s a really interesting time for pop music. There really is no cookie-cutter mold at this point, people more-and-more are able to break through to the mainstream just being themselves and I think Shawn is a great example of that. The pop audience right now are buying into great artists, who make great music, no gimmicks, so I’d say the one key ingredient is authenticity.
Who are some of your favorite bands?
I’d say my two favorites as of right now are James Bay & Ed Sheeran. But that seems to change by the month depending on what is new and what I’m in the mood to be listening to.