Shawn Mendes may be one of the biggest teen pop stars in the music space, but that doesn’t mean that he’s forgotten about the hurdles that came with being a young, aspiring artist. The “Treat You Better” singer wants to encourage his listeners to persevere, despite detractors.
“When I first started playing guitar, so many people told me I couldn’t do this, or couldn’t do that. But I kept at it and ignored that,” says the artist, who was signed to Island Records in 2013 after his six-second pop song covers scored millions of views on the Vine app.
“My advice to anyone with a dream is to never stop pursuing it,” he adds, “I think anyone can do anything they dream of if they put their mind to it, and put in the work.”
Mendes and fellow celebrity teens Yara Shahidi and Gaten Matarazzo will share this message during Camp Izze, an inspirational event that also promotes Mendes’s Illuminate World Tour, the launch of PepsiCo’s new soft drink Izze Fusions, and T.J. Martel’s annual New York Family Day. The free celebration takes place April 8 at New York’s Duggal Greenhouse, and will feature interactive playlabs, refreshments zones, and more.
One playlab, “Bubble Up the Good Stuff,” will be an art installation that gives teens a platform to share “positive-out-there messages to the world.” Another playlab, “Common Ground,” will center on helping young people see commonalities in each other.
There are many motivating elements behind Mendes’ success story. Among them is gaining the support of one of his influences, John Mayer — another male pop star who rose to fame as a guitar-playing teen solo artist. Mayer gave Mendes feedback on the Illuminate album, as well as some industry tips: “He was really just a great friend and mentor through the process, always giving honest opinions on the music, plus advice in general about how to navigate the stage I’m at in my career,” Mendes notes.
It’s clear Mendes appreciated Mayer’s input. Illuminate’s opening track, the bluesy, stripped-down “Ruin,” is quite reminiscent of Mayer’s work. “I think he’s a fan of ‘Ruin,’” Mendes says, adding with a laugh, “It definitely has some major John influence!”
Illuminate also captures a more mature romantic side of the Canadian singer who turned 18 last August, especially on the track, “Lights On.” Mendes says his fans can expect to see his evolution during his tour. “As I’m growing, so is my music,” he explains. “And even in my live performances, I’ve grown and learned so much as a performer, and guitarist, that I really can’t wait for everyone to see that new maturity. I have so many amazing surprises in store for the tour.”
As a result of Mendes’s partnership with Izze Fusions, the company will give away tickets, coordinate meet-and-greets, and auction off “amazing experiences” with the singer. All of the efforts will benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation that supports cutting-edge research for leukemia, cancer, and AIDS.
The Illuminated World Tour began March 18 in the Philippines and comes to North America on July 6.