Artist: Shawn Mendes

SHAWN MENDES

SUNDAY

They say the second album is the hardest. Usually, the story goes, you put your whole life into your first record, but then have to make the follow-up project under pressure, in a rush, on the move. But that’s not how it worked out for Shawn Mendes, whose 2015 debut Handwritten entered the Billboard charts at Number One and spun off four platinum singles. “It was actually kind of the opposite for me,” he says. “I’m really proud of Handwritten, but we had to get it done in five months—I couldn’t really pay attention to the production, we just had to get it out there. “This time, I knew I would be standing next to the producer the whole time and making sure it was exactly what I wanted, and we captured this new, inner voice that I had no idea I even had.” With Illuminate, Shawn Mendes proved that he’s making music for the long haul, that he’s looking beyond hits and toward a real career. And he’s rightly proud of the advances that this batch of songs represents. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but it was very easy to make this music,” he said. “The stars aligned and I found a whole new voice. I feel like I really know myself right now. I just hope the world views me as who I am, musically and otherwise. It’s hard for millions of people to really understand any one person without sitting and talking to them, but music is one of the fastest ways to learn about somebody. “I needed to get these songs out of me,” he continued, “but I’m ready to go write albums three, four, and five right now. I just have so many more songs to write.”