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It’s been a tough couple of months for Shawn Mendes.
Having kicked off his Wonder: The World Tour in May 2022, the Gen Z megastar performed the first seven concerts, then postponed it for several weeks, citing mental health concerns, before canceling the remaining 80 dates in July. In an Instagram post to his 71 million followers, Mendes promised fans that he would take some time away from the limelight to “ground” himself and “come back stronger.”
Since then, Mendes has been doing the work. He’s been in therapy. He did an Instagram Live last month with self-help guru Jay Shetty. He’s even using terms like “modalities” and “compassionate inquiry.” Gwyneth Paltrow would be proud.
In addition to doing the work, Mendes has also steadily been stepping back into the spotlight. He, along with Scarlett Johansson, is the new brand ambassador of David Yurman’s Nature’s Artistry campaign. And to celebrate the release, we caught up with Mendes for one of his first interviews since the events of last summer. We spoke on the phone about the inner journey he’s been on over the last six months, his taste in jewelry and when we might be able to expect some new music.
How are you? Last year was the big tour cancellation news, which everyone was so sad about. What kind of energy are you bringing into 2023?
I’m bringing in some honest energy. Last year was a tough year for me, and I spent a lot of time doing a lot of really good things for myself: taking some time to rest and heal, doing some great therapy and just kind of grounding myself again. I’ve been feeling really inspired lately, feeling like I’m ready to start making some music. Sometimes we just need to know when it’s time to take a breath and hibernate for a minute so we can come out feeling stronger. I feel really grateful with how accepting and loving everybody has been. I really think it’s a testament to the way that culture is starting to interact with mental health.
It’s interesting to think how differently that announcement would have been received even just five or 10 years ago.
I think 10 years ago, artists wouldn’t do a thing like that because of the amount of pressure and fear they feel about how it would be received. Which is sad to think about but also amazing to see how far we’ve come. I feel very lucky.
You mentioned you’ve been focused on rest, on therapy and on taking care of yourself. Have you tried any out-there modalities?
You can answer the question however you want.
There are so many modalities of therapy, and I think the important thing for me has been [honoring] whatever my pace is and doing the things that feel natural and safe. It really depends, you know? Each person goes through something different. For me, it’s been a mixture of a few different things, but the best therapy I’ve done is called compassionate inquiry with an amazing therapist. It’s tough and not everybody can afford therapy, but there are great platforms that offer it at a discount. My dream would be for everyone to work with a great therapist once a week. That would be a dream. Do you go to therapy?
I don’t, but maybe I should. We’re all on our own path, right?
We’re all on our own path, exactly.
You are the new face of David Yurman. What does it mean to you to be a brand ambassador?
It really feels great, to be honest. They have such timeless pieces that have always spoken to me, and I’m so honored to be a part of what they’re doing. I love jewelry and have been a fan of the brand for a long time, so it felt natural to do this with them, to bring these collections to life.
I want to ask you about style and your relationship to jewelry. What is your earliest memory of jewelry?
My dad used to wear this big silver necklace with an oval that almost looked like it had a mirror on it. I remember as a kid thinking it looked so cool on him. He had this jewelry box in the bedroom, and I used to go in there and put all his jewelry on. It was a thing I did. I remember as a kid really loving that. My mom took me to get my ear pierced when I was in second grade, which at the time was very crazy but very cool. I also used to wear this fake diamond in school. I loved that. But it wasn’t until I was like 17 that I put a ring on, my grandfather’s ring. I still wear it. That was the real intro to jewelry for me. Little by little I’ve started adding pieces, and now it’s become a part of my identity.
Tell me about your grandfather’s ring.
I never got to meet my grandfather. He passed away a year before I was born. My grandmother gave me their 25th anniversary ring. It’s something I’ve treasured for a long time.
What does it look like?
Here’s the thing, I’m not telling the entire truth. I feel some shame because, when I was 19 or 20 in the middle of a tour, I lost [that ring]. Now I wear another one of his rings. But which one do you want to know about, the one I currently wear or the one I used to wear?
The one you lost.
The one I lost was a silver ring and it has three stars in the middle, in a row. There are photos of me when I was that age wearing it. It was my biggest loss of an object. I’ve never felt so heartbroken about losing a thing in my life. But it happens.
Maybe it will turn it up?
Maybe this interview will start a ruckus, and there will be a search party for it.
What is your approach to jewelry generally? How do you collect?
Less is more for me. I’m very, very loyal to jewelry. I’ll wear the same things for years. If I add a piece, I’ll really have to spend a few months with it before I put it into rotation. Talking David Yurman, I have this green emerald piece I’ve worn around my neck for two years now. Not a lot of jewelry speaks to me. It actually takes quite a lot.
David Yurman Evil Eye Amulet in 18K Gold with Emerald
Buy Now on David Yurman: $1,975
Are you into birthstones?
To be honest with you, if my birth stone was a little bit nicer of a color, I think I would be. Nothing against this stone, but it’s called peridot and it’s a yellowy-green. I don’t love the color. My birth stone doesn’t speak to me the way an emerald does. If my birthstone was sapphire or emerald, I would be like, yes, that’s all I wear.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
I go on YouTube binges most evenings. I’ve been into these camping videos, it’s like ASMR camping. I’ll watch those for like two hours.
Why are those interesting to you?
They’re very calming. I had it on in my house the other day and my parents came in and said, “What are you watching, what is this silent camping video?” And my sister said, “Our generation is very anxious, we need to watch things that calm us down.”
Where are you with making new music? Are you in the studio these days?
I’m slowly kind of easing into it. I have some apprehension because I’m nervous. I haven’t been in there for a while. I have a high standard and I just want to make sure I give myself some space. It takes a minute. You have to build up the confidence, you have to build up the inspiration and then you have to go in there every day. I’m at the point now where I’m about to start doing the things; all the building, all the foundation has been set, and now I’m almost ready to start going into the studio.
What would you tell your teenage self when you were just starting out?
Really great question. I would say something along the lines of, “It’s not easy to do and it doesn’t feel good at the moment, but setting boundaries doesn’t make you a mean person. It actually makes you a really kind person.”
Is boundary-setting something you’ve been practicing lately? How has that changed you?
No one likes to set boundaries. No one likes to make people feel like they’re crossing something. Ultimately, if there is a real relationship there and real care, even if it feels hard in the moment, I think boundaries are extremely important. I’m starting to learn how to do that. I’m starting to forgive myself. That has been really helpful for me, and helpful for the people in my life. I have more patience, love and more space for them because of that.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.