The rising pop powerhouse, Canadian singer-songwriter Tyler Shaw is emerging as one of the most promising acts in the music sphere today. If you haven’t yet, you should consider including him in your musical repertoire as soon as possible. From the moment we pressed the play button, we were captivated by his voice. You can tell by our enthusiasm that he is our newest obsession!
Tyler Shaw has just released his self-titled third studio album via Sony Music Entertainment Canada, and it is, by all accounts, one of Shaw’s finest works to date. This album marks a new phase in his career, one in which the multi-platinum hitmaker has uncovered new sides and shared every part of himself with his audience. He has explored his horizons, exuding lyrical prowess and connecting with listeners on a personal sphere through heartfelt ballads, rebellious notes, and certified dance bops. Amidst the pandemic, Tyler poured his heart and soul into the most authentic project of his career and crafted it by collaborating virtually with people all over the world. And well, the result is an impressive 11-track melodious collection that has a distinct feel to it.
He kicked off the year by sharing his most romantic track to date ‘When You’re Home,’ and later turned up the heat with ‘Sex On The Beach,’ a summer anthem that’s sure to get you in the mood. Tyler’s sweet release ‘Be Like You’ is studded with the soaring vocals and pulsating beats that narrate the story of an ex-lover catching up with someone new, which can be very relatable. Tyler continues to ascent to the upper echelons of the pop world with this new record, having mastered the art of evoking intense emotions and capturing our hearts with his captivating, emotionally stirring songwriting that leaves a lasting impression.
His music captures universal emotions in a way that almost anyone can relate to, and the latest album is no exception. This album is a sonic gem combined with raspy vocals, soul-stirring layers of lyrics, and electrifying pop rhythms embodying the intensity of a range of emotions interwoven with glimmer, vulnerability, and tenderness. Though his music may seem melancholic on the surface, it brims with lots of elements that boost a sense of hope and empowerment, and that’s what we love the most about it.
In the wake of the pandemic, Tyler Shaw spearheaded ArtistsCAN alongside Fefe Dobson, a collective artist initiative that successfully raised funds for COVID-19 relief in Canada. It attracted stars such as Justin Bieber, Michael Buble, Avril Lavigne, and Sarah McLachlan. It became an instant hit earning international attention garnering over 11.5 million viewers and racking up over 10 million combined streams.
Recently, we had the privilege to interview Tyler Shaw, and we jumped at the opportunity. We were so excited to get a little low down on the new album, music journey, ArtistsCAN, cultural and musical influences, pandemic, and learn more about Tyler himself. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Let’s start simple! Despite your dream to become a professional soccer player, why did you abandon it for music? Do you remember what inspired your first song and when you wrote it?
I could never fully abandon soccer, but while I was in university on a scholarship for soccer, as a goaltender, I entered a national cover contest in Canada, and things moved quite quickly for me, making me a finalist and eventually a winner. I figured that these opportunities wouldn’t happen too often, so I chose to be fully committed to it. I have always tried to find a balance between my music and soccer. When I get writer’s block or get stressed in the studio, I step out and play soccer to center myself. Years ago, when I needed an escape from the demanding soccer schedule, I would turn to music to relax. I think the first song I wrote was when I was around 12 years old. I think it was about a girl I had a crush on (who shall remain nameless), and this is one of my earliest music memories.
Which musicians or bands did you listen to growing up that inspired you and contributed to your musical palette and sound today?
I have a pretty wide spectrum of influencers, but there are probably 3 main artists that have informed my sound from different phases of my life. I would say, John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, and Michael Buble really influenced how I approached and continue to approach music. I think John Mayer is an incredible musician, and I love how captivating he is with just his voice and a guitar. With Justin Timberlake, I found him such an inspiring performer, and he’s been an influence on how I perform without any instruments in hand. Not to say I break out into a fully choreographed dance routine, but just his level of comfort and energy he has on stage is what I draw inspiration from. My fellow Canadian, Michael Buble, is one of the biggest crooners of our time, and I love that quality about him. His charm and charisma are infectious, and that’s the type of star power I admire and aspire to eventually be.
‘Sex on the Beach’ really amps up the summer heat with its groovy and sultry tone. Was this song inspired by anything in particular? Did you have a hand in putting together such a star-studded cast with that retro 80s vibe for the visuals?
This is, in my mind, the perfect summer song. When my producer and I started working on this song, he already had a vibe or direction drafted that we started building on. We took all those summer anthems from years past and tried not to overthink anything. Lyrically we wanted something easy to sing along to on a road trip to the beach and play on the beach too. For the video, I actually co-directed it. We were on set shooting the album cover for my new project and playing the album. When ‘Sex on the Beach’ came on, everyone started dancing, and we happened to film it, then it ended up piquing my team’s interest, so we decided to call on some of my musical friends and familiar faces from TikTok and really just had fun with it. The colors, the props, the retro tv set, all of it felt like summer to me!
The previous song ‘When You’re Home’ is a stunning introduction to your next era and draws heavily on the sentiments of hope and positivity. Can you walk us through the making of this record? In light of this single, how have you maintained your faith during these challenging times that you would want to share with those still struggling?
My single ‘When You’re Home’ is one of my favorite songs I have ever written. I wrote this one in early 2020 on a writing trip to the UK. I was looping a little melody from a video game I was playing as inspiration for the music, and then the sentiment and lyric of the song came pretty quickly. The song really is about that feeling of being home with someone, not in the literal sense but more about the feeling of safety, security, and being at ease with someone regardless of time or space.
I will admit, the last few years have been challenging for everyone in various ways, but what has helped me in so many ways is a bit of an oxymoron; getting connected while disconnecting. I spent a lot of time calling and connecting with family and friends in a way that I hadn’t been able to when I was touring and working like crazy. I really had to disconnect and take a minute away from social media. We get too caught up in other people’s perceived lives that we stop living our own lives. Find time for yourself and what you love to do. Self-care is so important too. Find that person, place, or thing that helps you feel relaxed and at ease.
What can you tell us about your single, ‘I See You?’ Will it follow in the footsteps of your previous releases this year?
I think fans can expect a song for every type of mood on this new album, but the latest single ‘I See You’ is a mid-tempo pop song, almost balladry but not in a slow, menacing way. It’s almost jovial. It’s the type of song that picks you up. If I was to personify this song, it’s the person that reaches out their hand to lift you off the floor, the person who wipes away your tears and gives you a hug, or the person who makes direct eye contact with you in a crowded room. The song starts small with a guitar riff and a vocal and then gradually builds into something large and anthemic. I cannot wait to perform this one live and have the whole room screaming these lyrics along with me. I would consider this an anthem, akin to ‘Scars To Your Beautiful’ by Alessia Cara.
Your third self-titled studio album serves as the reintroduction of Tyler Shaw to the world. In what ways will your new album differ from your previous releases, and what can we expect? In crafting your upcoming album, what do you consider the most significant components of your musical landscape?
I’ve been in the industry for almost ten years and had great success in Canada but never attempted to take my music beyond the borders. On my first album, I was brand new to the industry. I relied a lot on others for direction and opinions as I tried to navigate my way through. I didn’t have a concrete understanding of who I was as an artist just yet. The sophomore album was a great period of growth. I became more in tune with who I was as a person and went through so many life changes, like getting married, and it really helped shape who I was becoming as an artist and what my message is.
With this new album, I’m way more comfortable in my skin and who I’ve evolved to as an artist. I co-wrote this entire album and also helped co-produce most of the album as well. I’m trusting my intuition and musical instincts and making my own decisions. I think it’s only right to call the album by my name. This album has a song for everyone and every mood. The last two years have been a rollercoaster of emotions, all of which has been poured into this project. I went for big, bold, and anthemic with this album and will hopefully be living on the road for the next two years to make up for the lost time. Different from previous albums, I think you’ll get to know me a bit better and the different sides of me. I don’t just write love songs and ballads, I also have a darker side, but at the end of the day, I write from a place of vulnerability and authenticity.
Let’s talk about ArtistsCAN’s success in raising over $100k for COVID-19 relief. How did you assemble such a stellar lineup of artists to cover the classic ‘Lean On Me,’ and what was your reaction to it becoming such a smashing hit?
It has definitely been an incredible journey, launching this project. I would consider it part of my legacy. I am so proud of how it was performed. The contribution it made was not just to music but the impact on the families. It has helped during this difficult period. It started with a small idea of just covering a Bill Withers hit following his sudden passing as a tribute to one of the greatest artists. Then, it began to snowball, as I asked some other artist friends to join and help fill it out.
Soon enough, I realized that the lyrics and message just really resonated with me, and I felt it was the type of message the world needed to hear during this phase of uncertainty and fear in the world. We enlisted the brilliant Jon Levine (Dua Lipa, Alessia Cara, Celine Dion) to help produce. I leaned on my good friend and fellow artist Fefe Dobson and our manager to help assemble all the talents. We were honored to have artists such as Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne, Michael Buble, Bryan Adams, among others who were involved. But we are also blessed to offer a platform for emerging artists like Command Sisters, Ryland James, and Olivia Lunny. We’re all collectively so grateful for their hard work on this, and it is such a rewarding feeling to see the fruits of our labor really make an impact on our country.
Besides music, your commitment to inclusivity and work ethic is admirable. You were a panelist on Telling our Stories hosted by GRAMMYs for AAPI Heritage month and performed at IDENTITY 2021. Please share your take on the massive under-representation of Asian talent and culture in the industry, and how will you continue to use your big platform to make a difference?
Thank you for that. I’m not a pioneer by any means, but I try my best to speak up and be the change I want to see instead of pointing out everything wrong. For many years I tried to hide or pivot from sharing that I am, in fact, half Chinese. I tried to assimilate instead of standing out. As I grew older and explored, began to understand, and appreciate my heritage during the writing process for my sophomore album, it dawned on me that this is who I am. Probably, I think a big part of me hiding that aspect of myself was because I never really saw any positive role models or representations of Asian culture. It was always the butt of a joke or the supporting character. I never saw the Asian action star, the lead, the breakout superstar.
Now that I’m a father and have a daughter who is a quarter Chinese, I want to be an example. I am making small changes along with my journey and hopefully inspire the next young singer, songwriter, or actor, who is multi-racial. The first step for me was sharing honestly who I was. If there is any silver lining to the pandemic, I would argue that when the world stopped, we were invited to take a pause, breath, and reflect. We noticed a lot more of what was happening around us, and it wasn’t pretty. Now that things are starting to get back into the swing, I am hoping collectively we can move onwards and upwards while being mindful of how important representation is.
The self-reflective nature of your music makes it feel very relatable and authentic. Is your songwriting process the same every time, or does it vary depending on the song? In what ways do you want to convey, through your music, a piece of yourself to your listeners?
There is no secret formula for my songwriting process. Every day is slightly different. I can wake up in the middle of the night and record a voice note or hear a noise on a walk, then sample/loop it to start an idea. Sometimes I write a song alone and then bring people together. Or sometimes, a song can start from a discussion with other writers. I try to let things come naturally instead of forcing them. Those make for the best songs, in my opinion. Some of my biggest hits were the stories that just poured out of me and were written in an hour or two. I typically aim to make the chorus and bridge of a song open enough that it helps connect me to my audience, and the verses are a bit more personal and my storytelling. I think the primary connectors in music are honesty, vulnerability, and matters of the heart; things we all feel in one way or another.
In what ways do you integrate your heritage, cultural influences, and artistic abilities into your music?
I’ve been asked this question before, and I wish I had a better answer, but the short answer is I don’t. When I initially shared that I was half Chinese on my last album, a lot of people thought and asked me if I was making a Chinese album (as if it were a genre). I am a pop artist who happens to be part Chinese, but I don’t necessarily include traditional Chinese instruments or sounds into my own music per se. I think you can experience a bit more of my heritage and Chinese influences through my artwork, live performance production, and wardrobe at times. In Chinese culture, storytelling throughout the generations is common, and I think my songwriting is my form of storytelling; hopefully, the type of story that will still be told years from now.
Lastly, you enjoy a very close relationship with your fan base and are very supportive of each other. Could you share with them and our readers a special message or a sweet secret that even your most devoted fans do not know?
A secret? (Laughs). First off, I would love to thank all of my fans for sticking by me. I cannot wait to get back on the road and perform this new music and some old favorites with my fans on tour. It’s been a tough stretch, but things are looking bright ahead, and we’re going to put on one hell of a show! Maybe this isn’t so much of a secret but more of a guilty pleasure, but I’m a big fan of the Backstreet Boys. As a kid, I got teased by my brother for listening to them in the car, but in my adult life, I still love them. That would be a great tour…. opening for BSB? Let’s set that up!
Yes Tyler, we promise that if this happens, we’ll be yelling our lungs out from the front row. Tyler has brilliantly embraced the musical and cultural influences that he grew up with, which define his identity and profoundly shaped his approach to music. His insatiable creative spirit and relentless pursuit of success have made him highly passionate about what he does. Having already established himself in Canada, Tyler Shaw now hopes to conquer the globe while exploring his artistic abilities.
Download/stream the newest album here!
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Featured Image Source: Tyler Shaw via Sony Music Entertainment Canada. Edited by Afnan Acharki – THP Graphics Team