When a then-unknown Shawn Mendes was attending Pine Ridge Secondary School in Toronto, he had a morning ritual of watching the vlogs then-rising YouTuber Casey Neistat would upload to the platform. Mendes saw how an online personality could use the fledgling technology to their advantage, building a global fanbase with raw talent, a camera and an Internet connection. So it stands to reason that roughly five years later when the powers that be at YouTube came to Mendes about putting together the latest installment of their continuing series dubbed Artist Spotlight Stories, Mendes knew exactly who to call on to helm the project.
“The series serves as a portrait of a musician’s life,” Neistat explains of the series, which in the past has shined their spotlight on artists including Camila Cabello and J Balvin. “They are always really, really well done. What excited me most was telling a story how Shawn went from being this kid to an adult, and how that transition happened in the eyes of the public.” For Neistat, a powerful voice on YouTube who boasts over 10 million subscribers on the platform and a rabid online fanbase, the basic concept for what would become the Mendes mini documentary was built around the release of his recent self-titled album, which Neistat regards as a landmark in the singer’s career, boasting the Billboard Hot 100 hits “In My Blood” and “Youth.”
“Listening to the album, I think it’s one that represents his maturing as an artist,” he says. “In the future, people will see it as a turning point when he went from teenager to respected musician.”