Shawn Mendes treated his fans to two new songs this week with the emotional “In My Blood” dropping on Thursday (Mar. 22) and “Lost in Japan” being unveiled on Friday (Mar. 23). Ahead of the new tracks hitting the web, the singer spoke with Billboard’s Kevan Kenney about what inspired the songs and which musical artists most influenced his forthcoming album.
“In My Blood” sees a much more vulnerable, raw side of Mendes, which is about his first experience dealing with anxiety. “I’m really proud of it,” he says. “I think, especially, comparing that to all of my other music – I love all of my other songs, but…it was all kind of more vague topics about a relationship, and this is my first time breaking into something that’s more serious and more about me.”
“The concept of this song is about how it feels [when] you’re about to give up, and then you don’t,” he continues. “That’s the whole payoff in the chorus section…It’s about something that I think everybody goes through and it’s something that I think people don’t talk about often, especially in music.”
As for “Lost in Japan,” Mendes explains that he was inspired by all of the Justin Timberlake songs he was listening to at the time — oh, and an interesting night’s sleep. “I had this dream that I was lost in this country and I woke up the next day and we had this cool piano part and the song was birthed.”
Fans may notice that there’s a pretty stark difference between the two tracks, with “In My Blood” being more arena rock and “Lost In Japan” more groovy R&B, but that contrast excites Mendes: “I think people are gonna think on Thursday that it’s gonna be a rock album, and then on Friday, they’re gonna have no idea what’s going on and it’s awesome.”
Mendes also discusses the eclectic mix of musical inspirations he had while making the new record. In addition to Timberlake, he says he was “super inspired by” Kings of Leon at the start of the album, and then he “discovered the wonderful world of Kanye West.” Mendes adds that several songs were also inspired by Daniel Caesar, while he also listened to a lot of Ed Sheeran and John Mayer during the process of creating the LP. “I think is a perfect explanation as to why the music is so all over the place,” he shares, “is cause that’s how I was listening to it at the time.”
Watch the full interview above.