Singer/songwriter Tyler Shaw has already made a name for himself in his native Canada, but with the release of his newest single, “When You’re Home,” the artist is poised to take over the rest of the world. Shaw stormed into the Canadian music scene with his hit single “Kiss Goodnight” in 2012 and he hasn’t slowed down since. He’s continued to release his own music as well as songs he’s collaborated on with other artists, whether it’s features or creations for other singers.
There’s more to Shaw’s talent than just his music, though — he’s one of those artists who’s using his platform for good. Last year, amid the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he spearheaded ArtistsCAN, a collective of Canadian artists who recorded a rendition of “Lean on Me” to raise money for those impacted by the virus. He had the likes of Justin Bieber, Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne, and more involved. It was an incredibly moving gesture that showed the right way to help people heal through song.
We’re excited to see what comes next for Shaw — and you should be too. We chatted with this Canadian artist to help him share his vision and talent with the rest of the world. Check it out in the interview ahead.
To start, I’d love for you to tell me about “When You’re Home” — how it came to be and what you want listeners to know about it.
This song was written in London last February on my last international writing trip for the album, just ahead of the pandemic. Along with my co-writers Alex Beitzke (James Arthur, JC Stewart) and Henry Brill (Phantogram, Rhys Lewis), I think we approached this song from the universal perspective of feeling at ease when you’re with someone you love and who loves you in return. My single “When You’re Home” is about having security in the person you love. Home can be wherever and whenever you’re with someone you love or admire. The song was actually inspired by a video game trailer I had seen. I was attached to its whimsical feeling with the 3/4 timing and felt very inspired by it.
I loved the ArtistsCAN rendition of “Lean on Me” because it was a great demonstration of using your talent and platform for good in regards to COVID. What was the planning of that like and what was the process of getting everyone involved?
I know, personally, I relied on music and art in general to get me through the periods of isolation and bouts of depression throughout this pandemic. Early on I was thinking of how I could pull myself out of the depths of my angst and find a genuine way to contribute and be of service. It started first with a weekly virtual concert series I named “Quarantunes,” where I had special guests from my music network join for a little chat and performance. We had guests like Alessia Cara, Sam Fischer, and JoJo involved and that was fun but very time consuming to pull off. I did 4 weeks of that and by the end I think it had set in for a lot of artists that we were in this pandemic for the long haul and most of the industry had turned to live streaming as a way to cope and communicate with their audiences. In early April, I had learned of the passing of music legend Bill Withers from speaking with my manager, Danny Reiner. He and I were discussing maybe covering a song of his for my socials to pay tribute to such an icon. As we began listening through his catalogue we came across “Lean on Me” and it really resonated with me – lyrically. I felt like a lot of news media had painted such a bleak image of where this pandemic was headed. There didn’t seem to be a silver lining or end in sight. I felt like the lyrical message of “Lean on Me” was what the world needed to hear.
The idea began snowballing once I called a few of my music friends to contribute to the cover, beginning with Fefe Dobson. We slowly assembled a network of Canadians and enlisted the help of Grammy-nominated producer Jon Levine (Dua Lipa, Celine Dion, Drake) to help execute this. Quickly we had secured a diverse range of Canada’s musical talent from Justin Bieber and Avril Lavigne to Michael Buble and Geddy Lee. It was not easy. There were many sleepless nights and I felt like my phone was glued to my hand but it was all worth it. I’m incredibly proud of the result and the success of the song and most importantly that all proceeds were donated directly to the Canadian Red Cross for COVID-19 relief efforts. I feel like the Canadian music industry is quite close knit and it was heartwarming that everyone was able to come together, ego aside for this project.
Speaking of COVID, 2020 was obviously not anything like what people planned or expected — what did you do with your year?
The year started really strong. I had some shows lined up and had begun working on my new album. Obviously, things changed in a big way in March and a lot of my international writing trips were postponed. Once I had wrapped up the “Lean on Me” project, I continued writing virtually with as many people as I could and really digest my thoughts and feelings. It was challenging not being in a physical studio and building off of human connection but I think that, in a strange way, this connected us in many ways. Writers and producers who I may not have had crossed paths with or had time to work with were all in the same boat. In addition to music, I spent some time renovating my home, which I had just moved into the summer of 2019. I was touring most of late 2019 so this pandemic was an opportunity to work on some projects around the house.
Did lockdown affect your creative process at all?
Definitely! I still do prefer getting into a writing session or studio setting with other writers and collaborating in person. There were challenges like juggling time zones, meeting people for the first time virtually, or trying to catch a creative vibe. We were and still are in a similar boat so I think I’ve learned patience and empathy during this process.
You’ve already made a name for yourself in Canada but now it’s time to conquer the world. What do you want people to know about you?
I’m ready for the challenge! It has always been a dream of mine to tour across Europe and more specifically I always felt like my music would really connect in the UK, which is why I keep coming back to London to write my albums. What I want people to know and learn about me is that at the core, I am a songwriter, I am a producer, and I am an artist. I’m very hands on with all aspects of my artistry from creating the music to building a live show. Growing up my main instrument was acoustic guitar and piano, and I also play drums and bass guitar. I write love songs and about matters of the heart, whether it be heartbreak or when your love is bubbling over. I hope that people will appreciate the vulnerability and honesty of my music. There’s no better feeling than taking a moment of your life, adding music to it and then months or years later have a room full of strangers singing that song right back at you.
Now, I know you create your own music as well as work with other artists and create for other artists. How do these processes differ when you’re writing for you or if you’re just writing a song that might go to someone else?
In my experience, music really takes control of me in the studio and manifests itself in different ways. I try my best to trust my intuition. There are times when I’m writing presumably for myself and realize that the song may not be a fit for me or my project but that it could be a fit for someone else. When working with other artists I really like to connect and have a conversation about where they are at in life and what’s on their mind. When we connect and relate on some level, I dig into that shared experience as a base to write from. The main difference for me is generally lyrics and melody. Music and production can always change or be altered to fit a direction for a specific artist but not all lyrics apply or feel natural for every artist. If I can connect with an artist on a concept the song starts pouring out but if I feel resistance or a lack of depth in the storytelling it’s a bit more difficult to finish a song for someone else. Most of my biggest songs are written fairly quickly because they’re real stories.
You’ve worked with some really cool artists like Nelly Furtado and Fefe Dobson, but who else is on your dream list to work with?
I’ve been so lucky to have written with such incredible artists in my career. I am a big fan of collaboration or breaking barriers for the purpose of art. I think in terms of writing, I’d love to work with my fellow Canadian Shawn Mendes, or JC Stewart. For a collaboration, I’d love to work with Lennon Stella, Alessia Cara, or Dua Lipa. Big-picture collaborations would be Michael Bublé, John Mayer, or Justin Timberlake. They are three of my favorite artists — ever.
I hear you have an album coming up — what can you share about it?
My third studio album is coming out this Spring. As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about it. I’ve taken the time to perfect this album. Every last note, vocal run and musical detail. Anything with my name on it has to be the best I can offer. I’m in a really happy and creative space in my life and I think that’s reflected in my music. The album takes the listener on a musical journey and there’s a song for everyone. All the feels are covered from sadness and loneliness, to the feeling of being in love and over the moon. I would say it’s my most honest album and definitely some of the best music I’ve ever written. If you’re a fan of Shawn Mendes, James Arthur, or Harry Styles this album is for you. I look forward to bringing these songs to life in the year ahead, from music videos to the actual live show.