Growing up, Scott Harris was by no means into pop music. But now, the 34-year-old songwriter — who co-wrote The Chainsmokers' smash hit "Don't Let Me Down" — is the principle collaborator for one of many greatest pop stars on the earth, Shawn Mendes.
After taking part in in a band in highschool, Harris received extra severe about his singer/songwriter profession and began the Scott Harris Project. But regardless of releasing an album and doing a nationwide tour with pal (and now fellow frequent Mendes collaborator) Teddy Geiger, Harris admits, “I don't assume I ever actually discovered the sound of what that was purported to be.”
Once he realized the liberty of songwriting — “I used to be like, ‘Oh, I can write a track someday that appears like a John Mayer factor, after which subsequent day get up and do one thing that feels prefer it might be a Kanye track,'" he recollects — Harris dove into the pop world. He wrote a track referred to as “Life of the Party” that caught the ear of Island Records A&R supervisor Ziggy Chareton, who launched Harris to Mendes in 2014. Mendes reduce the track and launched it as his debut single later that yr, however Harris might inform that was solely the start of their work collectively.
“We simply clicked instantly, we had been like, 'Whoa, the vibe is so proper,'” Harris recollects of this primary session with Mendes. “We simply by no means stopped creating from there.”
Harris has since co-written 36 of Mendes' launched songs, watching Mendes develop with each album — each as a star and as an individual. The 20-year-old star's achievements have earned him the No. 1 spot on Billboard's 21 Under 21 checklist for the second yr in a row, one thing that doesn't shock Harris ("[He’s] like one other stage of human being," he jokes).
Billboard chatted with Harris about his distinctive relationship with Mendes, what makes Mendes such a particular artist, and why he doesn’t see their musical partnership ending anytime quickly.
What was your first impression of Shawn?
He walked into the room and was probably the most real and honest human. The approach he truthfully sings, and listens to individuals communicate … he's simply so understanding, so inventive, chill and such an incredible mixture. He was nonetheless studying guitar once I met him, and [when] I noticed him two or three months later, I used to be like, “Holy shit, you bought actually good at guitar.” It was insane.
What made you are feeling like there was one thing particular between you two within the studio?
It's a chemistry — there's sure individuals you simply find yourself liking and never liking plenty of the identical concepts, whether or not it's a manufacturing aspect or songwriting aspect, or perhaps a track on the radio. Something that me and Shawn nonetheless do to this present day is ship one another music and we're like, “Do you want this?” and 9 instances out of 10 we're on the very same web page. And we push one another in the best methods, and from day one it's all the time sort of felt like that.
Was there some extent whereas working collectively the place you felt that he can be a star?
In the studio, the work is so excessive. Like once we're making the document, he's sort of steering the workload and the push — it'll get to 1 a.m. after we began at 1 p.m. and he's nonetheless going robust. Then it hits 2, three, four a.m., and everybody begins to fade out, and Shawn's nonetheless going onerous at vocals, getting higher takes than he received an hour in the past and we're all like, “Wow.” His work ethic is insane. Me and Teddy [Geiger] are like, 'Do you ever sleep? Don't you simply wanna chill?'
What do you assume makes Shawn stand out amongst his pop music friends?
I feel he has a drive to determine what he needs to do subsequent greater than most. To give an instance, at the start of the album three course of, he had the concept of, “Let's strive to do that Kings of Leon, The Killers sort of factor, nobody my age is doing that. Why can't we simply do one thing slightly extra edgy, extra rock?” He has the chance to work with anybody on the earth and make a pop banger, and he's simply pondering one other approach. Even “[Lost In] Japan,” he's like, “This doesn't sound like something on the radio.” He's sort of genre-twisting, which is cool.
How do you assume Shawn handles how he's being offered to the general public as a result of he's so younger?
I don't understand how the fuck he does it. [Laughs.] It's insane, however I feel he simply actually was submerged from the [beginning] — he received began sitting in entrance of the digicam in his home at house. And from day one, he's had followers writing feedback on YouTube or Vine. It’s actually all he's ever skilled, in a approach, so he's extraordinarily good about taking an image with each single fan and simply being himself. He's simply trustworthy – like, if he has like a pimple on his face, he simply shoots it and places it on Instagram. That's his vibe.
How have you ever seen him develop because you guys began working collectively?
His musicianship is so insane. It's sort of expedited because the first day I met him within the vocal sales space and with the guitar to now. I don't assume you’ll be able to go to a Shawn Mendes present and be like, “That's not superb.” I don't care should you're like a younger lady or man, or should you're like a dad or mum taking their son or daughter to a present, I feel you're simply going to be impressed. There's been a lot onerous work put into it like from the touring on album one, to 2, to 3. Everything is simply at a higher stage throughout.
What have you ever realized from working with Shawn that has impacted your individual songwriting?
What's impacted me is the extent of how a lot drive there must be behind the artist to actually make it occur. I get despatched plenty of music by individuals to work with, and plenty of the instances I'll take a look at a video and hearken to a track and assume, “This is de facto good, I prefer it, however I can inform it doesn't have that stage of Shawn in it.” The bar's been set tremendous excessive for songs and for artists.
Is there something about your studio classes that’s the reason you assume every little thing goes so properly?
What we all the time speak about and what we each like about plenty of music is mostly making an attempt to be trustworthy. You'll in all probability hear that in “In My Blood” and plenty of [Shawn’s] music. We're all the time like, “We're not writing something that's not true, so let's begin speaking about what's occurring in your life proper now that we will write about.” When we're texting or sitting down to jot down a track, we're not choosing up devices to jam and write riffs. We're like, “What are we critically making an attempt to handle proper now earlier than we begin jamming out?”
[We can also work] on a track we did final week that we began over FaceTime — I don't get the chance to do this with plenty of artists. I'll get up with a FaceTime from Shawn of him with a guitar in his hand and he appears superb, and I'm like half asleep, and he's like, “What about this?” We get to strive lots and let plenty of shit marinate to see if it's good earlier than we return in on it. It's a course of that by no means actually stops.
Do you might have any private favorites that you simply guys have written collectively?
There is that this track that we did that’s on the deluxe model of album 2 [“Hold On”] that we're actually referring to Shawn's dad. We had been sort of writing it as my father was sick, and we ended up writing a track for our dads in a bizarre approach. To me, that’s such a particular factor that I received to do this with him. After my dad handed away, [Shawn] performed it at a present, and my sister was there, and he talked about it on stage. It was fairly surreal. I didn't understand till after how significant that session was to me, however it’s undoubtedly the primary one which involves thoughts.
What has it been prefer to be such an enormous a part of his journey and see the songs you guys have labored on for therefore lengthy resonate with individuals and turn out to be what they've turn out to be?
That's the very best feeling ever. The craziest factor is that his followers are so devoted and actually like, eat, sleep and breathe a few of the most emotional songs for us that we've written that don't get to shine as a result of they're not these huge pop bangers. We'll write a sluggish jam for the album however then the followers like join with it so onerous. It's so cool to see the followers get tattoos of the lyrics or tweet probably the most obscure line from the track the place me and Shawn are like, “Wow, that is the very best lyric we've ever written.”
He's so loyal to me and needed to maintain me within the loop, and clearly I need to keep within the loop as a result of it's vibe, friendship, and relationship. It's so cool that he's been capable of acknowledge what we’ve.
Do you guys have any objectives for the subsequent step for Shawn?
The aim is to kinda simply transfer it ahead, elevate the bar, hold being inventive, hopefully shock some individuals and elevate the work. Everyone within the undertaking, Teddy, Shawn's supervisor, A&R, I feel everybody's similar to, "How can we get to that subsequent stage?" and I feel it will get tougher to get to that subsequent stage as Shawn's rising. It's like, "What is the track that'll take this excessive?" Without overly looking out, it's all the time at the back of our minds — or no less than for me and Shawn. We're undoubtedly engaged on stuff.