Words: Amy Bell
Tyler Shaw is a Canadian singer/songwriter and it’s a fair point to say that the Toronto based star has had a great start in his music career, where in 2012 he released a single called ‘Kiss Goodnight’. These accolades earned Tyler a 2019 JUNO Award nomination for 'Pop Album of the Year.' He has opened for massive international artists including Shawn Mendes and Alessia Cara, as well as toured with Selena Gomez.
Tyler has released his brand new single, 'Sex on the Beach' where you can listen to it now!
Hi Tyler. Thank you for talking to ReVamp, how do you think lockdown helped you with writing new music? Did you feel more focused knowing you had some more time?
Thanks for having me and taking the time! The lockdown really reframed how I approached this new album entirely. Before the pandemic I would be flying internationally to different writing camps and working with people in all types of writing rooms and studios. When the world pumped it’s breaks, like most people, I was in lockdown mode. I had to find ways of being creative to feel inspired in order to write music. I was still able to connect with writers from around the world, virtually. That was a major difference for me. Usually, you’re in a shared physical space and you can “catch a vibe” with the other writers but in a virtual setting it was almost more of just jumping right in. It was certainly a learning curve, but we figured it out quickly and I think we have a really incredible new project that I’m proud of and I’m so glad to see people are connecting with it.
More time for an artist is always a tricky situation. I’ll keep writing until someone says stop! I run into the same problem with my previous albums, in having to narrow down the top tracks out of hundreds of songs written for a project. Really forces you to be introspective in your selections. What do I want to tell the world and share about myself?
You have toured with the likes of Selena Gomez and collaborated with people like Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne, how did that make you feel knowing your music was being heard?
With each new milestone in my career, I feel more inspired and motivated for the next big moment. I’ve been so blessed to work with some incredible people over the years and my next big goal is to have my music heard and experienced on a global level. It’s a rewarding feeling to know that your music has connected at all, but especially when peers and such integral artists in my own life have acknowledged and collaborated with me in some capacity.
When you were growing up, who inspired you on your music journey and did you always want to become a singer growing up?
I went through many music phases as a kid. Primarily, I listened to John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, Michael Buble and The Backstreet Boys. I loved elements of all of them from the crooner vibes to being a musician. I’m a hybrid of all of my musical influencers in one way or another. Music was always part of my life, but it wasn’t initially the big picture goal for me. I went to University in Canada for a soccer scholarship. I was a big athlete and was fortunate enough to play at University level as a goalkeeper before entering a national singing contest that led me to a debut single and record deal. I try to maintain balance between my two passions: music and sports. Whenever I have time off from touring or working on music, you’ll find me at a soccer field and vice versa. When I was in the thick of playing sports, my means of winding down and relaxing was music.
You are signed with Sony Canada and you released a single called ‘When You’re Home’ and it was produced by Jon Levine. What made having Jon there help you in releasing this single and getting the sound perfect?
Jon Levine is a brilliant producer and has a specific ear that I respect and appreciate. I originally wrote this song in the UK on a writing trip, just ahead of the pandemic. It was always a song that stuck out to my team and when it was time to start selecting music this was at the top of the list. I wanted to bring that warmth and romance to the lyrics and melody, and I think Jon was able to capture that for me. I had worked with Jon Levine on a project last year for COVID relief in Canada through my artist collective called ArtsitsCAN. We enlisted Jon Levine to produce a cover of “Lean On Me” by the late BIll Withers, which included an incredible line up of Canadian talent including Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne and Bryan Adams.
How did you feel when you got to sign that record deal? Was it always a massive dream of yours and how did you celebrate?
It’s been an incredible journey and I was excited that what started as a single deal manifested into a full label deal. I had no clue what would happen after my first single ‘Kiss Goodnight’. I was just 19 years old and everything in the music industry was so new to me. I think for any artist they envision being signed to a major label, so it was certainly a special moment. Celebrated with some champagne and was totally eager to get started on my debut album.
You have a new single out called 'Sex On The Beach' - what can you tell us about this song?
This is a fun, lighthearted summer single that everyone can jam out to. We wanted to create a song for summer that had all of those key elements people love when the sun comes out and we want to vacation and live it up. It’s super easy to sing along and dance to. Also, if you listen closely, I have a special guest vocalist on the song. I wanted a female voice on the song as a “call and response” type approach, so I enlisted the lovely and talented Fefe Dobson for this single.
How long did it take you to write and record this song and what is the process like when you produce a single?
I think the song only took a few hours to write and put together. My producer Pilz and I had a pretty clear vision of what we wanted it to sound like but kept layering sounds and experimenting. Once we played the initial demo for the team, they loved the core elements of the song and we felt it would be perfect for the summer so we dug into the production and began finessing. It was around that same time where we felt a female vocal throughout the song would be a good idea. This was inspired by Justin Timberlake’s “Senorita”.
What do you enjoy most about creating music, and when creating an album, how do you decide what songs will make the cut?
The process can have extreme moments of excitement and also frustration. I really focus on lyrics and melody. A great song can be stripped down to the simplest form and production can always be built around the core of that great lyric or melody. I build out the lyrics and the story of any song and then the producer will start to shape the song. Along the way I’ll earmark songs that feel like they belong on my album versus a song for my catalogue. For this particular album I’ve written well over 100 songs. Some of these songs will live in a graveyard of hard drives in my home studio and others have been repurposed for other artist projects along the way. The whole album process is cathartic and rewarding for me. One of my favourite parts of the business is being creative and sharing it with the world. My trusted team (manager, close family, label) weigh in before I build my final tracklisting for the album.
How do you think your sound has changed over the years and do you tend to use personal experiences to showcase your music?
My first album ‘Yesterday’ (2015) was really a brand-new experience to me. I’ve never properly recorded a song or been in a studio to write and record with other professionals. I was learning a lot, taking mental notes and playing the role of a student while finding my voice. On my sophomore album ‘Intuition’ (2018) I had a better sense of myself as a person and as a musician. The name of the album was centered around that inner dialogue and trust in my own intuition. I was a lot more hands on with writing and producing than I had previously been. This new album is very big and anthemic in nature compared to the early music which felt almost acoustic / folk for smaller intimate settings. The new album is meant for my live show; big, bold, dynamic. My music is very authentic which is why I am so involved with the process. I have a difficult time taking someone else’s songs and trying to reinterpret them for my own project. I have to connect and relate to what I’m singing even if it takes a little longer to write.
Finally, what is next for you?
Releasing this new self-titled third studio album. We’re at the finish line! I am beyond excited to share it and have been actively releasing singles since last summer in anticipation. Once the album drops, I’ve been planning some tours both locally and internationally, so when it’s safe to do so I’ll be hitting the open road to deliver a great show. I really look forward to exploring new countries and markets to share my music with new fans and belt out lyrics with my loyal fans. I’ve also been reading a few scripts recently. Hoping to dive into more acting in the near future. Hope to meet the lovely team at ReVamp very soon.
Check out Tyler Shaw's new single 'Sex on the Beach' here.