Teen sensation Shawn Mendes was born in Toronto and raised 45 minutes away in Pickering, Ont. The high schooler has just seen his debut album, Handwrittten, soar to No. 1 on the Billboard 200. "It's craziness," Mr. Mendes said just before launching Duracell's Powering Smiles charity program with a concert for patients at the Hospital for Sick Children on Thursday afternoon. Mr. Mendes's fame grew on Vine, where his six-second performance clips caught the attention of Island Records, which gave him a record deal in 2014. "I just want to have fun," he told The Globe, and here's how.
You've been picked by Taylor Swift to open her 1989 tour and named one of Time magazine's Most Influential Teens of 2014. Is it all coming as a shock?
Totally. It's exactly as you can imagine. It's just crazy and surreal to hear all these things said about you in such a positive way.
Was there a grand plan?
Nope. Not at all. I think I was just bored one summer afternoon and I decided to post a little video of me singing and playing guitar out of tune.
What's your favourite place to visit in Toronto?
Where's the Great Hall? Queen and Dovercourt. That's where I do all my rehearsals and stuff, before shows. It's a nice little area. There's a good little burrito spot nearby, Fat Bastard.
Do you date yet?
No, I don't. I mean, I would, but I'm busy at the moment.
But if you were to have some time to spend with a friend, where in Toronto would you go?
Where did we film Believe? I think it's High Park. Yeah, I like it there. It's really relaxing. It's a sense of wilderness in the middle of the big city.
How did suburbia inspire you? You talked about being bored in your bedroom.
Totally. Growing up in a suburban home the world seems so massive to you. It seems like cities are so big and so far away and there's so much in them. So your imagination runs wild, instead of when you are born in the middle of Manhattan you'd know, like, that this is the biggest city.
What's it like going back to suburbia after being on the world stage?
I really love going back home. I think going back to a nice, relaxed little town is the best way to do it.
What keeps you grounded?
A lot of it comes down to my family and people I hang out with, my friends not acting any different when I come home, my parents being really awesome.
This interview has been edited and condensed.