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March 22, 2018 02:30 PM

Shawn Mendes is back with new music and opening about his secret battle with anxiety.

On Thursday, the Canadian pop star, 19, released his guitar-driven single, “In My Blood.”

“It was kind of something that hit me within the last year. Before that, growing up, I was a pretty calm kid, super steady,” Mendes told Beats 1’s Zane Lowe. “I knew people who had suffered from anxiety and found it kind of hard to understand, but then when it hits you, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, what is this? This is crazy.’ That song is complete truth and the best thing about it is, it’s not all down. The whole reason I wrote this song was to be like, at the end, ‘It’s not in my blood to do that.’”

After rising to fame on the now-defunct social media platform Vine, Mendes released his debut album, Handwritten, in 2015. His breakout single “Stitches” hit the Billboard Top 40, and his sophomore record, Illuminate, launched him from pop heartthrob to celebrated singer-songwriter.

The newfound fame fueled his anxiety — but he’s doing all right today.

Shawn Mendes
John Shearer/Getty

“Every time I play that song for someone, I go, ‘Just so you know, I’m okay. Don’t worry about me, I promise, I’m okay,'” he said in the Beats 1 interview. “But I walked in and I was like, the only way we’re going to step up — regardless of my singing or the ways the melodies are or production — the only way things are going to get better is if it’s more honest. And that’s why I started with the whole, ‘laying on the bathroom floor.’ Like, how raw can we get? And let’s work back from there.”

In a separate interview with SiriusXM, Mendes said his desire to top his chart-topping hits drove his new single.

“Day one, I went in and obviously, after the success of ‘Holding Me Back’ and ‘Treat You Better’ and ‘Stitches’ and ‘Mercy’: How do I surpass those?” Mendes told SiriusXM Hits 1. “For me, the only way I musically am going to get past those is if I can be honest, as honest as I possibly can. I got super vulnerable, wrote exactly what I was thinking at the time.”

During a private album listening in New York City, just ahead the song’s release, Mendes said he wrote “In My Blood” just after watching Kings of Leon, one of his favorite bands, perform on tour in Europe. Watching from just off stage, he’d gotten to see how hits like “Sex of Fire” moved the crowd and said he went into the studio, determined to make something similarly anthemic.

“In My Blood” is the first single off Mendes’s upcoming third LP.

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