Shawn Mendes released his new single “What the Hell Are We Dying For?” within 24 hours of making it, and the pop star sat down with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss the inspiration behind the heartbroken track.
“I feel like over the last year and a bit, I’ve just been really struggling in the studio to find my voice and to find myself musically and to even have the courage just to be in the room with writers or step into the booth and sing,” he explained. “I was upstate New York and just on the back end of feeling a lot of things about relationships, about my career, about the environment. I was in the studio and this moment of just deep frustration came over me and I finally started to feel this inspiration come. Honestly, in that moment, it felt like it was the first time I felt that in a year and a half in the studio.”
He continued, “I think I had this feeling of urgency, this feeling of honestly excitement, this feeling of connection — this feeling of this is me right now, this is how I feel right now. […] I think we were up there in New York, the sky was orange, the air was thick and the words were flowing and this happened. In hindsight, it was scary. I woke up in the morning and I was like, “Wow, what did I do?” I think it was a good thing for me to do for myself. I had to dive into the deep end. Otherwise, I would’ve sat there for years questioning myself… and I think it wraps around to just, what is it that we care about in life? Who do we care about? What’s worth it? Why do we show up the way we do?”
As the song came on the heels of smoke in the New York skyline due to Canadian wildfires, Mendes revealed upon the song’s release that he’s donating to the Canadian Red Cross to provide relief those impacted.
The song marks his return to music after Mendes postponed, then cancelled a planned 2022 North American/European tour to focus on his mental health. “If I’m being completely honest, I feel a little confused about everything still,” Mendes explained of his current mindset. “I think a little bit, just all over the place. I feel aware of how people are receiving the song. I feel aware of the fact that I did it on a whim and I’m proud of it. But most of all, honestly, if I’m being real, I’m just happy that I broke through that horrible wall of writer’s block and I’m creating again. I’m just happy about that. And I’m just going to keep going, keep making some songs because I really think that there’s something in here.
Listen to the full interview here.