Tyler Shaw On His New Album, New Daughter and New Perspective

Tyler Shaw by Justin Wu

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

“A lot can happen in 18 months… and a lot did happen in 18 months,” Tyler Shaw tells American Songwriter.

Like many musicians, the Canadian singer-songwriter’s life changed forever when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, triggering a global paradigm shift. Removed from live performances—and unable to record or work in many situations due to social distancing protocol—quarantine proved to be a fairly disorienting time, and it took Shaw some thinking and some grounding to regain his bearings. In the end, he gained a whole new perspective on the world, in part spurred by a newfound musical process, as well as by the birth of his first child in December 2020.

Now, the fruits of his labor are here—on August 20, he released his third studio LP, Tyler Shaw, via Sony Music Entertainment Canada.

A crisp pop offering—with everything from dance tracks to ballads—the songs on Tyler Shaw demonstrate the 28-year-old artist’s ear for bright, intuitive melodies and knack for tender, earnest lyricism. Coming out now, there’s an air of genuine hope to his performances, partially inspired by the hope he’s discovered… but the journey kicked off back in the fall of 2019.

“I headed down to Los Angeles to start writing this album,” he began. “It was a great start and I had a great time—everyone loves the Los Angeles weather, the people, the vibes… it’s all good. Then, Christmas break came along and the music industry usually doesn’t get back up and running until around mid-January. For some reason, the U.K. always does it for me, so at the end of February 2020, I went to London to continue the adventure of writing for this record. I was out there for 10 days and then, literally, the day after I got back, everything started getting canceled—the NBA, the NHL, everything started to go.”

It could be argued that the pandemic “hit” at different times for different folks, depending on their circumstance and ability to withstand its impact. For Shaw, the effects became apparent almost immediately. “When it started, I was kinda lost,” he said. “I was just at home, sitting there, like everyone else, so I was at a loss for creativity and inspiration. I began overthinking a lot—I didn’t know what to write about, what melody would sound best, stuff like that.”

Not knowing how to get out of this creative funk, he eventually stepped away from any artistic paths for finding inspiration… instead, he looked for something more grounding. “After about two months of the pandemic, I started to just take a half-hour for myself every morning to go sit outside, have a cup of tea, breathe the air, listen to the wind in the trees,” he explained. “I would just do the simplest shit, but then I’d be like ‘Okay, this is exactly where I’m supposed to be—completely present in the moment.’”

That may seem like a fairly straightforward thing—just a single half-hour every morning devoted to basking in the small, peaceful pleasures of life—but the impact was huge. “I did that every day for around three weeks—after that, I felt a shift in my subconscious,” Shaw said. “I started getting into a nice routine—I’d do mundane things, like vacuum and clean, and ideas would pop right into my head. I would just randomly hear a melody or a beat or get a song title idea. I wasn’t actively thinking about those things, but they just popped into my mind. It was like my subconscious was a factory and all the machinery was in motion—then I heard the ‘Ding!’ and I had this cool idea coming from my subconscious.”

Once the ice was broken, the songs started flowing in. Piece by piece, Shaw was able to put together his new self-titled record, and in the process, he learned quite a bit about himself. In fact, that’s why it’s self-titled—he realized that the ideas that were springing from his subconscious were perhaps the most raw and authentic ideas he’s been able to capture to date.

“I truly believe that who you are as a person is your subconscious,” he said. “Whether you realize it or not, that’s the part of you that’s feeding your energy. It’s who you are at your core. When I realized that, I was like ‘Oh yeah, this makes so much sense.’ So, I’m really, really excited about all of these songs. I feel like this is probably my best project yet, so I was like, ‘Well, I may as well stick my name on it and use this as a proper introduction to the world.’”

Also engaging in a wide variety of activism—including fundraising money, organizing fans, and even helping to build a school in Kenya—Shaw hopes he can play a part in making the world a bit of a better place… especially for his new daughter.

“Her birth was a major paradigm shift in my life—I was like, ‘Oh shit, I have to be the best version of me as possible, I have to make the world better,’” he said. “I wanted to do all of those types of things to make sure that everything’s in line for her to have guidance and inspiration. In terms of my artistry, I don’t think I would’ve thought of the ways that I’m storytelling now if it wasn’t for this childbirth. It’s almost like it unlocked a different part of my brain.”

Now, looking back on the experience, Shaw feels good about where he’s at and is ready to take on whatever’s next. “Like I said, a lot has happened over the past 18 months,” he said. “But a lot of people around the world have been messaging me and giving me their stamp of approval via follows and streams and all of that. I want to take this platform and use it to inspire people worldwide. So, I’m feeling really excited about the future, I really am. I’m proud of all the things my team and I have accomplished so far, but there’s so much more for us to look forward to.”


Tyler Shaw’s new album Tyler Shaw is out now—watch the music video for “When You’re Home” below:

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