The With You singer is back with a new record and will be touring this winter
Tyler Shaw has come a long way since his “Kiss Goodnight” days. Nine years later he is now a husband and a father, and has released three studio albums. This latest record, Tyler Shaw, represents an evolution of himself, drawing inspiration from his personal experiences.
Throughout COVID-19, Shaw recorded the album in his home studio, connecting with songwriters and producers from around the world. Although some challenges presented themselves, Shaw saw this as a learning experience, and felt that a shift in perspective was exactly what he needed to perfect the sound of the album.
Shaw is set to join Canadian pop opera group The Tenors on their Santa’s Wish Tour across Canada. Excited to get back out there and perform in person, Shaw is also offering VIP experiences before each show, giving fans an opportunity to connect with him in a more traditional way. The Tenors and Shaw have also collaborated on an old holiday favorite, “O Holy Night.”
On Nov. 5, Shaw hopes to spread more holiday cheer with the release of A Tyler Shaw Christmas, a holiday album which he spent most of his summer recording. The album features covers of Christmas classics as well as originals, and Shaw even shares a heartfelt song about his daughter, Everly.
The Concordian spoke to Tyler Shaw to dig deeper into his new album and upcoming tour.
TC: With so many changes in the world and your own life, whether it be COVID or your journey through fatherhood, what are you saying on this record that you haven’t said before?
TS: I think every album I write is an evolution of myself. I pour a lot of who I am in from my personal life, my own experiences, the highs and lows all into my artistry and creative writing process. I would say that my lens certainly changed through becoming a father for the first time. I wanted to articulate myself in a way that mattered. Most of the material I wrote for my sophomore album Intuition was from a perspective of being in love and imagining what my future and what that would look like, but also the growing pains of writing a sophomore album. Now I’m living out what I had manifested just a few years ago. This new self-titled project is a lot more of speaking my truth. I didn’t want to over complicate anything and overthink lyrics, I just wrote from a vulnerable, honest place.
TC: The video for “I See You,” your new single, is filled with beautiful, colourful shots. What is your favourite visual from the video?
TS: This video turned out so beautiful and I loved the post-VFX. I think my favourite part is the flurry of butterflies emerging from the well and then swarming around me in the open field. There’s an underlying metaphor about beauty and self-love that translates from the song into the creativity of the video. It was an interesting experience filming all of these shots and having the fate of the video in the hands of a post-VFX team I’d never met. They did an incredible job. I also loved the shot in the overgrown garden with the piano.
TC: This album has a different sound than the first two. How did you approach the songs differently this time around?
TS: The past year provided a unique challenge, in that being isolated at home didn’t allow for the traditional method of getting songwriters in the same physical space to create. I was connecting virtually with all types of songwriters and producers from around the world on this project, virtually. I think those global perspectives really contributed to the overall sound and I think the evolution you’re alluding to is really a concise choice. I wanted some of the instrumentation in the production to almost mimic emotions. I wanted the strings to evoke the warmth and sadness of some of the lyrics and I wanted big drums to stir up the energy and drive in other songs. I was creating an album that I can’t wait to tour in a live setting. Because the world came to an abrupt halt, I knew that it would take a while to get back to touring and live performances, so when the time came, I wanted to have epic and anthemic music to fill the room and be a release for my fans.
TC: What was your biggest takeaway, good or bad, from creating music throughout COVID-19?
TS: I learned a lot about patience and creating boundaries. I have a home studio where I recorded and wrote the majority of this new album. Living in such close quarters with my family, I had to create time to focus strictly on my project and move to a new environment. I was connecting virtually with songwriters and producers from around the world on different time zones and who were also complete strangers. It was like speed dating with creatives. Traditionally I would get into a physical room with other writers and there’s a period of time at the beginning of a session where you get to know each other but in these virtual sessions you’re baring your heart and feelings to complete strangers. It just accelerated the whole writing process, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing but just different. It challenged me to write more directly and avoid being fluffy. Just say what you mean was the mission.
TC: With all of the holiday albums that come out every year, what makes A Tyler Shaw Christmas unique and special?
TS: I’ve taken some of my more successful Christmas covers from years past and combined them with some new covers and originals to round out the project. The way I envisioned this album is that when your family comes over for Christmas Day that you stream or play this album from front to back and it helps narrate the perfect Christmas. It has a little bit of something for everyone in the family. One of my favorite songs on the album is an original song called “Christmas In Your Eyes” that I wrote for and also features my daughter, Everly. The song is written from the perspective of me reliving the magic of Christmas and holidays through my daughter’s eyes. Everly was born just before Christmas last year so this, in theory, will be her first time really experiencing Christmas and I think it’s something special we’ll share for years to come. You’ll hear her voice in the song, and I even cut her in on the publishing.
TC: You’re hitting the road this November with The Tenors to spread some holiday joy. What are you most excited for on this tour?
TS: Honestly, performing in front of people. While I loved staying connected with fans virtually over the past two years, there’s nothing better than a live audience singing along and feeding off of their energy. The Tenors put on an incredible live show and I’m happy to be joining them. I’m also offering my VIP experience for fans as well, which looks a bit different than the traditional meet-and-greets but it’s a real opportunity to connect with my fans before the show, so I’m looking forward to that.
TC: You’ve also worked together with the Tenors to bring back an old holiday favourite, “O Holy Night.” What was it like reworking a classic?
TS: I was working on my new Christmas album most of the summer, which seems strange but that’s how far in advance you need to craft music for the holidays. When I was putting together the project, I really wanted to have some type of holiday classic and make it a collaboration. There’s something so warm about voices blending and harmonizing. I landed on “O Holy Night” as one of those staple holiday classics that I felt everyone knew would be this big moment on the album. I called on my friends The Tenors, who I had coincidentally met a few years back at a Santa Claus parade performance. We recently worked together on the ArtistsCAN cover of “Lean On Me” for COVID relief last year. I’m a pop artist and The Tenors are classically trained so that was a learning curve for all of us in the studio in terms of how we orchestrated this song and made it happen. It took a minute, but I think the final version is absolutely incredible. I remember playing it for a few people when the final mix came in and people were getting emotional. I don’t want to make people cry for the holidays but the emotion this song draws from people is really special. I feel this version is timeless.
TC: If you had to get rid of all the Christmas songs in the world, except one, which one would you keep?
TS: One of my all-time favourite Christmas songs is “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Michael Bublé. If he’s the king of Christmas, I want to be the prince! You can hear the magic in his voice.
Photo courtesy of Justin Wu for Sony Entertainment Canada