Shawn Mendes says youth just isn’t about age.

“When we talk about the word youth, we’re not describing age, but the feeling of happiness and freedom,” he said in an interview for Variety‘s 2018 Power of Young Hollywood. “Any generation nowadays has the ability to change the world for the better.”

Mendes said he tried to capture this sentiment with his single “Youth,” featuring R&B singer Khalid. The track comes off of his recent self-titled album, released May 25, and the pair performed the song together at the Billboard Music Awards alongside the Parkland school shooting survivors.

The 20-year-old singer/songwriter said the performance was an out-of-body experience — singing about something that was bigger than himself created a special moment, he added.

Although it can be scary to voice an opinion, Mendes said artists can connect with people by talking about difficult topics such as anxiety, which he discusses in another of his singles, “In My Blood” – a song he said his 14-year-old self would have appreciated.

“It was the first song I wrote for the album, and when I came into the studio I just wanted to make a jump by being genuinely honest and truthful,” he said. “I think that’s what creates good music, and that’s kind of what breaks that barrier from artist to people.”

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