Growing up in Little Falls, Shynes saw his love for music begin after he found a bag of old cassette tapes left behind by his uncle. While listening to those tapes, Shynes recalls the emotional impact that music had on him and wanted to find ways to help others experience the same feeling.
In high school, Shynes played in a small garage band with some friends, only to see that group part ways shortly after they all left for college. When he arrived at St. Cloud State University in 2006, Shynes decided to reignite his interest in music. This time around, exploring the idea of creating a career as a solo artist.
“I loved how music would take me from one emotion to another. Feeling that impact it had on me made me want to have that same emotional impact on other people. That was sort of the seed of the idea of pursuing music for me,” said Shynes, who earned his business degree from St. Cloud State in 2010. “When I got to St. Cloud State, I pirated some recording software on my computer and just started recording music in my dorm room. I got addicted to recording. That really lit the fire in me wanting to do this.”
When Shynes was 25 years old, a death in his family pushed him to invest more time in music. Shynes’ father lost his battle with an autoimmune disease, which persuaded him to honor his dad’s legacy by chasing his dreams.
“Losing my dad, that pushed me to take the leap from doing it part time and halfway to putting everything into it. You don’t get to do this life thing for very long, life is short, so I thought why not try this thing?” he said. “If I’m going to fail at something, I want to fail at something that I felt like I was put here to do.”
Little did Shynes know, his journey as a musical artist would soon take off. And it was only the beginning.
His big break
When he embarked on his career journey, Shynes primarily focused on weekend gigs while working in St. Cloud during the week.
For the aspiring artist, he recalls a few of his initial gigs were not well-paying opportunities. But he wasn’t complaining, he was just happy to be doing what he loved.
“I worked at the St. Cloud Children’s Home part time during the week, where I was on call and would pick up shifts when I could. Then on the weekends, I would perform at different gigs. The first gig I had, I got paid $50 for four hours to perform in downtown St. Cloud, but I wasn’t complaining about it,” Shynes said. “Eventually, that went from $100 to $200 and I started to step my way up. A little while after that, I remember I played a deck bar gig in Alexandria, where I ended up making more in three hours than I did in 80 hours and two weeks at work.”
In 2018, Shynes unexpectedly caught his big break. That summer, he recorded music for Komodo – a Polish pop music group – through a job-for-hire website. Komodo ended up using his vocals for a remix to the song “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight” by Cutting Crew, which resulted in Shynes becoming a star overseas.
That song became extremely popular around the globe, ultimately resulting in Komodo asking Shynes to make a trip across the world to perform the song live. Shortly after that, Shynes found himself standing on a stage in front of over 70,000 people and having over 8 million people watching him perform the latest hit.
“I performed in front of 72,000 people and had about 8 million people watch the performance on TV, which was surreal. It felt like a movie or that I was in a different world. You can’t prepare yourself for a moment like that,” he said. “That record ended up going platinum and now triple platinum overseas and turned into a big launching pad for me.”
Remembering where it all started
Shynes’ musical career has taken off in ways he never could have imagined while growing up in Little Falls or while recording music in his college dorm room at St. Cloud State. He now has a total of six albums, with five still being printed.
While being able to scale back on the amount of shows he performs and still bring in a similar income, Shynes has career aspirations such as having a song placed in a major motion picture or TV show, one day winning a Grammy Award or having one of his personal songs go platinum.
Even with all of his successes so far, the Central Minnesotan still holds strong ties to the area, recently moving to the South Haven area while continuing to perform in St. Cloud, the community where it all started.
“St. Cloud shaped me in a lot of ways and it was a tough market for people that created original music. You have to love it and be obsessed by it. It shaped me in a way that I had to play soul-crushing bar gigs and try to find the light in all of it at the end,” he said. “St. Cloud is a community that is hard-working, honest, we like to have fun and we don’t take life too seriously. But I have always had some level of support there, otherwise I would have quit. It’s where I started, where I made my mark and where I played some of my toughest and best gigs.”
When it comes to the top moment in his career, many think it is Shynes performance in front of an endless crowd overseas in Poland. Instead, his most memorable and top moment occurred right here in St. Cloud.
“Actually, the top moment of my career so far was when I was able to sell out the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud for the first time. That was a big moment for me because this is a place I’d invested my life into and I didn’t think that would ever happen,” he said. “The hair still stands up on my arms when I listen to that show and think about selling it out. That was it for me.”
Shynes also credits and looks back fondly on his time at St. Cloud State in helping prepare him for life beyond being a Husky. After all, those lessons, those experiences and those nights spent creating music on his own in his dorm room helped set the stage for him to continue his successful musical journey to this day.
“When it came to me getting my business degree at St. Cloud State, I always knew that they had a good business program. That has helped me to this day in running a business right now where I have to market and can make a living to support my whole family,” Shynes said. “I learned a lot and it was about being able to broaden your view of the world. I had the time of my life in St. Cloud.”