If there were an easy path to pop stardom, singer-songwriter Shawn Hook would have crossed it long ago. Instead, he traded the short shelf life of teen idol status for the steady mastery of his craft. The game plan paid off with Shawn’s debut hit single, “Sound of Your Heart,” which when released in 2015, tore up Top 40. That only set the table for bigger things to come: his Hollywood Records premiere EP, “My Side of Your Story”.
In its four songs the EP shows Shawn’s flair for musical and emotional colors, grounded in irresistible pop panache. “With an EP you don’t have a lot of time to give someone an impression of your work,” says Shawn, who co-wrote each song. “I wanted to make sure my music was diverse. My tastes are diverse. So it’s not one tone or one taste.”
“Reminding Me”, from his premiere EP has already drawn national attention. The sensual ballad features Shawn in duet with Vanessa Hudgens. The track has logged more than 10 million streams on Spotify and hit the Top 20 in Shawn’s native Canada.
The EP closes with the hard-edged “Dancin’ in the Sky,” co-written by Shawn, Joey Vitas, Ryan Tedder of One Republic and Noel Zancanella, who also produced the track. It picks up on the nostalgia theme, proposing a world much better than today’s hot mess. Sound impossible? That’s just how Shawn Hook rolls.
Raised in rural British Columbia, Shawn Hlookoff grew up far from the big city, but from an early age harbored big dreams. He studied piano as a kid, later making his first attempts at songwriting. His high school music teacher changed the course of Shawn’s musical life by forcing him to learn a new instrument: the trombone, which “rounded me out as a musician.”
Passing on the opportunity to work in the family business, Shawn instead bet on himself. He changed his name for starters to something more apropos: Hook. “When I first started writing I focused on hooks,” he says. “A hook is the basis. Once you have it, you can form the story around it. We all sing karaoke waiting for the hook.” With no manager and no prospects, he went all in on his career. “I had no back-up plan,” he recalls. “I played open mic shows every night. I wrote a song a day. I knew I had to get better every day.”
Shawn eventually recorded and produced his own debut album in 2004. That led to signing with his longtime manager, Pierre Tremblay, and shifting the focus to the U.S. market. Shortly after, Shawn signed with Freeform as a staff songwriter. He had his original compositions featured on several Freeform and ABC network shows, including “General Hospital.”
From there he made the move to artist. He had several high-charting hit singles in Canada off his album, “Cosmonaut and the Girl,” with “Sound of Your Heart” becoming a Top 30 hit across North America. He toured the U.S., Canada and Europe with Lindsay Stirling and Marianas Trench, and also signed with Hollywood Records/Universal Music Canada.
“They are a great company,” he says of his new label. “Typically labels make promises that never happen. Here they’ve been patient with me. When I first sat down with them, they asked me what kind of record I want to make.”
With the release of new EP and single, Shawn has been seizing the moment, appearing on NBC’s “Today” (singing “Reminding Me” live with Vanessa Hudgens) and getting ready to bring “My Side of Your Story” to the world.
It’s a story ready to be told.