Hook hopes to have ball again at PNE

Nel­son-born Van­cou­ver res­i­dent re­turns to his roots this week­end at iHeartRa­dio event

The Province - - ENTERTAINMENT - STU­ART DERDEYN sderdeyn@post­media.com twit­ter.com//stu­art­derdeyn

Shawn Hook played the PNE be­fore. When the Nel­son-born-andraised singer first moved to Van­cou­ver, he en­tered the an­nual tal­ent show at the fair.

“Yeah, I en­tered it and I won, which was pretty cool ac­tu­ally,” said Hook. “But I haven’t played there since, so I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it.”

Hook ap­pears as part of the iHeartRa­dio Beach Ball. The two-day-long fes­ti­val just might be the very high­light of this year’s im­pres­sive ros­ter of mu­si­cal artists. Tuned into con­tem­po­rary hit­mak­ers, the lineup over the two days breaks down as fol­lows:

On Sun­day, Cana­dian star Alessia Cara is joined by Liam Payne, Lorde, Ralph, Scott Hel­man, The Strum­bel­las, Vir­ginia to Ve­gas and Shawn Hook. Mon­day fea­tures New Wave leg­ends Blondie, Chris­tian Hud­son, Ruth B, Ser­ena Ry­der and Train. While some­what skew­ing to­ward a younger de­mo­graphic, the event cap­tures the wide lis­tener base of iHeartRa­dio’s many users. In Van­cou­ver, the brand in­cludes QMFM and Vir­gin Ra­dio Van­cou­ver.

“All of our music for­mats are im­por­tant to us, but the iHeartRa­dio ex­pe­ri­ence is a kind of brand rep­re­sent­ing all things music and spo­ken word,” said Rob Farina, Bell Me­dia’s head of ra­dio con­tent, strat­egy and iHeartRa­dio. “What re­ally drives the brand is music and the live part of that is the real cor­ner­stone. In the seven years that the brand has been in Amer­ica, they have done a phe­nom­e­nal job of de­vel­op­ing that live side of things.”

Call it putting a hu­man face to a dig­i­tal con­nec­tion. Farina em­pha­sizes Beach Ball is all about va­ri­ety and avoid­ing the all-too-com­mon con­cert sit­u­a­tion of hav­ing a lineup that is ba­si­cally the same.

“We’re bring­ing a music fes­ti­val ex­pe­ri­ence into are­nas and the­atres at a rea­son­able ticket price,” he said. “It al­most hear­kens back to the early days of pop music, where you could see the Supremes, the Jimi Hen­drix Ex­pe­ri­ence and Cree­dence Clear­wa­ter Re­vival on the same bill.”

Hook has been all over North Amer­ica in sup­port of his lat­est al­bum. The sin­gle Re­mind­ing Me, with guest vo­cal­ist Vanessa Hud­gens, crosses over both hits and AAA for­mats.

“I just try to find my own lane and not re­ally go af­ter what’s hot at the time,” said Hook. “With Sound of Your Heart, it was a bit of a learn­ing curve be­cause it didn’t sound like any­thing at the time, but it felt right, felt hon­est and kind of de­fined my sound. I can’t re­ally chase trends and luck­ily I have found a place on ra­dio that I can keep on de­vel­op­ing into some­thing big­ger.”

A lot of grow­ing a per­sonal brand is about the ex­po­sure you get to po­ten­tial au­di­ences and the PNE bill should see a pretty wide cross-sec­tion of lis­ten­ers and ages in the room. Farina says that is what iHeartRa­dio is chas­ing with its event.

“In the dig­i­tal age, au­di­ences have a much wider ac­cep­tance of mu­si­cal styles and are no longer just rock or coun­try and so forth,” he said. “We worked very closely with the la­bels and artists in de­cid­ing who to bring in and tie it in with their pro­mo­tional cy­cles, so you get both the per­for­mance as well as hav­ing it carry over into the iHeartRa­dio ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The goal is for Beach Ball to be­come an an­nual event across Canada and us­ing smart pro­gram­ming to de­velop a strong al­le­giance to the tour. But Farina says the iHeartRa­dio Beach Ball is only the be­gin­ning.

“We also plan on do­ing an arena event in Van­cou­ver in the spring, be­cause Van­cou­ver is such an in­cred­i­bly buoy­ant and var­ied market,” he said. “With the en­hanced plat­form we have com­ing out this fall with more choices for con­sumers, it al­lows us the pos­si­bil­ity of widen­ing the scope of these events.”

Re­search has shown that about 70 per cent of the lis­ten­ers to iHeartRa­dio are ac­cess­ing the for­mat on their desk­top. While there is al­ways go­ing to be a rise in the num­ber of lis­ten­ers us­ing ra­dio dur­ing peak driv­ing times, we in­creas­ingly favour com­put­ers as the ap­pli­ance of choice for lis­ten­ing.

And ra­dio con­tin­ues to be the medium of choice for break­ing mu­si­cal acts. Although Hook also chased plac­ing songs in film and TV.

“It was a pretty great op­por­tu­nity for me at the time to get any­one to see my worth or credit,” said Hook. “I was re­ally lucky to have meet­ings and show­case to some peo­ple who were in­volved in the in­dus­try down in Los An­ge­les and they were won­der­ing if I had ever thought of writ­ing songs for film and TV. I write songs ev­ery day, so I was re­ally happy to do it and it cer­tainly opened some doors for me.”

Hook’s ap­pear­ance in front of his adopted home­town crowd at iHeartRa­dio Beach Ball may very well bounce some more ac­tion his way, too.

Nel­son-born pop artist Shawn Hook en­tered and won the an­nual tal­ent fair at the PNE when he first moved to Van­cou­ver.

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