With the 2012 Junos now behind us, recognizing veteran acts like Nickelback, Hedley and Feist, we here at Youthink felt it was time to look forward to the next generation of Canadian superstars. In the past few months, we’ve seen some exciting things happen for some hot new artists, and Youthink caught up with four frontrunners to give you the scoop on some names we think you need to know now.
First up is Carly Rae Jepsen. Most will remember Jepsen from her third-place finish on season five of Canadian Idol. Since then, she went on to release her debut album, Tug of War, producing the single of the same name as well as the hit, Bucket. However, Jepsen’s biggest break came this Valentine’s Day when she released her latest EP, Curiosity, and on the same day announced that Justin Bieber had signed her to his US record label, School Boy Records.
Representing the guys, we have Shawn Hook. Hook, a talented singer/songwriter/pianist/guitar player, was born and raised in South Slocan, B.C. and now splits his time between Vancouver and Los Angeles. Formerly known as Shawn Hlookoff, Hook was recently signed to EMI Canada and will be releasing his debut album, The Cosmonaut and the Girl, this spring. The first single from the album, Every Red Light, has been burning up the Canadian charts, and at the time of publication, it had topped out at No. 7 on the Billboard Emerging Canadian Artists chart.
We also caught up with Abbotsford, B.C. local Victoria Duffield. Duffield’s first single, Shut Up and Dance, hit No. 1 in Canada and has now gone platinum. What’s even more impressive is that Duffield is still in high school and maintains an over 90 per cent average! Duffield is a true triple threat – she sings, dances and has acted on TV shows like Smallville.
And lastly, hailing all the way from the east coast (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to be exact), we chatted with Kay Boutilier, who now calls Vancouver home. Going by the stage name of simply Kay, some of you may have already had the pleasure of seeing the pop singer/rapper live when she opened for Hedley’s Canadian tour this year. Beyond Hedley, Kay has also opened for huge headliners like LMFAO and Far East Movement. If you haven’t checked out the video for her single My Name is Kay yet, it will give you a great idea of what this up-and-comer is all about.
We expect to see more big things from all four of these artists in the coming years, so here’s your chance to get to know them on their exciting rides to the top of the Canadian music scene and beyond.
Hometown: Mission, B.C.
Currently resides in: Vancouver, B.C.
Relationship status: “Taken.”
Record label: 604/School Boy Records
Current single: Call Me Maybe
Shared the stage with: Marianas Trench, The New Cities, Hanson
Big breaks: “Canadian Idol and Justin [Bieber]’s support.”
Biggest musical influences: Sinead O’Connor, James Taylor, Feist, Van Morrison
Favourite Canadian artists: Feist, Leonard Cohen, Jann Arden, Justin Bieber
Online: www.facebook.com/Carlyraejepsen, @carlyraejepsen
How she got signed to Justin Bieber's label: "Justin was home in Canada for his Christmas break, and just sort of around the same time Call Me Maybe was starting to play on the radio a fair bit. He heard it and his girlfriend [Selena Gomez] heard it, and I guess they reacted pretty strongly to it. So he tweeted a couple of times and... [I didn’t] really [think] much past it and Scooter [Braun] and him started to kind of just investigate more. They found out that I was in fact not signed outside of Canada and so they talked to 604, my current label here, and asked if we’d be interested in just splitting the music with them. We negotiated while I was on the road with Hanson and by the time I got back, everything was signed, sealed and delivered. They flew me to L.A. to meet the team not two days after that so it’s been a whirlwind to say the least.”
Meeting Bieber: “My first impression of him really exceeded any of my expectations. I already thought he was amazing for his talent and how young he is to have already achieved so much in his life. And then also his kindness of really helping a fellow Canadian and showing his support in a way that is so generous. But meeting him in person was even better than that because he also proves just to have this passion and spark for music, which I’m really glad he’s kept through all of this madness – and he writes as well, which I think not a lot of people know. And we actually on our first day of meeting together ended up doing a duet together like that night. He had the song sort of ready to show me and at the end asked me if I liked it. And I of course was really blown away by it but he kind of exceeded even my expectation of the first meeting by saying, ‘Jump in the studio. Why don’t you sing that?’ And I was like, ‘What?! OK’ and I did and it was just a really warm welcome.”
The No. 1 song, Call Me Maybe: ”It’s a pretty simple song about a girl kind of having the nerve to approach a guy. I think there are times when you feel that energy and you don’t really act on it because you’re shy or you try to play it down, but I think there is something exciting about being brave enough to approach somebody when you feel there’s a spark or attraction there. And as for watching it kind of grow on the iTunes charts and rise, it’s been the most thrilling thing ‘cause this has been something that truly I’ve been working for since I was, I don’t know, seven years old, I guess. And it’s actually working – and I never in a million years would have imagined that my path would have led me this way, but I’m so happy it did.”
Highlight of Canadian Idol: “I think the first audition was the highlight for me. I was so terrified and didn’t know if they would react well to what I was offering and I actually made the decision last minute, rather than to play a cover as we were supposed to do, just to play an original song of my own. And I didn’t know if I was breaking the rules – in fact, I was pretty sure that I was – but I did it anyways ‘cause I kind of thought it might be my only chance on the television to do it. And so when I did that, and they reacted so positively to it, I felt just very encouraged and very excited to move forward.”
On Leonard Cohen, Feist, Jann Arden, Justin Bieber, Dragonette and their influence on her music career: “There are some things about their careers and their artistry that inspire me. I mean, to see Justin explode the way he did and to see how in person he’s still just this like good-natured, down-to-earth man… I think that is just like beyond inspiring ‘cause I feel like there’s no point in having all this success if you can’t be a kind, good person at the end of it too. Leonard Cohen, the lyrics that he’s offered... I mean, I can remember nights sitting with my mom where we’d just sit through Famous Blue Raincoat and kind of dissect every word and understand what was meant by it. I do have a passion for lyrics so generally like the Jann Ardens of the world and the Feists of the world I find I can listen to their songs many, many times and never ever get bored of them. And then Dragonette for the pop feel that she’s inspired in me. I listen to her music and I want to dance and it makes me want to create that same sort of vibe for other people.”
Relationships status: Single
Hometown: South Slocan, B.C.
Currently resides in: Los Angeles, CA and Vancouver, B.C.
Record label: EMI Canada
Current single: Every Red Light
Shared the stage with: The Midway State, The Beach Boys, Heart, Feist, Sarah McLachlan
Musical influences: The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Coldplay, Queen
Life influences: Family
Favourite Canadian artist: “I look up to Bryan Adams a lot.”
Online: @Shawn_hook, facebook/shawnhookmusic, www.vevo.com/artist/shawn-hook
The debut album: “It’s a record about my life, finding my way through Los Angeles, growing up in a small town and the stories along the way. There are fun songs, energetic songs and kind of more deep, meaningful songs.”
Songwriting inspiration: “Sometimes it comes from my relationships. Music has always been a release, whether it’s been a happy release or a mad release or whatever. It depends. It can come from a conversation and sometimes people say song titles without knowing it and I’m always the first to say, ‘Oh, that’s a song title!’”
On changing his last name from Hlookoff to Hook: “It was purely practical. There were so many mispronunciations, misspellings in articles. My name is a Russian name and it was actually changed from the original spelling ‘Glukov.’ So I figured if someone changed it in the past, I could change it again.”
Future goals: “I envision myself continuing to build and grow my career and inspiring others with my music. I want to take it as far as I can take it. I don’t know how far that’s going to be, but I envision playing stadiums and doing this on a big level like some of the bands I look up to right now like U2 and Coldplay.
Final words: “At the end of the day, when someone hears my music, I want them to lose themselves in it. Maybe not take their life so seriously or maybe think a little deeper. Any time I can do that as an artist, I feel like I’ve done a good job. That’s what I hope to do and continue to do to captivate my audiences so they can feel something when they come to my shows and listen to my music.”
–Arielle Sie-Mah – Western Canada High School, Calgary AB
Hometown: Abbotsford, B.C.
Currently resides in: Abbotsford, B.C.
Record label: Warner Music Canada
Current single: Feel
Relationship status: “Who wants to know?”
Biggest musical influences: Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Bob Marley
TV appearances: YTV’s The Next Star, Smallville, Supernatural
Favourite Canadian artists: Drake, Nelly Furtado, Hedley, Justin Bieber
Online: facebook.com/victoriaduffieldofficial, @VDuffield
Growing up: ”Our household is very musical. We always had music playing, so it was easy to see my rhythm and how much I loved to dance. I was always singing and writing songs, too. I was actually going through my room with my mom the other day, and we found these old lyrics that I had written for a song about butterflies! So it has always been in me, and always been something that I loved to do. I also just liked entertaining people, and when we had company over at my house when I was five, I’d say, ‘Alright, now it’s time for me to sing for you!’ So it has always been in my blood.”
Reaction to Shut Up and Dance going platinum: “I never thought that it would go platinum! Being my first single, I thought, ‘OK this will kind of get the attention of a few thousand people, and more people will find out about my next single,’ so I was shocked! When it went gold, I just thought, ‘Yes, it went gold, this feels so good!’ But getting that boost from gold to platinum went even faster than I thought and it felt unbelievable.”
Managing school and career: “It’s really about just finding that right balance. When I’m away in Toronto working, there isn’t much time to do homework or all the things I have to catch up with, and I have to focus on singing, interviews, choreography and rehearsals. But when I get home, it’s pretty much... getting as much work done to catch up as soon as I can, because I never know when I’ll have to leave again!”
Career inspiration: “I have always been inspired by Britney Spears. Her first album was something that I used to listen to over and over again. Listening back to her songs now, I still know all the words! She was definitely a big influence for me, as well as Janet and Michael Jackson. Artists that really bring that extra performance element always inspired me and made me say, ‘I want to do something like that.’”
Future plans: ”Over the next few years, I hope to become known internationally and go on tours, hopefully in the States or maybe the U.K., even somewhere like Japan. I hope to really spread my music around the world and influence people with it, and get a whole bunch of albums and music out there for my fans! I’ll have another single coming out in a few months, and soon an album as well. I’ve also been getting a lot of requests from my fans on Facebook to come to different cities, so I hope that I can try to please everyone and do more performances and also meet with my fans and connect with them because they are so important.”
–Madelaine Armstrong – Crofton House, Vancouver BC
Hometown: Cape Breton, N.S.
Currently resides in: Vancouver, B.C.
Record label: Universal Music Canada
Current single: My Name is Kay
Shared the stage with: Far East Movement, Hedley and LMFAO
Life influences: “My mom. She’s gone through a lot of things in her life and when I have a hard day, I just think of what she’s gone through and I just want to make her proud.”
Favourite Canadian artists: Nelly Furtado, Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, Michael Bublé
Online: mynameiskay.com, @mynameiskay
How she describes her music in one word: ”I always say ‘electric.’”
Her big break: ”Just getting to work with all these well-established artists is an honour. You know, I’m just excited that I have a song that’s being played on the radio, and that I got to experience that first breakthrough moment... I call it my Selena moment... you know when she flies to New York for the first time? That thing that so many amazing musicians never get to experience that I got to... I’m just grateful for that. You know, I have so many things that I want to experience that now I’m like, ‘OK, now I’ve done that, now what?’ It’s a long road.”
What to expect on her debut album: “Some of my songs are darker and I talk about going through some tough stuff. So I sort of like to leave the songs for the listeners to interpret. But luckily when the album comes out, I think people are going to be really surprised. Eighty per cent of the time, I’m really happy and jumpy, and I’m a human being and I have emotions. So there are a couple of songs that I hope people can connect with... kind of see where I’m coming from.”
Who she'd like to collaborate with: ”I really like Justin Bieber. He’s the pride of Canada! I also love Michael Bublé. He’s very cute and nice, but sadly he’s engaged.”
Why she loves Shania Twain: “I don’t know anyone who can wear jeans as great as she does. I’m going to give her two points for being an amazing artist and just looking really great in jeans!”
On touring with LMFAO and Hedley: “LMFAO was a pleasure to work with because those guys work really, really hard and [it was valuable] for someone like me as a new artist to work with them, who were in my position a few years ago. Same with Hedley, they don’t really need me to be on their tours because they are popular and free to choose whomever, I guess. They’re nice and they care and they know what it’s like starting off. I’m really grateful to be part of their tours. And to be honest, they are the nicest guys, which is part of the reason why they’re so successful because they’re genuinely nice people and have people to root for them.”
Advice for young musicians: “No matter what, whether you’re the best singer in the room or the worst, it doesn’t matter – if you have a dream, just go for it. It’s all about hard work and just believing that it can happen.”
–Sandy Xu – Old Scona Academic School, Edmonton ABLogin or register to post comments. All comments have to go through a queue for approval to keep the nasty stuff out, but we'll post yours as soon as we can.