Shawn Hook Talks New EP 'My Side of Your Story,' Collaboration with Vanessa Hudgens

George Pimentel/Getty Images
Shawn Hook poses for a portrait at the 2017 iHeartRADIO MuchMusic Video Awards at MuchMusic HQ on June 18, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. 

"I want to go as big as I can," the Canadian singer says.

He played trombone in a disco cover band, spent two years studying geological engineering, and most recently filmed scenes with Vanessa Hudgens for a music video for their duet "Reminding Me" -- in his underwear.

No, it's not the beginning of a Dos Equis commercial. It's Shawn Hook's life.

Yet the singer-songwriter parlays this seemingly incredible resume with a politeness and genuine unpretentiousness that is almost stereotypically revealing of his Canadian upbringing. Raised in a "pretty small town" in a "pretty small part of the country," Hook always knew he loved music -- he's played piano since he was four -- but didn't really give much thought to pursuing it as a career, deciding instead to pursue a degree in geological engineering at his local community college. After realizing most of his time was spent on the college's music campus, however, Hook decided it was time to pursue his "number one constant:" music.

His most recent EP, My Side of Your Story, features a collection of disco-infused synthpop tracks, perhaps influenced, as Hook notes, from his early work in the disco cover band -- his first paid music gig out of high school. His sound has evolved considerably from his debut in the early 2000s, growing from guitar-based pop to a moodier, more electronic-influenced style, a change he says is consistent with his own personal growth.

"I believe in storytelling, in crafting songs to the point where all the lyrics are strong, the melodies are strong, and it’s something that I can perform live," he says. "Inspiration comes from a lot of different places. It comes from my experience in songwriting, it comes from my personal experiences in life, and also my collaborators."

Hook approached one of these collaborators, the aforementioned Hudgens, after enlisting a female friend to try out singing on his track "Reminding Me." He liked the addition of a female voice so much that he contacted Hudgens, who he'd "crossed paths with" in the past. 

"She was on my list of people I wanted to approach to see if she'd be interested," he says, "We met for coffee and she was interested in the music, she loved the record. We kind of just went from there."

The two also both appeared in the music video for the song. Filmed in black and white, the video features both Hook and Hudgens sharing intimate moments, effortlessly sexy and passionate -- though Hook is characteristically quick to admit filming the scenes were "kind of awkward."

"Vanessa’s really professional, and I try to be as professional as I can in those situations," he recounts, laughing shyly. "But our first scene in the music video was in the bed, so we were both in our underwear, like, 'Hey!...' [and] there's a room full of people, and cameras in your face, and then it’s like, ‘Alright, let’s get intimate!’" 

To alleviate the awkwardness, Hook says the crew played slow jams -- which only made it "more awkward."

"It was pretty funny, actually," Hook says, "[Hudgens] kept winking -- that was like her nervous habit, she would wink, and then I’d start laughing, and the director’s like, ‘OK, cut! Can you guys get it together?’"

Luckily, the two were able to "get it together"--in the process creating Hook's most-viewed YouTube video to date, with over six million views.

But, as Hook is quick to point out, this is just the beginning. 

"I want to continue what I'm doing for the rest of my life, at least until my old, golden years. I want to go as big as I can," he says. "But, baby steps. One step at a time."