Celebrity

Nick Cannon Makes It Pop

Nick Cannon Makes It Pop

By Angela McLean

Nick Cannon does it all – he’s a musician, actor, businessman, media mogul and the co-creator and executive producer of the hit show MAKE IT POP! If you haven’t watched the show yet, you’re missing out on something BIG! It follows four music-loving friends – Sun-Hi (Megan Lee), Corki (Erika Tham), Jodi (Louriza Tronco) and Caleb (Dale Whibley) – who form a K-pop-inspired band while attending classes at their school, Mackendrick Prep. Talk about an awesome extra-curricular activity!

XO-IQ - MAKE IT POP, Season TwoMAKE IT POP’s second season, which premiered in January, has given fans new characters, new drama and new music and become one of YTV’s top-rated programs. Just before filming for season two wrapped up, Nick flew out to surprise the cast on set and filmed a special cameo for the finale.

In the finale airing on YTV February 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET, the pressure is on as Sun-Hi, Jodi, Corki and Caleb do final preparations for XO-IQ’s first ever nationally televised performance. In the midst of romantic tensions, new life-changing offers and a serious threat from Mackendrick’s Principal Diona to shut down the performance, will the band be able to pull it together in time to wow their star-packed audience? No spoilers here: you will have to watch to find out!

Vervegirl sat down with Nick Cannon on set for an exclusive chat about his role on the show, bringing K-pop out west and how MAKE IT POP makes it pop.

Vervegirl: Nick, you’re back in Toronto to shoot a guest spot on MAKE IT POP. What can you tell us about your role?

My role is me! I made a cameo last season as myself and it’s the same thing this time around. We find out that I’m an alumnus of Mackendrick Prep and now I’m actually trying to spread the news and the word about some cool things that are going down at the school. It’s a lot of fun!

VG: Fans of the show may be surprised to know you are one of the co-creators and executive producers! Take us through some of the fun things you do.

I am very involved! I get to look over storylines when the writers are writing but I think it all goes back to the original concept which is what I created. I had really wanted to produce a show in the world of K-pop. My executive stuff at Nickelodeon and in the development phase is making sure that this show gets picked up every season. Everyone’s so talented and I’m very happy.

Dale Whibley and Nick Cannon on set of MAKE IT POPVG: When you were creating the show, what was your vision?

Ultimately, I wanted to do a show about K-pop and I thought it would be really cool to show K-pop set out west. My partner Tommy Lynch and I got together and figured out some cool things, started doing some worldwide casting and here we are today.

VG: If you could have any K-pop artist guest star on the show, who would you choose?

G-Dragon for sure. (FUN FACT: Dale Whibley, who plays Caleb on the show, told us on set that he is a big fan of G-Dragon! Check out more of our interview with Nick and Dale here.)

VG: Season two of MAKE IT POP features a lot of great, catchy music, which is all featured on XO-IQ’s new album, ‘Tomorrow Is Ours.’ Which song is your favourite?

I don’t have a favourite – they’re all great!

VG: How do you think MAKE IT POP makes it pop?

I think MAKE IT POP is cool, innovative and something that’s never really been on television before. To bring music and comedy all together in each episode sets the show apart.

Thank you, Nick! Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCannon and don’t miss the season finale of MAKE IT POP on YTV February 4 at 7:30 p.m ET.

‘Tis The Season to Make It Pop

‘Tis The Season to Make It Pop

By Angela McLean

If you are looking for ways to make your Christmas pop, consider adding some EDM-infused pop beats, colourful costumes and hip dance moves to the mix. This combination forms the basis of the new hit musical comedy series MAKE IT POP which follows four music-loving friends – Sun-Hi (Megan Lee), Corki (Erika Tham), Jodi (Louriza Tronco) and Caleb (Dale Whibley) – who form a K-pop-inspired band while attending classes at Mackendrick Prep School. The show is co-created and executive produced by Nick Cannon. If that’s not incredible enough, what makes MAKE IT POP so unique is that the band on the show, XO-IQ, also performs together in real life!

'All The Love'XO-IQ has delivered a special Christmas treat for their fans who have been eagerly awaiting the premiere of season two – a special MAKE IT POP Christmas episode! In the special, Sun-Hi, Corki, Jodi and Caleb look forward to the freedom and excitement that comes with their winter break. However, a massive blizzard rolls in and threatens to put a stop to all of their fun plans. Will the mysterious new boy, Linc, be able to save them and help them find the true meaning of the holidays? You will have to tune in and see!

XO-IQ still has more to give to their fans. Their holiday EP, ‘All The Love,’ which came out November 20, features a trio of covers and original holiday songs. Next up is the release of their sophomore album ‘Tomorrow Is Ours,’ which is out December 18 and features music from season two of MAKE IT POP.

Vervegirl went on set and caught up with Dale Whibley (Caleb) and Nick Cannon, who was in town to surprise the cast, to chat about season two, making dreams come true and the best Christmas carols.

Vervegirl: How would you describe MAKE IT POP to someone who has never seen an episode?

Dale: It’s a show about these four kids who really just want to make their dreams come true. They all come from different worlds and they really have the same goal and that’s to make this band a success.

Caleb (Dale Whibley) in MAKE IT POPVG: Dale, tell us about your character Caleb and what’s new with him in season two!

Dale: Caleb Davis is a crazy, outgoing DJ who makes the music for the group XO-IQ. He went through some awkward troubles last year getting along with the girls and talking to other people in general but this year he’s coming out of his shell. He goes through some troubles with Jodi which are a little crazy but they bring him out of his comfort zone. You get to see the real Caleb and see what he’s really turning into.

VG: What are you looking forward to sharing with the fans in season two?

Dale: A lot more music. The difference between season one and season two is that it has evolved into something bigger. Club Ri Ry is even bigger, the wardrobe is flashier and the music has evolved more. It’s all a step up.

VG: If you could have any K-pop artist guest star on season two, who would you choose and why?

Dale: G-Dragon because he’s sick.

VG: Fans have a lot to look forward to in addition to the arrival of season two in January, including an awesome Christmas special this month! What can fans expect from that?

Dale: The Christmas episode is not necessarily your typical feel-good Christmas special, but it’s your Christmas special with a MAKE IT POP twist. It’s not necessarily Christmas; it’s the holidays. We capture every aspect. We’ve got Jodi who we find out is from another religion, and we have everything coming together as one. It’s really just a feel-good, happy, fun thing.

Nick: There’s some really cool Christmas music.

VG: On top of the Christmas special, XO-IQ just released a holiday EP, ‘All The Love.’ What’s your favourite Christmas carol?

Nick: “Jingle Bells”!

Dale: “Deck the Halls” is always a good one. “Jingle Bells” is a good one too.

Dale Whibley and Nick Cannon on set of MAKE IT POPVG: The music in season two is bigger and better than ever before and it will all be featured on XO-IQ’s new album, ‘Tomorrow Is Ours.’ Which song is your favourite?

Dale: That’s a hard one. I love our Christmas stuff! “Jing, Jing, Jingle,” which actually came out on our holiday EP, is one of my favourite songs from season two by far.

VG: How do you think MAKE IT POP makes it pop?

Dale: I think it really brings everything that you need to see on TV that you haven’t seen on TV before into one show, season after season and episode after episode. Everybody has someone that they can look up to and follow and watch and it’s just great to see.

Thank you Dale and Nick! You can get XO-IQ’s holiday EP, ‘All The Love,’ on iTunes now. Also, look out for ‘Tomorrow Is Ours,’ the new album by XO-IQ, available Friday, December 18.

Don’t miss the MAKE IT POP Christmas special on Nickelodeon (U.S.) tonight – December 5 – at 9 p.m. ET and on YTV (Canada) Thursday, December 17 at 7 p.m. ET.

Stay tuned for more of Vervegirl’s exclusive interview with Nick Cannon on set of MAKE IT POP!

WE Day Toronto Celebrates the Power of You, Me and We

WE Day Toronto Celebrates the Power of You, Me and We

By Angela McLean

Youth have the power to change the world and the proof is in the success of Free the Children’s annual WE Day. On October 1, 20,000 students, educators and change makers from over 900 schools made Toronto’s Air Canada Centre their classroom. Together, they celebrated their incredible volunteer efforts over the past year through the WE Schools program and were rewarded with an incredible line-up of celebrities and inspirational speakers to help keep the conversation going. Toronto’s 9th annual WE Day festivities served as a kick-off to the 2015-2016 worldwide WE Day tour and marked the start of Free the Children’s birthday celebrations, considering this is their 20th anniversary.

Demi Lovato took on co-hosting duties at WE Day Toronto on October 1. Angela McLean/Vervegirl

Demi Lovato took on co-hosting duties at WE Day Toronto on October 1. Photo Credit: Angela McLean/Vervegirl

Toronto’s energetic crowd was treated to performances from Hedley, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kiesza, Nick Jonas, Hozier, Francesco Yates and Shawn Mendes as well as motivational speeches from Demi Lovato, Nina Dobrev, Spencer West, Free the Children co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger and more. Each performer and speaker had their own story to share, but they all had one message in common: WE are powerful, WE are a movement, and WE WILL change the world.

From start to finish, inspiration filled the room as the hosts, performers and speakers led the crowd through a series of interactive lessons.

Liz Trinnear, one of the WE Day Toronto co-hosts who we know from eTalk and Much, introduced the concept of “imagineering” to students. “We all have these amazing ideas but what’s more awesome is making those dreams become a reality,” she said. “Imagination engineering, or imagineering, is the act of taking your dreams and turning them into reality. I’m an imagineer, and I’d say that you are too.”

Demi Lovato explained that she was initially nervous to speak out about her struggles with mental health – “What would others think? Would they judge me?” Demi was able to overcome these overwhelming fears and share her story, inspiring thousands of people fighting similar battles. “We are better off if we have the confidence to act. Now, I feel more confident than ever,” Demi exclaimed. “I use that energy to focus on my work and my music.” Demi also took on co-hosting duties and welcomed a good friend of hers and of WE Day to the stage – Nick Jonas!

Free the Children ambassador Spencer West took to the stage to shout out several special students in the crowd who had made outstanding efforts to redefine possible. One of these students was 13-year-old Alessio Pellegrino from Vaughan, ON. He told Vervegirl that after attending WE Day in 2014, he was inspired to make a change. In particular, he was drawn to the idea of giving a goat to a family. “A goat for a family in a developing country that is involved in the Adopt a Village program costs $50,” he explained. “The goat provides 16 glasses of clean milk a day to a family. The goat can have babies and when the family sells the baby goats they can make money for themselves. The goats also provide daily nutrients to the family and help them live a sustainable life.” Within two months, Alessio and his classmates raised $7,300 and used the funds to purchase goats. He advises students like himself who have been inspired to take action. “Share your ideas,” he said. “If you have an idea and you really want to do it, don’t hold back.”

Shawn Mendes performs his song "Never Be Alone" with members of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra at WE Day Toronto. Photo Credit: Angela McLean/Vervegirl

Shawn Mendes performs his song “Never Be Alone” with members of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra at WE Day Toronto. Photo Credit: Angela McLean/Vervegirl

NBA legend and two-time Hall-of-Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson was a highlight speaker for all the sports fanatics in the crowd. He stressed the importance of working as a team to maximize the impact of your efforts. “I’ve been a part of 5 championship teams with the Lakers,” he said, “but this championship team, the WE Day team, is the BEST team I have ever played on.” He encouraged everyone to invite all of their friends to the team. After all, who wouldn’t want to be on the WE Day team?!

Michael “Pinball” Clemons, a Canadian sports icon and CFL Hall of Famer, delivered one of the most heartwarming moments of the day. “There is no greater gift to someone who is suffering than a big hug,” he suggested. Students responded by hugging their classmates sitting around them. “20,000 people in #Toronto are legit hugging right now,” the WE Day team quickly tweeted. Only at WE Day!

International activists and co-founders of WE Day, Craig and Marc Kielburger, address 20,000 students and educators at WE Day Toronto on October 1. Photo Credit: Chris Young/Canadian Press

International activists and co-founders of WE Day, Craig and Marc Kielburger, address 20,000 students and educators at WE Day Toronto on October 1. Photo Credit: Chris Young/Canadian Press

 

Back in the city where WE Day began, Craig and Marc Kielburger had plenty of final advice to share with the Toronto crowd. Craig took the opportunity to show how far Free the Children has come. He said, “20 years ago, I was nervous and I didn’t think we had the power to make a change. Now, 20 years later, I look from this stage and see a generation that knows they have the power to shift this world.” His words resonated with the young crowd who realized that they, too, could be on the WE Day stage in a few years sharing their story with a new generation of change makers.

Kiesza ended the show with a smash performance of her singles “Sound of a Woman” and “Hideaway” that had the whole crowd on their feet. Looking out at the audience, she said, “You are the generation of the future. You’re going to change the world! We are going to change it together!”

With those words, 20,000 people returned to their regular classrooms with a renewed sense of hope and new ideas to continue making a difference.

Don’t miss your chance to relive the magic of WE Day when a television special with highlights from the show airs on MTV Canada Monday, December 7 at 9 p.m. ET.

Stay connected with the WE movement at www.we.org.

Check out Vervegirl’s snaps of the stars arriving at WE Day!

Riding Waves with The Tide

Riding Waves with The Tide

By Angela McLean

Meet Austin Corini, Drew Dirksen, Levi Jones and Nate Parker. Together, they make up the new pop-punk band The Tide. This Los Angeles-based foursome blew us away with their high-energy performance and upbeat tracks when we saw them live during Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert Tour. It’s no wonder that the guys have amazing fans, including British band The Vamps who signed The Tide to their record label. Coming up, The Tide will be joining The Vamps on their 2016 UK arena tour and will be prepping for their debut album release which is slated for next summer. Catch The Tide now – this is just the beginning.

Vervegirl sat down with The Tide backstage at Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert in Toronto to talk The Killers, Friday night music nights and their epic prank war with The Project.

The TideVervegirl: You’re in the middle of your first ever Canadian tour! What are some of your must-haves while on the road?

Nate: My cell phone and hairspray.

Levi: My Nintendo DS and food.

Austin: Wi-Fi and video games.

Drew: Slingshots.

Nate: Slingshots?

Drew: We always take the catering food and slingshot it at people.

Levi: We never have slingshots!

Austin: I’ve had slingshots before. Those were bad news. I got into trouble with the slingshots.

VG: How would you describe your sound?

Austin: We are a lot like The Killers but more modern. We all have punk-rock blood in us. We’re really big fans of All Time Low, My Chemical Romance, Green Day and bands like that.

Levi: Our live performance is based off the energy of a punk-rock show and our music is like top 40 radio but Killers-driven.

VG: You posted an acoustic version of your original song, “Fall In Love Tonight”, on your YouTube channel earlier this year! What inspired that song?

Levi: Food. [Laughter]

Austin: We wrote it back in LA and we wanted to write a fun song about a typical night out where you’re with your friends dancing and having a good time and meeting the right person while you’re out there. Back where I’m from, we would have this Friday night music night downtown and there would be this big concert. Me and my friends would go dance. It was really fun and that was the atmosphere that inspired the song.

The Tide PhotoshootVG: Do you have any set timeline for a debut album?

Levi: Next summer.

Drew: That’s just an idea of when the album is going to come out.

Nate: Expect a lot of music.

Levi: We’ve been working on it and writing a lot and we’ve been doing well. We’re really excited to show it to our fans.

VG: You guys are signed to The Vamps’ record label. What has it been like having them as mentors and friends?

Levi: So cool. They’re like our best friends.

Nate: They definitely don’t seem like bosses. They’re more best friends than anything.

Drew: It’s like having your best friend be like, “Hey, go play a show today.” You’re like, “Alright, cool, let’s do it!”

VG: Can we expect any musical collaborations between The Vamps and The Tide?

Drew: You never know.

Levi: That would be cool.

Austin: You’ll have to wait and see!

The TideVG: You guys have toured with The Vamps in the past. Have there been any epic tour pranks?

Nate: It’s a bit of a prank war we’ve got going on.

Levi: Me and Nate got pranked by Connor and Tristan. They call themselves The Project. While we were gone, they put coffee grounds, soap and shampoo into our beds underneath the covers by our feet. So, at night when we got in bed, our feet were covered in coffee grounds, soap and shampoo and when we opened up the blankets they were stained brown. The next morning I was lying in bed and Connor tweeted to his millions of followers that I pooped the bed! We got him back. We put mayonnaise underneath their door handles and on their phone.

Nate: Basically on anything you could touch.

Levi: Tristan picked up the phone and got mayo on his face. It was funny.

Nate: It was a prank gone bad though because James wasn’t even in it and he walked in first and he immediately got mayo all over his hands from the handle of the door.

Levi: Ah, it was good.

VG: You recently posted a new cover of Charlie Puth’s song “Marvin Gaye” to your YouTube channel. How do you choose which songs you want to cover?

Drew: When a song comes out that we like, we try to go for that song and do our own version of it.

Austin: We listen to top 40 radio. We just like the idea of taking what’s out there and what people like to hear and making it our own.

VG: You guys are fresh on the scene! Why do Vervegirl readers HAVE to check out The Tide?

Austin: There’s nothing like us right now. We’re bringing new elements to the table. We’re friendly and we’re here to party and make some fun music.

Thank you, The Tide! Follow The Tide on Twitter @TheTide and Instagram @TheTide.

Wake Up and Meet The Vamps!

Wake Up and Meet The Vamps!

By Angela McLean

The last few years have been amazingly crazy for British boys Brad Simpson, Connor Ball, James McVey and Tristan Evans, better known as The Vamps. It all started when these talented guys started uploading covers of popular songs to their YouTube channel back in 2012. The success of these covers gave them a platform to release their own original music including their debut single, “Can We Dance”. It racked up over one million views within weeks of its posting and gave The Vamps worldwide exposure. Continuing with this success, their debut album, ‘Meet The Vamps’, peaked at #2 on the UK Official Charts and has since been certified gold. In support of the album, The Vamps have been touring the world and meeting thousands of fans, but arguably none are as dedicated as their Canadian fans who had the chance to see their faves while they were on tour with the Family Channel this past August.

Wake UpFans can expect to see a lot more of The Vamps in the coming months – it was just announced that their new single “Wake Up” will be dropping October 2, with their album of the same name following on November 27.

Vervegirl met up with The Vamps before their big performance at Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert in Toronto to get the inside scoop on ‘Wake Up’, working with Shawn Mendes and touring with their bros.

Vervegirl: Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert Tour is your first Canada-wide tour but it’s definitely not your first time on the road! What are some of your tour must-haves?

Tristan: A WhizBoard and PlayStation 4.

James: A football.

VG: How would you describe your sound?

Brad: As people know it now, it’s acoustic-driven and indie-pop. As for where it’s going, the music will sound like Imagine Dragons.

VG: The Vamps Live EP just came out exclusively in Walmart stores across America. Tell us about the EP!

James: The EP was done at The O2 Arena in London so it’s our live show. Hopefully fans will like it. If they haven’t seen us live then it’s a good preview.

The VampsVG: Your sophomore album, ‘Wake Up’, comes out November 27! Is there anything in particular that heavily influenced the overall vibe of the album?

Brad: With the last album, “Can We Dance” and “Wild Heart” were the DNA of the album and those two songs were the frontrunners of the album. It’s the same with this one. There are a couple of important songs that shape the rest of the album. The sound is a bit more of ‘80s synths and it’s more like the new Taylor Swift album and MGMT.

VG: You guys worked with one of our favourite Canadians, Shawn Mendes, on a special version of your single “Oh Cecilia (Breaking My Heart)”. How did that collaboration come about?

Brad: We were touring with him over the last year and we became quite good friends. He’s got a great voice and he’s a nice guy. He’s 16 but looks like he’s 35.

Tristan: He looks like an action man!

VG: You guys have your own record label in collaboration with EMI/Universal! How did that project come about and what are your roles in the operation of the label?

Tristan: It’s great! We love the business side of it. We’re quite hands-on with everything when it comes to music, marketing and the way the artists are going to be pushed and what direction they’re going to go.

The VampsVG: One of your signings, The Tide, is also playing on the Big Ticket Summer Tour! How does it feel to be their older musical brothers?

Tristan: It is like having a meal with a bunch of kids. I sat down and had lunch with them the other day; it felt like being back at school. [Laughter] It was cute. Yeah, they’re lovely and it’s great to hang out with them on tour and have an opportunity to shape and mould a band from day one.

VG: Can fans expect a collaboration between The Vamps and The Tide?

Brad: Definitely! We’ve been writing a lot together. In terms of putting out a song together, maybe in the future. We do really like their sound and everything that they’ve been doing. It’s all really cool.

VG: Do you have anything you want to say to your incredible fans?

James: Thank you very much for all the support. We’ll be back soon to Canada for more fun times.

Thank you, The Vamps! You may know The Vamps’ song “Girls on TV”, but on Friday, September 25 at 7:30PM ET, The Vamps will be the Boys on TV! Don’t forget to tune into the Family Channel for the exclusive Big Ticket Summer special. Follow The Vamps on Twitter @TheVampsband.

Discover Becky G!

Discover Becky G!

By Angela McLean

If there’s one artist that we “Can’t Get Enough” of, it’s 18-year-old Becky G! She’s a singer, songwriter, actress and COVERGIRL and her catchy pop-rap tunes have been stuck in our heads since her introduction to the music world in 2011. After releasing her ‘Play It Again’ EP in 2013, Becky G has been busy touring the world with the likes of Jason Derulo, Demi Lovato and Katy Perry and teasing new music for her fans. Next, Becky G will be hitting the road with Latin pop artist J Balvin and putting the finishing touches on her debut full-length album!

Vervegirl hung out with Becky G before her headlining performance at Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert in Toronto and talked about her tour must-haves, breaking a sweat and the one and only J-Lo.

Vervegirl: You’ve been on the road for quite some time. What are some of your tour must-haves and what’s the weirdest thing you bring with you?

Good food! I always need to have snacks galore because I’m always munching. I need lots of blankets and I always have my two go-to hoodies that I always have on when I’m in the bus. I would also say just good people. It’s good to have good people around you. My dancers are amazing. We just started working together and I love them to death. Also, family – my DJ is my cousin and I brought his little sister Rara on the road to assist me. The weirdest thing that I have is a black light and little glow-in-the-dark stars to put in my bunk. Once you close the shade it’s really dark and it’s like your own coffin in there! It gets really scary so I got a black light to light up the room a little bit and I made everything glow in the dark. It’s weird but it’s cool.

Becky GVG: How would you describe your sound?

It’s pop fun with a little bit of an urban Latin vibe. I like to mix it up a little bit.

VG: You recently released your new single “Break A Sweat”. What inspired the song and how would you describe its vibe?

It’s a fun song obviously. I feel like it’s super catchy and it’s definitely a nice workout anthem. When I listen to it, I just picture myself in a really cute workout outfit, running at the track and breaking a sweat with all the cute guys watching. It was a lot of fun to record. It was also a struggle because it is the most vocally challenging song that I’ve recorded to date and I was so proud of myself when I finally got it. I was like, “Wow!” You listen to it and you don’t really pay attention to how high those notes are and I was like, “How am I going to do this?” I did it and it sounds great and I’m so happy with it.

VG: “Break A Sweat” is just one of the many amazing tracks we can expect to hear on your debut full-length album! What can you tell us about the album and when will we be able to hear it?

Hopefully very soon! If all goes well with “Break A Sweat” and we shoot the music video and we keep performing it and the fans love it, we’ll probably release another single then the album. So, I would hope the end of this year or the beginning of 2016. The album has been a lot of fun to make. There are so many songs. I don’t know how we’re going to narrow it down because I got signed when I was 14 and now I’m 18 and I’ve created little bonds with each song that I’ve recorded. I’m a writer on all of them and they’re my little babies. You’ll definitely get the best of me from it because I’ve put so much time into it.

VG: We all know and love your hit single “Shower”. Do you have a favourite song that you like to shamelessly sing in the shower?

“Waterfalls” by TLC is always a tune. There’s also the song from DREAMGIRLS, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”. I’m always belting that one like a crazy person.

Becky G and Jennifer LopezVG: In the past, you have co-written music with Cody Simpson, Jessie J and Cher Lloyd and been a featured artist on those tracks. Who else would you like to write and record with?

There are a lot of people. I think it would be cool to collaborate with Bruno Mars. Shakira is definitely somebody on my list. I got to work with Jennifer Lopez but I have not made music with her yet. I think it would be cool if I got her to feature on one of my songs because she’s my ultimate idol.

VG: When you were just 16 years old, you got the thrill of a lifetime when Jennifer Lopez agreed to make a cameo in your music video for “Becky from the Block”. What was it like working with her?

It was amazing. Still to this day, when I watch the music video, I’m like, “That was me? Like, right next to her? How is that possible?!” I still get goosebumps because it’s a dream come true to say that I have the certified stamp of approval from the one and only J-Lo.

VG: You are one of the beautiful faces of COVERGIRL. What is your daily skincare and makeup routine like and can you share any tips?

It’s hard when you’re a teenager! It’s the inevitable breaking out and all that stuff but I think when you have such great makeup by COVERGIRL that doesn’t make it worse and covers it up, that’s the best thing ever. I’m all about cleaning my face too – makeup wipes are the best and I never fall asleep with makeup on. When I do, I’m always giving myself a little smack on the hand because it’s good to give your skin a break. Don’t forget to moisturize.

Thank you, Becky G! In addition to not forgetting to moisturize, remember to tune in to the Family Channel this Friday, September 25 at 7:30PM ET to catch Becky and all of the Big Ticket Summer performers during the exclusive TV special. Follow Becky on Twitter @iambeckyg.

Meet Shane Harte!

Meet Shane Harte!

By Angela McLean

Here at Vervegirl, we are always looking out for new and exciting talent to fall in love with and we just want to “Let You Know” how incredible Canadian singer Shane Harte is! This 18-year-old alt-pop artist is quickly making a name for himself in the industry, having released a successful debut single while also landing roles on GOOD WITCH, THE NEXT STEP and the upcoming LOST & FOUND MUSIC STUDIOS.

Vervegirl caught up with Shane at Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert in Toronto to get the inside scoop on his new single, being lost and found and his amazing fans.

Shane HarteVervegirl: The Big Ticket Summer Concert Tour is your first big Canadian tour! What are some of your tour must-haves and what’s the weirdest thing you bring with you?

My tour must-have is definitely tea. Tea is a huge thing that I drink all the time whether I’m on tour or not. It’s good for vocal hygiene and just keeping everything smooth and not so rough. My other must-have is my guitar. I brought it on tour and I couldn’t leave without it. The weirdest thing I bring is something called a Neti Pot. It’s also for vocal hygiene. You use it to clear your sinuses and stuff. It’s really strange and it looks very weird when you use it but it definitely helps with everything.

VG: How would you describe your sound?

My personal sound is definitely more pop but it has an alternative mix in there. I definitely like to play around with production and writing. Growing up, I always listened to alternative music so I definitely think it bleeds out naturally into what I do.

VG: Your debut single, “Let You Know”, came out in May! What inspired that song and how would you describe its vibe?

I think it’s something that a lot of teenagers go through, when you have someone that is such a good friend to you and you have feelings for them and you don’t really know how to express it without feeling like you’re going to lose a friend. I think it’s such a relatable topic amongst teens and I think that’s where the song came from. I went through it and I know a lot of people go through it. It’s just giving that comfort to someone who’s going through that to be like, “You know what, I am going to let this person know I have feelings for them. I’m just going to do it because why not!” The vibe of the song is very summery and it’s very upbeat. It’s a big tune and I really enjoy it!

VG: Do you have any set timeline for a debut EP or album? What can you tell us about that?

That’s actually going to be in the works after this tour. I’m playing a new single on the tour called “Left Standing” and as soon as this tour is done we’re going to be releasing it. It’s doing really well on the tour so far. I’m getting a lot of great response from it and everyone keeps tweeting me, “When is it going to be released?! When are you going to put it out there?!” So, after the tour is done that’s definitely what I’m going to be focusing on. We’re still trying to figure out if an EP or an album is more suitable but there will definitely be a body of work released soon.

Shane HarteVG: Throughout the Big Ticket Summer Tour, you have repped the other performers, including Becky G and The Tide, by wearing their merchandise during your set. Who will you be repping tonight?

Tonight is going to be just me. I’m not repping anybody else but myself tonight in my own city but St. John’s, I’m definitely going to be repping my NEXT STEP people for sure. A lot of them are great friends of mine. I’ve only known them for a short period of time but we’ve worked so closely together so I feel like I’ve known them forever. They’re all so talented and welcoming so I have to rep them out too.

(Editor’s Note: Shane ended up representing the Toronto Blue Jays, his hometown baseball team, during the show!)

VG: Who are some of your favourite artists that you like to rep on a daily basis?

Yesterday I was wearing a The 1975 shirt. They are definitely one of my biggest inspirations. I love bands like The Neighbourhood and Nirvana. There’s a little bit of a 90’s vibe in there for sure.

VG: In addition to being a talented singer, you’re a very talented actor and have appeared on GOOD WITCH and THE NEXT STEP! Do you find that there are any parallels between acting in television shows and performing on stage?

For me, I find them completely different. Maybe it’s just because music has always been something that I’ve loved and acting was something that I’ve gotten the opportunity to do. I don’t really get as nervous for the acting thing as much as I do the music thing. I think it’s because music is my baby and it is something I’ve been doing for a long time. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and maybe I’m a little bit too hard on myself but with acting, for me, I find it works so much better when you’re carefree. So, for me, it’s very different but I’m sure for other people it would be pretty similar in the sense where you have to perform and you’re putting yourself out there. For me, they are two separate things.

Shane Harte and Bailee Madison on GOOD WITCH

VG: You’re going to be starring in Family Channel’s new series LOST & FOUND MUSIC STUDIOS this winter. What can you tell us about the show and your character?

The show follows a bunch of singer/songwriters and musicians that go to this performing arts after-school program. It follows them creating relationships and the whole drama of being a teenager. It’s a reality style drama and it’s also a spin-off of THE NEXT STEP. It’s the same producers, the same director and the same creators. It’s the same style but following musicians instead of dancers. It’s a lot of fun and Luke is actually the lead singer of the band, and he’s very driven in wanting to be a musician. That’s very much like me in real life and that was one thing I found really cool to play on TV – someone that’s so driven and wants to do it.

VG: You recently tweeted, “You do NOT mess with my supporters. Ever.” Do you have anything you want to say to them?

Just a huge thank you. I wouldn’t be at this point if it wasn’t for them. They’re fighting for me out there! They’re really liking what I’m doing and I’m really appreciating every little bit of support I get from them.

Thank you, Shane! Don’t miss your opportunity to rewatch the Big Ticket Summer Concert, including Shane’s awesome performance, Friday, September 25 at 7:30PM exclusively on the Family Channel. Follow Shane on Twitter @Shane28Harte.

Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert Rocks Toronto

Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert Rocks Toronto

By Angela McLean

With so many incredible concerts happening in Canada over the summer months, it’s hard to pick a favourite! However, this summer, the biggest ticket was Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert Tour. This year’s tour was on a whole new level with 7 shows across Canada boasting a jam-packed line-up of today’s top teen artists including Becky G, THE NEXT STEP dancers, The Vamps, Shane Harte and The Tide. Vervegirl attended the epic Toronto tour stop on August 23 at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre and caught all of the exciting action!

Jordan and Lamar

THE NEXT STEP stars Jordan Clark and Lamar Johnson served as the night’s official hosts and kept the crowd pumped up between performances. They invited several lucky young fans on stage for games which all ended in awesome prize giveaways. Lamar told us about the fun challenge of hosting, saying, “It’s been such a great journey, especially to host Family’s 4th Big Ticket. It’s awesome to go to different locations and feel the energy from the audience.” That energy was infectious and translated into an amazing and unforgettable night.

Vervegirl caught up with the talented performers and hosts of Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert Tour backstage to chat about their Canadian fans, high-energy performances and summer staples.

Vervegirl: You are performing at Family Channel’s Big Ticket Summer Concert in Toronto! How has the Big Ticket Summer tour been treating you and how has the reception been from your Canadian fans?

Shane HarteDrew (The Tide): The tour has been going insanely well. It’s been so much fun.

Austin (The Tide): We’ve had a blast. We’ve never been to Canada before so this has been a really cool first experience. Our fans so far here in Canada have been awesome. It’s been great meeting people outside and seeing them having a good time dancing during the concert.

Becky G: It’s been so fun! This is my first time in Canada ever so I wasn’t expecting any love from anybody. I was like, “I have no fans!” Just kidding. It’s been so cool to perform and afterwards see so many fans waiting by the tour buses to meet us. The love has been so overwhelming and so incredible and it’s really exciting for me because I love traveling so much and getting to tour and know new places and new people.

Shane Harte: The tour has been really great so far! The crowds have been amazing. I think everyone’s taking what I do and my music really well. I’ve definitely gained a few fans over the past few shows and I’ve actually taken the time go out and meet them. It’s been a lot of fun and they’re treating me really well!

Brad (The Vamps): It’s been really good! It’s nice to be touring Canada. We’ve only ever played in Toronto once so it’s nice to be getting out and seeing more lovely places. We went to Banff which was so beautiful. Big thank you to the Family Channel for having us out!

VG: What can fans expect from your performance?

Brad from The VampsLevi (The Tide): A LOT of energy! Lots of jumping. We make everybody stand up.

Drew (The Tide): If you expect to go there and sit down in a chair, you are mistaken.

Becky G: Lots of energy! Sometimes I feel like I turn into a different person.

Shane Harte: My set is very high-energy. I definitely like to get everybody on their feet dancing and singing along. I just want to get everybody having a good time, you know? I think that’s the whole point of performing.

Brad (The Vamps): A lot of energy, a lot of sweat, a lot of shouting and a lot of jumping and dancing. We like to have good crowd interaction and make sure everyone is having a good time.

VG: Now we have a few rapid fire questions so Vervegirl readers can get to know you better! My summer fashion staple is…

Levi (The Tide): My Vans.

Nate (The Tide): Bracelets and Vans.

Austin (The Tide): Black skinny jeans with holes in them.

The TideBecky G: My sneakers.

Brittany (THE NEXT STEP): Shorts and a plaid shirt.

Shane Harte: White Vans.

Connor (The Vamps): Blue jeans with rips in them.

Tristan (The Vamps): Camo.

Brad and James (The Vamps): Ray-Bans.

VG: My song of the summer is…

Levi (The Tide): “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots.

Drew (The Tide): “Girls Do What They Want” by The Maine.

Nate (The Tide): “Lane Boy” by Twenty One Pilots.

Austin (The Tide): “We Like It Loud” by Sleeping With Sirens.

Becky G: “Cheerleader” by OMI.

Brittany and Trevor (THE NEXT STEP): “Waves” by JMSN.

Jordan (THE NEXT STEP): “Cheerleader”.

Lamar (THE NEXT STEP): Any song from Miguel’s new album, ‘Wildheart’.

Shane Harte: “Cool for the Summer” by Demi Lovato for sure. I love that song so much.

Becky GBrad (The Vamps): “Cool For The Summer”.

James (The Vamps): “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd.

VG: My dream summer vacation destination is…

Levi (The Tide): Home.

Drew (The Tide): Hawaii.

Nate (The Tide): The Galapagos Islands.

Austin (The Tide): The Caribbean.

Becky G: An island-type place. I’ve never been to Bora Bora. Something super exotic and crazy looking.

Lamar (THE NEXT STEP): Santorini, Greece.

Shane Harte: LA. I’ve never been to LA before but I think in the summer it would be so much fun. That’s THE destination.

Tristan (The Vamps): Italy.

Connor (The Vamps): The Maldives.

IMG_6722tBrad (The Vamps): Barbados.

VG: My favourite pizza topping is…

Levi (The Tide): Pineapple.

Drew (The Tide): Cheese. All I eat is just cheese pizza.

Nate (The Tide): Pepperoni, bacon and jalapeño.

Austin (The Tide): All meat – pepperoni, sausage and bacon.

VG: My favourite ice cream flavour is…

Tristan (The Vamps): My favourite ice cream is either bubble gum, or banana, or chocolate…

Brad (The Vamps): Or mint, or vanilla…

Tristan (The Vamps): All of them!

James (The Vamps): I like a really good vanilla. That sounds really boring but I like it. Also, Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough.

Brad (The Vamps): My favourite is either Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough as well or Cookies & Cream by Haagen-Dazs.

Connor (The Vamps): Caramel Chew Chew by Ben & Jerry’s.

THE NEXT STEPVG: Something my fans would be surprised to know about me is…

Levi (The Tide): I’m the biggest nerd ever. I know everything about anything nerd – video games, computers, and all that stuff.

Drew (The Tide): I did gymnastics half my life and I skateboard and play paintball.

Nate (The Tide): I actually learned how to play the drums because I played the game ROCK BAND every day for 2 years straight.

Austin (The Tide): I played ice hockey for 15 years.

Becky G: I don’t have my driver’s license yet. I know how to drive! I just don’t have my license.

Trevor (THE NEXT STEP): I sleep talk.

Lamar and Jordan (THE NEXT STEP): We sing!

Brittany (THE NEXT STEP): I love banana chips. I also change my hair at least twice a year.

Shane Harte: How much I don’t sleep! I definitely work really hard on my music so I find a lot of the times I will stay up all night and I’ll be like, “Oh, I should probably go to sleep.” I don’t think it’s a good idea to go to work and be super tired but I do stay up a lot and work on music for them.

Tristan (The Vamps): I broke my nose.

Don’t miss your opportunity to relive one of this summer’s hottest events! The Big Ticket Summer Concert Tour special airs Friday, September 25 at 7:30PM ET exclusively on Family Channel.

Keep your eyes locked on Vervegirl for extended interviews with Becky G, The Vamps, Shane Harte and The Tide!

Meet XO-IQ!

Meet XO-IQ!

By Angela McLean

Megan Lee, Louriza Tronco, Erika Tham and Dale Whibley are 4 people who really know how to make it pop. They star on YTV’s newest musical comedy series MAKE IT POP, which tells the story of 4 music-loving classmates who become bandmates after they form a band called XO-IQ. The show features awesome music and dancing, cool costumes and plenty of laughs! Although all of the events on the show are fictional, XO-IQ is also a group off-screen and they gave an exciting, high-energy performance at the YTV Summer Beach Bash earlier this month.

Vervegirl sat down with XO-IQ to talk about staying in sync, attending the Kids Choice Awards and what their fans have to look forward to.

Vervegirl: XO-IQ shines on MAKE IT POP! Tell us about the show.

Megan: The show is about 4 freshmen who attend a school called Mackendrick Prep and they form a band called XO-IQ – that’s us! We tried to audition for the school play but the thing is freshmen don’t get the leads so that’s the point of the first season and all the adventures that we get into. There’s romance and really cool music.

VG: You are 4 very distinct personalities but you each complement each other. What do each of you bring to XO-IQ and how do you stay in sync?

Louriza: I think we all know each other’s strengths and what we can provide in the group and how we can help out. I’m a little more hip-hop trained and based for dance, Megan does more singing and Erika just loves being on stage and she has that flavour with the audience.

MAKE IT POPDale: We’ve really family oriented ourselves so we’re all kind of together and it keeps us at a balanced level for when we go on stage.

VG: Each of the performances on the show are amazingly well-choreographed. Did you have a dance background coming into the show?

Erika: Personally, not at all.

Louriza: YOU OWN IT GIRL!

Erika: I honestly have never danced before the show. Megan and Louriza are both really trained and super great at what they do so they really helped me out and Addy, our choreographer, and Cora, my dance mentor, are great too.

VG: How much time do you spend learning the choreography for each episode?

Megan: It takes at least 3 hours. We are on a really tight schedule so we never have a set schedule for rehearsals. Whenever we have time between shoots we rehearse together.

VG: MAKE IT POP is co-produced by Nick Cannon. Have you had the chance to meet him and if so, what was that like?

Dale: We had some fun with him on set. Then, we had the chance to go over to the Kids Choice Awards out in Los Angeles and he walked us down the carpet. He introduced us to so many people and he was really nice to us.

Megan: He’s really cool. He played a really father-like role during the show.

VG: Why do Vervegirl readers HAVE to watch MAKE IT POP?

XO-IQ at the YTV Summer Beach BashMegan: If you love music, and drama…

Louriza: If you like being happy, then you should watch the show!

Dale: Bright colours, awesome music…

Megan: We have fun outfits!

VG: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Louriza: I love Jessie J. She’s the bomb. I think Bruno Mars just owns the stage when he’s doing his set. He has his band and everything, but he just takes over the spotlight.

Dale: A couple of DJs. DVBBS is great. They’re a great performing group. Skrillex is always great. I just love my EDM.

Megan: I love Taylor Swift, mainly because I’m totally a country girl! I play the guitar and I love to write my own music so these days I really look up to Taylor Swift.

Erika: I love Rihanna. I think she’s so effortless and just so cool.

VG: What’s next for you?

Megan: We’re working on the second season. Lots of new music!

Erika: This season is crazy. I think fans are really going to be blown away.

Megan: There’s going to be some new characters as well. People are getting hyped for season one right now but we just want to let them know that season two is even better so there’s so much to look forward to.

Dale: You have to make sure you watch season one because it gets intense. It’s a crazy stir that once you come into season two it just makes it all even better.

Get ready to make it pop with XO-IQ! MAKE IT POP makes its Canadian debut on Wednesday, September 9 with two back-to-back episodes beginning at 7:00PM EST on YTV.

Watch XO-IQ’s performance at the YTV Summer Beach Bash whenever and wherever you want by clicking to YTV’s YouTube channel.

Meet Charlie and Kolton!

Meet Charlie and Kolton!

By Angela McLean

Think back to some of your favourite childhood toys. Now, imagine one of them blowing up your house! That’s the premise of YTV’s hit show SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, starring talented teens Charlie Storwick and Kolton Stewart. In addition to being business partners on the show, Charlie and Kolton are musical partners in real life. Much like their on-screen characters, Charlie and Kolton are energetic and full-of-life! Their cover of Meghan Trainor’s “Lips Are Movin” had the crowd at YTV’s Summer Beach Bash dancing and singing along.

Vervegirl met up with Charlie and Kolton to talk about toys, ghosts, Ellen DeGeneres and more!

Vervegirl: You both star on YTV’s hit show SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED. Tell us about the show and your characters, Piper and Jarvis.

Kolton: The show is about this 14-year-old kid named Jarvis. He gets a toy for Christmas and it blows up his house. So, he goes to the toy company and sues them and in the lawsuit he ends up getting the toy company. He hires all of his friends and it’s all of these teenagers running a toy company!

Some-Assembly-RequiredCharlie: Piper happens to be one of the friends he hires and she handles the technical side of the company and does the video games. She’s really fun to play. She’s sarcastic, ironic and a punk. Her and I are very similar.

VG: What was your favourite toy to work with on the show?

Kolton: They are all so much fun! Once, we had this big thing of Kooky-Dough and it was literally like this big ball of clay.

VG: Netflix recently showed a lot of love to SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED and picked it up around the world. How does it feel for you both to be reaching a whole new international audience?

Charlie: I’m really excited to meet new fans and build a fanbase out there and share our project with the world.

VG: Why do Vervegirl readers HAVE to watch SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED?

Kolton: It’s got your classic comedy that everybody likes in a sitcom but it also has another dimension of drama. There are a lot of relationships and love interests so I think the show covers all the bases. Also, the characters themselves are very different so it connects with every kind of personality.

Charlie: There’s definitely a lot of energy, a lot of fun and a lot of crazy things. There’s even a rollercoaster which is pretty cool. It’s a great show.

VG: Charlie, you just released your new solo single, “Ghosts”, which is an incredible edgy pop song. Tell us more about how “Ghosts” came to be and what inspired it.

Charlie: I actually wrote the song a couple years ago. It was really late at night and I was sitting in my room and I heard a noise and it kind of scared me a bit! I punched in a few lines because I got in this mindset of ghosts. I was given an opportunity to make it into a single and it just wrote itself. I’m really proud of it and really excited to share it. It’s dark pop so I feel like it’s a cross of Sia with Lana Del Rey with Lorde. Those are 3 people I really admire.

VG: Charlie, you won season 4 of YTV’s THE NEXT STAR back in 2011. How has your sound evolved since then?

Charlie: It’s definitely become a little edgier and I’ve found my sound more. I’m discovering myself as an artist a little more every year.

VG: Kolton, you and your friend Myles were invited to perform on The Ellen DeGeneres Show back in 2012! Tell us how that experience came about and what you were feeling when you got the call.

Kolton: So cool! I was 12 years old at the time and I always sang but I never did a YouTube video. I was at Myles’ house one night because we were filming a show and we decided to post a YouTube video. Actually, we were just playing and Myles’ mom recorded it and then she put it on YouTube. It was just crazy! It went viral and by 20,000 views Ellen saw it and she called us up and asked us to be on her show. I thought it was fake until we got there. It was an unreal experience. She’s amazing and just the way she is on camera.

Charlie and Kolton at the YTV Summer Beach BashVG: Kolton, around the same time, you also connected with Justin Bieber. Has he given you any good advice?

Kolton: He has! It’s been really cool to know him because he’s doing what I want to do. He is so successful so to be backstage at his concerts and see the hard work that’s put in and see how to get there is very good. He’s been a very good mentor.

VG: Kolton, these days, you post covers of popular songs on your YouTube channel. What has been one of your favourite songs to cover? What are some songs you would potentially like to cover in the future?

Kolton: All of them have been fun. I love covering Ed Sheeran’s songs and I just recently did Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” which was a lot of fun because I like dancing so I incorporated dancing into the cover. I don’t know what’s next just because I’ve been so busy but literally tomorrow I’m going to take a look at the charts and probably get one up soon.

VG: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Charlie: Sia, Lorde, The Beatles, Lana Del Rey…I just love The Beatles! Also, this band called Mother Mother and Shawn Mendes.

Kolton: Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake. Those are kind of my 3 and I’m hopefully going to put my own music into that range. I also love Ray Charles, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.

VG: What advice do you have for budding musicians?

Charlie: Definitely stick to your roots, know who you are and stay confident in your decisions.

Kolton: Never give up. It can get tough and it can get discouraging but if it’s what you love, nothing should stop you from it.

VG: What’s next for you?

Charlie: We’re filming season 3 of SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.

Kolton: Hopefully more music and acting.

Thank you, Charlie and Kolton! Catch SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED on YTV and Netflix now. Follow them on Twitter at @sooocharlie and @kolton_stewart.

Watch Charlie and Kolton’s performance at the YTV Summer Beach Bash whenever and wherever you want by clicking to YTV’s YouTube channel.

Discover Shawn Hook!

Discover Shawn Hook!

By Angela McLean

Canadian talent is slaying the music game right now, and Shawn Hook, a B.C.-born singer/songwriter, has caught music lovers’ hearts in a “Million Ways”. His catchy electro-pop tunes have been blowing up the airwaves and charts. In fact, his latest hit, “Sound of Your Heart”, has stayed high on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 for over 4 months and has since been certified gold. His famous fans include Tori Kelly, who had him as an opener on one of her tour stops in Toronto, Victoria Duffield and gossip blogger Perez Hilton. If you’re not a member of #TeamHook now, get hooked.

Vervegirl caught up with Shawn before his performance at the YTV Summer Beach Bash to talk about ‘Analog Love’, his musical inspirations and giving back.

Vervegirl: You released your new album ‘Analog Love’ in June. What story does the album tell?

There are multiple stories. Each song in itself is a small story. In general, I think it speaks more to me growing as an artist. I had a lot of fun with this record and I’m a lot more self-assured with the songs.

Analog LoveVG: What’s your favourite song off the album to perform live?

“Bad Girls”! It’s a fun song.

VG: Your latest single, “Sound of Your Heart”, has become an international hit. What inspired that song?

I co-wrote the song with two guys and we just started talking about what’s going on in our lives. That’s usually how a co-write session happens – we start talking about what’s going on in our lives because it’s better to write a song from a real experience. I’m in a long distance relationship and so I was talking about that and the struggles and challenges that come with it and we just went from there and constructed the song.

VG: Before ‘Analog Love’, you released an album called ‘Cosmonaut and the Girl’. How has your sound evolved over time?

I think the songwriting has evolved in the sense that I’m getting a little more picky with what I want to put out there. I want to make sure I’m happy with every lyric and every melody. Otherwise I’m not going to put anything out there. With this record, I really took my time with that. Also, sonically, my label now trusts me more to venture out and bring in different producers that I want to work with.

VG: Where were you the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio and what was going through your head?

I was in the Okanagan in Kelowna, BC when I heard my song “So Close”. It was cool! As a kid, I dreamed of hearing my songs on the radio and to finally hear it was just a moment of affirmation.

VG: Do you have any places in particular that you like to write music where your creative juices really flow?

There are certain times I’ll start writing lyrics on a plane and I find being on a plane and looking out the window, I like that for lyrics. For music, I have a really nice set-up at home where I have my upright piano and candles.

VG: Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?

I grew up listening to The Beatles, a lot of country music and some classic rock like Prince and Clearwater. Then, in high school I got into John Mayer when he first released ‘Room for Squares’ and Coldplay with ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head’. Those two records were really big through high school. In college, I discovered Radiohead. Those were the foundations of my music.

Photo Credit: Andy Vanderkaay

Photo Credit: Andy Vanderkaay

VG: When you’re not busy recording and playing music, you like to give back to the community. Can you tell us about your charitable organization, Live to Give?

Live to Give started as Feed the Need. A friend of mine and I got together and we wondered, “What can we do to help?” We wanted to help out and see what we could do. At first, we started doing tours through high schools to raise food for food banks and then we did a concert to raise funds for a school in Guatemala. We don’t have anything on the agenda right now but we’re hoping to do another tour to work in with my tour when we go out to tour the record.

VG: Do you have any advice for budding musicians?

Do it as much as you can, as often as you can, and in all aspects of it, meaning performance, recording, practicing, everything. Just submerse yourself into it. I think the perfect balance is having some talent and skill but also the drive and perseverance because that’s really what separates you.

VG: What’s next for you?

I’ve done some deals internationally for my music in America, France and Australia. I’m hoping to go to these other markets and introduce my music to them and share it with the rest of the world.

Thank you, Shawn! You can get Shawn’s album ‘Analog Love’ in stores and on iTunes now. Follow Shawn on Twitter @Shawn_Hook.

Watch Shawn’s performance at the YTV Summer Beach Bash whenever and wherever you want by clicking to YTV’s YouTube channel.

Meet OMI!

Meet OMI!

By Angela McLean

Oh, I think that we’ve found ourselves a new favourite artist! His infectious anthem “Cheerleader” has been stuck in everyone’s heads all summer and now Jamaican recording artist OMI is here to stay.

“Cheerleader”, a song about celebrating the people who are always rooting for you, made its debut in the music world in 2012. It managed to dominate the charts and airwaves in Jamaica, Hawaii and Dubai, but OMI knew the song had more potential. Once German producer Felix Jaehn got his hands on it, a new radio-ready remix was catapulted to worldwide success and has remained in the Top 5 on iTunes since its May release.

CheerleaderVervegirl caught up with OMI – the voice behind the hottest song of the summer – at the YTV Summer Beach Bash to chat cheerleaders, Jason Derulo and why his Canadian fans are so amazing.

Vervegirl: What inspired “Cheerleader”?

The song was pretty much straightforward. It’s a concept I had where I didn’t want to do a song, I wanted to do an interlude to the album, and that’s just part of the interesting story about the development of the song. First and foremost, it wasn’t supposed to be a song.

VG: We have to ask – who is your personal cheerleader?

I would have to say my mom.

VG: We heard that you once judged a cheerleading competition back in Jamaica. What was that like?

That was fun! I was judging their outfits. That was interesting.

VG: A lot of people may not know that you originally released “Cheerleader” in 2012, but worked with Ultra Music to give it a new life and fresh sound. Can you tell us about that process and working with Felix Jaehn?

Felix Jaehn is great. What he did with the song was amazing and I think he’s a very good DJ and a very good producer. Working with Ultra is also great. It’s a great label. I think we’ve accomplished so much together and I just look for longevity and continuing this relationship.

Photo Credit: Andy Vanderkaay

Photo Credit: Andy Vanderkaay

VG: “Cheerleader” is being dubbed as the biggest song of the summer. What have been some of your favourite summer songs this year?

Ah man, I have a lot! I have songs that I listen to all through the year. As a musician, I always do that – I listen to other people’s music and I’m inspired by it. Right now, I love Jason Derulo’s song “Want To Want Me”!

VG: Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?

Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Bob Marley, and John Legend, just to name a few.

VG: You were last in Toronto for the MuchMusic Video Awards in June. How have your Canadian fans been treating you?

Very good! 3x platinum now I hear – that’s very good!

VG: What’s next for you?

The album this fall!

Thank you, OMI! Connect with OMI online by following him on Twitter @omimusiconline and Facebook OMItoday.

Watch OMI’s performance at the YTV Summer Beach Bash whenever and wherever you want by clicking to YTV’s YouTube channel.