Today’s Feature, January 28-29: Serena Ryder

January 29, 2008 at 2:04 am (Today's Feature)


If you were to take a glance at the musical resume of one Serena Ryder – her songs, her lyrics, her beliefs, her remarkable three-octave range – you’d probably gather that the Canadian-born recording artist is a veteran musician of several decades. Then again, you may think twice when you read that Billboard recently awarded her the title of “Canada’s Most Promising.” While she revels in covering songs written over fifty years ago such as Shelton Brooks’ “Some of These Days” and Percy Faiths’ “My Heart Cries for You,” the fact remains that this songbird is only 25 years old.

The definition of “an old soul,” Ryder “views herself as part of a long musical continuum… that sense of history, of belonging to something greater than the moment, simultaneously roots Ryder in a glorious tradition, while also setting her apart from most of her modern musical peers.” Her new EP for American audiences speaks to this – “Told You in a Whispered Song” will turn listeners across the nation into believers of the comparisons to legends such as Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin. And while her colossal talent truly allows Ryder to stand out, she doesn’t try to be different. She finds peace in “knowing how much the same we all are.”

A live Serena Ryder performance is generally a serene event, where the artist likes to “shine light on dark places.” We all have a dark side after all, and it’s there that Serena feels we “find our most precious treasures.” You can get a real taste for her style from her past albums, “Unlikely Emergency” and “If Your Memory Serve You Well,” but keep an eye out for the new record that will soon follow her EP. Now, dive into the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Serena Ryder (PEV): How and when did you first get involved in music?

Serena Ryder (SR): I’ve been in music since I was in my momma’s belly. I did my first show out of the whomb when I was 2 at my sister’s wedding reception. I played legions and motor hotels when I was 7 and 8–you couldn’t stop me from singing.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music were you listening to?

SR: AM radio. Roger Miller, John Prine, Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

SR: I always have. I know that sounds funny but I have… always.

PEV: What were the earlier days like for your music? When you were just starting out and getting into the music business and before you were signed?

SR: Well, I played a lot more at home… wrote a lot of songs that sucked, did a lot of shows that sucked… until they started not to suck. Well, not all the time anyhow… ha.

PEV: What was it like the first time you stepped into a studio to record your own music?

SR: I’ve always loved performing live, so the studio was a bit frustrating at first…always going back and doing another take. There’s so much beauty in the imperfect. Now I know you can record live…it’s in pre-production that the slivers can be sanded. I don’t mind slivers, as long as you get them out before they get infected. I’d hate to be resposable for that.

PEV: Tell us about your first live performance on stage. What was going through your head?

SR: Absolutely nothing. It’s amazing how peacful it’s always been for me up there.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Serena Ryder performance?

SR: Well, I suppose I’d love people to have no expectations…not that I’d give them nothing but I try to play each show as a blank canvass. Every audience is so different. I like to shine light on dark places. We all have dark places and I think we find our most preciouse treasures there…that’s what I try to do onstage.

PEV: What do you want fans to take away from “Told You In A Whispered Song”?

SR: I hope they take what they need… it’s all there for them.

PEV: How is “Told You In A Whispered Song” different from other albums out today?

SR: I don’t know and, not to sound contrite…I don’t care. So many people try so hard to be so “different”. I find peace in knowing how much the same we all are.

PEV: Describe to us what it was like when you heard one of your songs on the radio for the first time.

SR: Exciting…surreal. To know that my dreams were coming true…that’s what I felt.

PEV: Being compared to Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin, is there someone you haven’t worked/collaborated with that you would like to?

SR: I’m sure there is but I suppose I’ll never know until I do. People and their music are so different…god…I’m in love with so many artists out there but I’m not sure I’d like nessesarily to collaborate. I’d love to have a beer with Towns Van Zant…but he’s dead.

PEV: Is there an artist/band on the scene right now that you think is “on the rise” and we should all be looking out for?

SR: The great lake swimmers, seriously…wow.

PEV: How has life on the road been for you? Best and worst parts?

SR: Gosh…I’ve been on the road 9 months out of a year for the last 2 years there’s been so many ups and downs and I guess, like in life. I’m happiest healthy and in love and down when I’m unhealthy and lonely but being that also gets some good songs out of me.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Serena Ryder?

SR: My family found me floating along the back creek of their property when I was a baby…I had a post-it note stuck to my bonnet…it had my name…Serena Ryder…everything was wet but the post-it note.

PEV: When you get to relax or have some down time, what can we find you doing?

SR: I like hanging with my friends…ignoring my phone and drinking…water…yum.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

SR: They are totally supportive and loving. My mom was a gogo dancer and backup singer…she loves showbiz.

PEV: In all your travels (US or International), which city has been your favorite to play? Why?

SR: Planet Earth because I’m trying as hard as I can to convince myself that’s where I live.

PEV: When you write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourself in?

SR: I try not to think…doesn’t so much matter where I am. It’s what’s on the inside that I try to bring out. I hear that’s where god lives.

PEV: What’s one word best describes Serena Ryder?

SR: honest

PEV: So, what is next for Serena Ryder?

SR: Well, I have a hard time wrapping my head around what’s going on now but I’m working on a new record. So I guess, I’m gonna be a mommy….”congratulations miss Ryder! you’ve got yourself a beautiful baby record!”

For more information on Serena Ryder, check out


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