Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Serena Ryder
It was only a few years ago that Serena Ryder's spirit was crushed by depression. The Canadian singer-songwriter tasted stardom in 2009 when a catchy tune called "Little Bit of Red" won a Juno Award for Best Video and Is It O.K. took Best Adult Alternative Album. To an undiagnosed depressive, the spotlight of fame can have deleterious consequences, and Serena suffered panic attacks. She abandoned her tour and retreated to her manager's couch, where she spent months sleeping the days away. When she put her suicidal thoughts into words, she finally got the help she needed in the form of therapy and antidepressants - a tough decision for a young woman who would rather be cured with herbs than drugs.

The Serena who came out of the depression is a vibrant, spiritual songwriter who composes in fits of inspiration. Her 2012 album Harmony contains songs that are more suitably categorized by element (earth, fire or water) than by genre. The lead single, the earthy "Stompa," not only gained heavy airplay on rock radio stations across Canada next to artists like The Black Keys and Billy Talent, but was prominently featured in ABC's hit show Grey's Anatomy.

Growing up in Peterborough, Ontario, Ryder honed her songwriting skills listening to some of Canada's most notable artists, including Leonard Cohen, The Band, and Paul Anka. She began performing solo as a teenager and hit the stage with many other well-known Ontario bands, including Thousand Foot Krutch and Three Days Grace. At 17, she released her first indie album, Falling Out, through Peterborough label Mime Radio. Since then, she's released four major-label records and has scored Canadian radio hits with the songs "Weak in the Knees" and "Little Bit of Red."

Serena, in love and with her spirit resuscitated, spoke with us about creating the songs on Harmony.
Serena Ryder
Serena Ryder: Hey there, Trevor. How's it going?

Trevor Morelli (Songfacts): Good. Where are you?

Serena: Chillin' out in my studio right now.

Songfacts: Do you always write or is that something that you just do for fun?

Serena: I really like hanging out in my studio. It's a really, really cool vibe. But I usually do interviews here. Being in the space where I work making the records kind of helps.

Songfacts: So the new record's called Harmony. How's it been going over with fans?

Serena: It's been going over really, really well. People have been pretty stoked on the record, which has been awesome. I've been getting really good reviews and a lot of my older fans have been pretty excited about the sound of the music. There's a lot of stuff that I've done before that's familiar to them that's on the record, but then there's lots of new stuff that keeps it fresh for them. And then there's been a lot more of the younger demographic that's been really getting involved. It's pretty cool. People are signing up on Twitter. It's like 13 year olds that think I'm cool. [Laughing]

Songfacts: Now, I've heard that when bands go on tour they kind of live in a bubble. Is that how you are? You don't really read reviews on the record?

Serena: Yeah. I ask friends and they'll send me certain things and my manager will send me certain things. I think it's important to not really look outside of yourself for approval in a sense, but it's hard not to read stuff when someone sends you something that's about you. It's something that interests me, but I also would like to one day feel like it didn't matter. But what are you going to do?

Songfacts: So the first single, "Stompa," I've been hearing that on rock radio stations a lot. Is it weird to hear yourself in between artists like Black Keys and Jack White?

Serena: I think it's rad. I think it's really awesome. I'm pretty excited about it.

Songfacts: The riff in there is kind of in that vein. I'm a bit of a gearhead, so I was wondering what guitars and effects you use to make that distorted riff at the beginning?

Serena: I wrote that riff on an acoustic guitar, and the first thing that I brought into the studio was that riff and that's how I started working with Jerrod [producer Jerrod Bettis]. That was the first idea that we started for the record. I don't know what effects he used, because I'm not a gearhead or anything. Basically, I know how to record with one microphone, so that's how I wrote. But now I use a Gibson Flying V through my Orange amp. And that's super fun.

Songfacts: That's got to be a pretty cool.

Serena: Yeah, it sounds really rad. I'm a huge fan of T Rex. A lot of people say Black Keys, but T Rex are the originators of that kind of vibe and that kind of sound. That's more of the vibe I was thinking when I was writing the riff.

Songfacts: Nice. So there's a song on the record I really like, it's called "Heavy Love." The imagery in it is a lot like rain storms and thunder and things like that. I was wondering how you came up with that.

Serena: That was a song that we were working on in my studio in Toronto. I have a studio in my backyard, my garage has been converted into a studio. It was like a two car garage and we just built it there. This was a song that just really, really organically came about. Jerrod had this really cool piano riff that he had been working on and the song just wrote itself.

As I was singing "fire," and "coming from above" and "nature" and all of those things, those sounds just kind of came out when I was writing. It was something that was perfect for me, because this record is based on the elements of earth/fire/water. And so this song's like a super, super fire song. Like how you feel when you're in that passion and you're in love, and it feels like fire, that passion. That's how that imagery started coming into my head.

Songfacts: So that one came easily?.

Serena: All of them did. All of them came very, very easily.

Songfacts: Oh, I was going to ask you if there were any that you kind of slaved over.

Serena: No, not at all. This entire record basically wrote itself.

Songfacts: Even the lyrics? So are you the type of songwriter that sits there and ponders over lyrics and rewrites things over and over?

Serena: Not at all, no. I don't like to break my back when it comes to music, when it comes to creating. I feel like it's really important to let things flow and let things come to me. If it's not natural, then you can tell that it's been forced. And this entire record was very natural.

Songfacts: There's another song called "What I Wouldn't Do." And that one sounds like it's either written to yourself or to another specific person. I was wondering where the idea for that one came from.

Serena: That song's a song about falling in love. I'm super, super in love, and it was a song that I was writing for my partner. So it was a very easy song to write.

Songfacts: What other songs tie into those themes of the elements of fire/water/earth?

Serena RyderSerena: All of them do. It's funny, because when I was writing the songs I wasn't really thinking about it. But four years ago I had this concept album idea, which I had never done before. I've always just written a bunch of songs, put it on a record and figured out what the record was called. And four years ago I was like, Hey, it would be great to have a record that was based on the elements of air/fire/water. So I could play around with different vibes and different sounds, different energies, things like that.

And while I was writing for this record, I realized that was what I was doing, and I didn't even realize it. It was so subconscious - like when you talk about something and realize you're doing it. I'd go into my studio, and it was like, holy cow, this song is an earth song, this song is an air song. "What I Wouldn't Do" is a water song. "Your love is a like a river that I'm floating down." It's all about water, the imagery's all about water. It's all about surrender. And then "Heavy Love" is a fire song. Burning like fire. And "Stompa" is an earth song. So all of the imagery with each song ties together.

Songfacts: I was watching you here in Calgary when you were playing the New Year's Eve show. Are those situations a little weird, where you're playing to an audience that are not necessarily your fans or haven't heard the record?

Serena: Why do you always ask questions that are like, "Is it weird..." [Laughing] "Does it feel bad?" No, it's totally fine. I find that a lot of situations are weird, like just in general. Like, it's weird that I get to be a musician and do this as my living. I think it's really weird that this is my job. [Laughing]

When it comes to getting on stage and comes to performing, that's something that always feels really natural to me. Feels really fun and I enjoy myself all the time. It's been really great. I love playing a gig on New Year's, because I'm doing my favorite thing on New Year's. You know how people build up their New Year's, "We're going to have the party, this is going to be so great!" A lot of times I feel like New Year's parties are let downs. You just wake up the next morning all hung over and whatever.

Songfacts: Not even remember what happened?

Serena: Exactly.

Songfacts: All right. I think we only have a few minutes here. I'd just like to squeeze in a couple of old songs, if that's okay.

Serena: Yeah.

Songfacts: I love the song "Little Bit of Red," what is that one about?

Serena: That's an ex-boyfriend.

Songfacts: Does he know it's about him?

Serena: Oh, I'm sure he does. It's fine. We're cool.

Songfacts: It's not weird to think about that over and over when you play the song?

Serena: No, because that's not what the song really means to me anymore. I feel like you write a song in the moment about something and then a lot of times the meaning of the song changes after a while.

Songfacts: Okay.

Serena: So that song, it's like, "You're black and white, he's a little bit of red." Really the essence of that song is about a balanced life, about not always seeing things as black and white. It's about allowing yourself to feel. And those lyrics, "you're black and white, and he's a little bit red," the imagery of blood or pain or allowing yourself to bleed emotionally and actually feel things. And to know that things aren't just cut and paste and cut and dry. Things don't have to be black and white. There can be middle ground. And you can be a lot of things. And that's what the song is truly about.

Songfacts: What about "Stumbling Over You," can you explain that song a little bit?

Serena: I have to remember that song. I haven't played that in so many years. "Stumbling Over You." Holy cow. I haven't even thought of it. I know it, I wrote "Stumbling over you, caught in the fire lines." It's like, "Bobby was the one who could pull you out of love, it's the one you didn't care..." That's a song about putting yourself out there into the world and not taking responsibility for your own feelings and your own emotions and how that feels, kind of letting yourself do that.

Songfacts: Which songs on this new album are you the most excited to get out there and play live and have been getting the best reactions?

Serena: Well, "Stompa" has been getting the best reaction, because it's the first single.

Songfacts: Super high energy.

Serena: Super fun to play. I love playing this entire record. I think it's really fun. I'm pretty stoked. I really like "What I Wouldn't Do" a lot. I think that's really fun to play. My favorite one to play live is "Baby Come Back." I love playing that one live because I get to do a few different things, I get to play drums.

Songfacts: So what's the plan for the rest of 2013? More touring? More recording for future?

Serena: World domination. Yeah, lots of touring, lots of playing shows, taking over the world.

February 20, 2013. Get more at serenaryder.com.

Comments:

No Comments yet! Be the first to leave a comment!

Name
Where are you from?
Your Comment
 security code

Steve Forbert - "Romeo's Tune"Steve Forbert - "Romeo's Tune"
"Let me smell the moon in your perfume..." It took a rough mix and an extra verse, but Steve found his "calling card" song, which is always the encore.
Joe JacksonJoe Jackson
Joe talks about the challenges of of making a Duke Ellington tribute album, and tells the stories behind some of his hits.
Andy McClusky of OMDAndy McClusky of OMD
Known in America for the hit "If You Leave," OMD is a huge influence on modern electronic music.
Lajon Witherspoon of SevendustLajon Witherspoon of Sevendust
The Sevendust frontman talks about the group's songwriting process, and how trips to the Murder Bar helped forge their latest album.

Search in Songwriter Interviews
search
Songwriter Interviews titles
Aaron Beam of Red Fang
Aaron Gillespie
Aaron Lewis
Adam Duritz of Counting Crows
Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne
Adam Young of Owl City
Al Anderson of NRBQ
Al Jourgensen of Ministry
Al Kooper
Alan Merrill of The Arrows
Alex Call (867-5309)
Allee Willis: Boogie Wonderland, Friends theme
Amanda Palmer
Amy Grant
Andy McClusky of OMD
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash
Angelo Moore of Fishbone
Ann Hampton Callaway
Anna Canoni about Woody Guthrie
Annie Haslam of Renaissance
Anthony Raneri of Bayside
Antigone Rising
Art Alexakis of Everclear
Asher Roth
Badi Assad
Bart Millard of MercyMe
Becca Stevens
Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl
Benny Mardones
Biff Byford of Saxon
Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers
Bill Withers
Billy Gould of Faith No More
Billy Joe Shaver
Billy Montana ("More Than A Memory" - Garth Brooks)
Billy Steinberg
Bo Bice
Bob Daisley
Bobby Liebling of Pentagram
Bobby Whitlock
Boz Scaggs
Brad Arnold from 3 Doors Down
Brad Smith of Blind Melon
Brandi Carlile
Brandon Heath
Brenda Russell
Brian "Head" Welch of Korn, Love and Death
Bronze Radio Return
Bruce Robison
Bryan Adams
Butch Vig
Buzz Osborne of the Melvins
Carol Kaye
Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)
Chad Urmston of Dispatch
Chan Kinchla of Blues Traveler
Charles Fox
Charlie Benante of Anthrax
Charlie Daniels
Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go's
Chris August
Chris Fehn of Slipknot
Chris Isaak
Chris Knight
Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes
Chris Squire of Yes
Chris Tomlin
Chris Willis
Chris Wilson of The Flamin' Groovies
Christopher Cross
Chuck Billy of Testament
Cody Hanson of Hinder
Colbie Caillat
Corey Hart
Craig Goldy of Dio
Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets
Cy Curnin of The Fixx
Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay
Dan Reed
Daniel Moore ("Shambala," "My Maria")
Danko Jones
Danny Kortchmar
Dar Williams
Darren King of MUTEMATH
Darryl Worley
Dave Clark
Dave Innis of Restless Heart
Dave Mason
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum
Dave Stewart of Eurythmics
Dave Wakeling of The English Beat
Dean Pitchford
Denny Randell
Desmond Child
Devin Townsend
Devo
Dexys (Kevin Rowland and Jim Paterson)
Dez Fafara of DevilDriver and Coal Chamber
Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper/Lou Reed)
Dino Cazares of Fear Factory
Don Brewer of Grand Funk
Don Felder
Donald Fagen
Donnie Iris (Ah! Leah!, The Rapper)
Dr. John
Dropkick Murphys
dUg Pinnick of King's X
Duncan Phillips of Newsboys
Dwight Twilley
Eddie Carswell of NewSong
Eddie Reeves
Edwin McCain
El Sloan of Crossfade
Elvin Bishop
Emilio Castillo from Tower of Power
Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls
Emmylou Harris
Eric Burdon
Eric Kretz of Stone Temple Pilots
Francesca Battistelli
Francis Rossi of Status Quo
Gary Brooker of Procol Harum
Gary Lewis
Gary Louris of The Jayhawks
Gary Numan
Gentle Giant
Georgia Middleman of Blue Sky Riders
Gilby Clarke
Glen Burtnik
Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket
Gordon Bahary
Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)
Graham Parker
Graham Russell of Air Supply
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Greg Puciato of Killer Be Killed and Dillinger Escape Plan
Gretchen Peters (Independence Day)
Guy Clark
Gym Class Heroes
Hal Ketchum
Harold Brown of War
Harry Shearer
Hayes Carll
Henry McCullough
Henry Paul of The Outlaws, Blackhawk
Holly Knight
Holly Williams
Howard Bellamy
Howard Jones
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull
Ian Anderson: "The delight in making music is that you don't have a formula"
Ian Astbury of The Cult
Ian Thornley of Big Wreck
Ingrid Croce
J.D. Souther
Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees
Jake Owen
James Williamson of Iggy & the Stooges
Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed
Jamie O'Neal
Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Go`s
Janis Ian
Jann Klose
Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup
Jason Michael Carroll
Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica)
Jason Reeves
Jason Roy of Building 429
Jay Graydon
Jeff Walker of Carcass
Jello Biafra
Jeph Howard of The Used
Jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada
Jess Origliasso of The Veronicas
Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms
Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds
Jimbeau Hinson
Jimmy Jam
Jimmy Webb
JJ Burnel of The Stranglers
Jo Dee Messina
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard
Joe Ely
Joe Grushecky
Joe Jackson
Joe King Carrasco
Joe Rickard of Red
Joel Crouse
Joey + Rory
Joey Burns of Calexico
John Doe of X
John Gallagher of Raven
John Garcia (ex-Kyuss)
John Lee Hooker
John Oates
John Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls
John Waite
John Wheeler of Hayseed Dixie
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde
Johnny Winter
Jon Anderson of Yes
Jon Foreman of Switchfoot
Jon Oliva of Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Jon Tiven
Josh Kelley
Josh Shilling
Josh Thompson
Judas Priest
Julian Lennon
Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues
Kasim Sulton (Utopia, Meat Loaf)
Keith Morris of Black Flag and OFF!
Keith Reid of Procol Harum
Kelvin Swaby of The Heavy
Ken Block of Sister Hazel
Kenneth Nixon of Framing Hanley
Kenny Vance
Kerry Livgren of Kansas
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
Kip Winger
Kirk Franklin
Kristian Bush of Sugarland
Kristine W
Kyle Nicolaides of Beware of Darkness
Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust
Larry Burnett of Firefall
Larry Wiegand of Crow
Laura Bell Bundy
Lecrae
Lee Ranaldo
Les Claypool
Leslie West of Mountain
Lindi Ortega
Lisa Loeb
Lita Ford
Little Big Town
Lori McKenna
Loudon Wainwright III
Louie Perez of Los Lobos
Lukas Nelson
Mac Powell of Third Day
Marc Roberge of O.A.R. (Of A Revolution)
Marcy Playground
Maria Muldaur
Maria Neckam
Mark Arm of Mudhoney
Marshall Crenshaw
Martin Gordon
Martin Page
Martin Smith of Delirous?
Martyn Ware of Heaven 17
Marvin Etzioni of Lone Justice
Mary Gauthier
Mat Kearney
Matisyahu
Matt Pike of High On Fire
Matt Pryor of Get Up Kids
Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon
Matt Sorum
Matt Thiessen of Relient K
Matthew West
Max Cavalera of Soulfly (ex-Sepultura)
Meshell Ndegeocello
Mia Doi Todd
Michael Bolton
Michael Franti
Michael Gilbert of Flotsam and Jetsam
Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root
Michael Schenker
Michael Sweet of Stryper
Michael W. Smith
Mick Jones of Foreigner
Mike Campbell
Mike Donehey of Tenth Avenue North
Mike Love of The Beach Boys
Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies
Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater
Miles Doughty of Slightly Stoopid
Millie Jackson
Mitch Myers about Shel Silverstein
Mitts of Madball
Mountain Heart
Neil Fallon of Clutch
Neil Giraldo
Nick Van Eede from Cutting Crew
Nick Waterhouse
Nick Wheeler of The All-American Rejects
Nina Persson of The Cardigans
Nona Hendryx
Oliver Leiber
Our Lady Peace
Ozomatli
Pam Tillis
Pat Alger ("The Thunder Rolls", "Unanswered Prayers")
Paul Dean of Loverboy
Paul Evans
Paul Williams
Pegi Young
Penny Ford of Snap!
Pete Anderson
Peter Lord
Petula Clark
Phil Hurtt ("I'll Be Around")
Philip Cody
Queensr├┐che founder Geoff Tate
Radney Foster
Raghav
Ralph Casale - Session Pro
Randy Goodrum (Oh Sherrie)
Randy Houser
Randy Montana
Randy Newman
Randy Sharp (From Glen Campbell to Edgar Winter)
Randy Stonehill
Rebecca St. James
Reverend Horton Heat
Rhonda Vincent
Richard Hell
Richard Marx
Richard Patrick of Filter
Richie McDonald of Lonestar
Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)
Rick Finch
Rick Springfield
Rick Wartell of Trouble
Rik Emmett of Triumph
Robert Ellis
Roger Clyne
Rosanne Cash
Rupert Hine
Ryan Star
Sam Phillips
Sandy Chapin
Sarah Brightman
Scorpions Rudolf Schenker
Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders
Scott Jason of Thriving Ivory
Scott Stapp
Scotty Emerick (Beer For My Horses)
Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities
Serena Ryder
Seth Swirsky
Shane Volk of One Bad Son
Shaun Morgan of Seether
Shawn Smith of Brad
Shelby Lynne
Skip Ewing ("Love, Me," "The Gospel According To Luke")
Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D.
Speech of Arrested Development
Spooner Oldham
Squeeze: Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford
Stan Ridgway
Steel Magnolia
Stephen Christian of Anberlin
Steve "Zetro" Souza of Exodus and Hatriot
Steve Azar
Steve Hindalong of The Choir
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith
Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai
Sugarland
Sum 41
Sunny Sweeney
Supertramp founder Roger Hodgson
Tanita Tikaram
Taylor Dayne
Terry Cashman
Terry Jacks ("Seasons in the Sun")
Terry Taylor of Daniel Amos and Lost Dogs
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
The Dandy Warhols
The Fratellis
The Limousines
They Might Be Giants
Thomas Dolby
Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs
Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles
Tina Shafer
Tobin Esperance of Papa Roach
Toby Lightman
Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down and 7dayBinge
Tom Gabel of Against Me!
Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers
Tom Keifer of Cinderella
Tommy James
Tommy Lee James ("She's My Kind Of Rain")
Toni Wine
Tonio K
Tony Hiller and Brotherhood of Man
Tony Joe White
Travis Stever of Coheed and Cambria
Trent Wagler of The Steel Wheels
Udo Dirkschneider (UDO, ex-Accept)
Van Dyke Parks
Vanessa Carlton
Ville Valo of HIM
Vince Clarke
Vince Gill
Vinny May of Kodaline
Vonda Shepard
Wayne Hussey of The Mission
Wayne Swinny of Saliva
Wednesday 13
Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit and Black Light Burns
Will Jennings
Yael Naim
Yoko Ono
Zac Hanson
Zakk Wylde
ARCHIVES (Show)
Other Songfacts Blogs
Songwriter Interviews
Song Writing
Music Quiz
Fact or Fiction
They're Playing My Song