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On The Road Again: An interview with Serena Ryder

April 28th, 2009
Author: Schwaz

serena01 t On The Road Again: An interview with Serena RyderEditors Note: Canadian-born Serena Ryder met up with us on a rainy and windy Monday evening before her show at the Hard Rock Café in downtown Minneapolis. The singer starlet recently signed with Atlantic Records, and this performance marked the start of her new nationwide tour, this time with Paolo Nutini and Eric Hutchinson. We had the pleasure of sitting down with her in her tour bus, which she says, is her “home for the next month.” This interview has been condensed for clarity.

Schwaz: Welcome back to Minneapolis, Serena Ryder!

Serena: (in a melodious response) Hellllo, Everybody! (laughter)
Schwaz: You’ve been on tour in the past, going as far as Europe and Australia, right? What have been some of your favorite moments or memories from your previous tours?

Serena: I think mostly, just the comradery that happens when you’re on the road touring with people. Being able to open up for artists and learning a lot from them. I went to Australia with Steve Earle, I was the opening artist for him, and he kind of took me under his wing and treated me really, really great. Another big, huge, awesome memory for me is when I played this festival out east. One of the people I wanted to marry ever since I was a little baby, was Steven Tyler, (laughter) and I got to play at the same festival as him.  

I saw him on stage, and it was totally surreal, to realize that it’s not so far away, you know? It was pretty amazing.  Another one that stood out was meeting Robert Plant. I had no idea how I would react. Just looking at him, being in the presence of him was just unbelievable. Huge crush. I’m really excited about this round with Paolo, as well. I’ve gotten to know him and his band and even his manager from previous tours, so this is like a reunion, of sorts. Some other great moments are also when you’re touring with your band. There’s all this band speak, or tour lingo that you come up with.  There are all these moments that happen on the road, that are like, your moments and they become inside jokes. You have this whole other language that you end up speaking, and then you realize that when you start speaking it to other people, they don’t have a clue what you’re talking about! (laughter)

Schwaz: Can you give an example? (laughter)

Serena: Well, my band members are really, really skinny.  Like, they’re a bunch of tall, skinny guys. So, we’re always kind of joking about how fat they are. (laughter) So, it’s kind of like “Hey, do you think you could, uh, fit through the door there, Bryn?” Just funny things like that, that go on and on and on. (laughter)

Schwaz: Your voice, off of your latest album Is it o.k reveals a wonderfully wide range. “Sweeping The Ashes” for example, bears some resemblance to Stevie Nicks, while “Little Bit Of Red” has some cool poppy hooks. It seems as if you picked up where artists like Alanis Morissette and Sheryl Crow left off, so to speak. How would you describe some of your influences when you were writing this album?

serena 03 On The Road Again: An interview with Serena Ryder

Photo by Chuck Pittman

Serena: Well, for the most part, my main influences are really just experiencing life, and the many different ways we relate to each other. Most of the time we all seem to feel a little like aliens, I think. Just walking around and thinking, “I’m the only person in the world who feels this way” and “No one could possibly know how I feel” and so on.  We all go through very, very similar things in our lives, and I think that for the most part, people don’t seem to realize that we all connect in that kind of way. I feel very blessed that I have music as an outlet, that I’m able to articulate those kinds of things and put them into songs. You can get your heart broken, just walking down the street, like for example seeing a child being treated badly by their parents, or seeing somebody homeless, or simply getting your heart busted or broken. There was a lot that went on the past couple of years in my life. Lots of touring, lots of traveling, I ended up losing someone very close to me…. I’ve lost many people recently. There were very concentrated, big feelings that were happening to me. A lot of this record is really quite cathartic. Some of the songs may sound like they’re based on male and female relationships, or people relationships, but it’s not necessarily about anything romantic, there are a few songs that are about that, but I think for the most part, that’s the best metaphor to use, in order for people to relate.

Schwaz: Another great song is “Weak In The Knees”, and there is a definitive resemblance to Emmylou Harris here, stylistically. I know you’ve mentioned in past interviews that you admire Emmylou Harris, career-wise. Do you find yourself influenced by her music, as well?

Serena: For me, it’s mainly her career, I mean she’s amazing, but she’s not just about being a solo artist, but also about collaborating. You know, sharing herself, and spreading herself around with other people, to join forces and grow communities…. link other people up. One of my favorite things is to collaborate with other people. That’s what I want to be doing! Even when I’m old and grey I still want to be playing on other people’s records, you know? This because, even though it’s something I do (making music), it’s still kind of this mystery, you know, like “Wow, how did that song happen?”, and “Wow, oh I hear that, can I put that in my album?” It’s inspiring, because it teaches you about your own music, and it brings you to a place you wouldn’t necessarily go yourself.

Schwaz: What’s your dream collaboration?

Serena: Wow, well I would love to sing with Bruce Springsteen. That would be amazing.

Schwaz: How has the transition from being an independent artist to signing on to Atlantic Records been for you, in terms of maintaining your individual style?

Serena: I feel like it’s made my family so much bigger. Major labels in general, have kind of a bad rep in a lot of people’s minds, like especially in the indie crowd. The thing is, you’re only as strong as you are, and you only say and do what you need to say and do. However, when it comes to being involved with Atlantic, it’s really been the best thing that has happened to me in my career. I feel like I’ve had so much time to build it up myself, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. The thing with Atlantic also, is that they really, really love music, and they are such huge music fans!  They also really work hard for the projects that they believe in. Which has been wonderful for me.

Schwaz: What kind of animal would you be and why?

Serena: Oh, definitely a bird so I can fly like an eagle.  A little Steve Miller action. (laughter)

serena eagle 01 On The Road Again: An interview with Serena Ryder

Photo by Chuck Pittman

Schwaz: You’re coming back to Minneapolis, on May 13th and playing at the Varsity, right?

Serena: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it!

Schwaz: We’ll see you there. Thank you for sitting down with us, and good luck on your tour!

Serena: Thank you too!


Little Bit Of Red by: Serena Ryder



Tour Dates

April 28 2009 7:00P
The Avalon Murray, Utah
April 29 2009 7:00P
Soiled Dove Denver, Colorado
May 1 2009 8:00P
Majestic Theater Madision, Wisconsin
May 2 2009 7:00P
Hard Rock Cafe Detroit, Michigan
May 3 2009 8:00P
Green Street Fair Plymouth, Michigan
May 4 2009 8:00P
Club Cafe Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
May 5 2009 8:00P
World Cafe Live (WXPN Studios) w/Eric Hutchinson Philadelphia,, Pennsylvania
May 6 2009 8:00P
9:30 Club w/Eric Hutchinson Washington, Washington DC
May 7 2009 8:00P
Highline Ballroom w/Eric Hutchinson New York, New York
May 8 2009 8:00P
The Roxy w/Eric Hutchinson Boston, Massachusetts
May 9 2009 8:00P
Pearl Street w/Eric Hutchinson Northampton, Massachusetts
May 11 2009 8:00P
Bluebird Nightclub w/Eric Hutchinson Bloomington, Indiana
May 12 2009 7:00P
The Hard Rock Cafe Indianapolis, Indiana
May 13 2009 8:00P
Varsity Theater w/Eric Hutchinson Minneapolis, Minnesota
May 15 2009 8:00P
Lexington Music Theatre w/Eric Hutchinson Lexington, Michigan
May 18 2009 8:00P
One Trick Pony w/Eric Hutchinson Grand Rapids, Michigan
May 19 2009 8:00P
Orpheum w/Eric Hutchinson Tampa, Florida
May 20 2009 8:00P
The Social w/Eric Hutchinson Orlando, Florida
May 22 2009 8:00P
Vinyl At Center Stage w/Eric Hutchinson Atlanta, Georgia
May 23 2009 8:00P
Recher Theatre w/Eric Hutchinson Towson, Maryland
May 27 2009 8:00P
The Stephen Talkhouse Amagansett, New York
June 6 2009 8:00P
Virginia Highland Summerfest Atlanta, Georgia
June 20 2009 8:00P
River Place Park, Saugeen Summer Nights Ayton, Ontario
July 8 2009 8:00P
Stockey Centre, Parry Sound Parry Sound, Ontario
July 9 2009 8:00P
Algonquin Theatre, Huntsville Festival of the Arts Huntsville, Ontario
July 11 2009 8:00P
Winnipeg Folk Festival Winnipeg, Manitoba
July 12 2009 8:00P
Winnipeg Folk Festival Winnipeg, Manitoba
July 23 2009 8:00P
Elora Festival Elora
July 25 2009 8:00P
Del Crary Park, Peterborough Festival of Lights Peterborough, Ontario
July 26 2009 8:00P
Wiggins Park, XPoNential Music Festival Camden, New Jersey
August 14 2009 8:00P
Salmon Arm Fairgrounds Salmon Arm, British Columbia      

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posted April 28th, 2009 at 3:18 pm Interviews, Music News, Reviews ,

  1. May 3rd, 2009 at 10:09 | #1

    This was a great interview! I wish I might have met Serena, she seems dynamite.

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