ELLE (Canada) - - Radar -

Want to do a lit­tle sim­ple ad­di­tion? No? Well, if you want to un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing on Ser­ena Ryder’s forth­com­ing al­bum (out some­time this fall), Utopia, you’re go­ing to have to.

“Can you do math? I can’t!” says the Cana­dian folk rocker when asked about “Got Your Num­ber,” the al­bum’s lead sin­gle. “But I do know that if you do the nu­merol­ogy of the phone num­ber from that song—534 6607—you’ll be able to tell me what it means.” (We were go­ing with it being a glee­ful take­down of a cheat­ing ex, but, when pressed, Ryder shares that it amounts to “the num­ber of the an­gels.”)

That kind of oblique, slightly mys­te­ri­ous re­sponse is typ­i­cal of a con­ver­sa­tion with Ryder, the mind and mu­sic maker be­hind 2012’s “Stompa,” a hand-clap­per that topped charts world­wide, and who won Best New Artist of the Year at the Juno Awards in 2008. This lat­est al­bum was born out of what Ryder de­scribes as “dark, dark times.” “This al­bum came out of a mo­ment of con­fu­sion—where I didn’t know my head from my ass,” she says. “And then I tried to do a hand­stand and I was like, ‘Oh, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter, does it? My head and my ass are both still there, whether I’m up­side down or not.’” And, no, that’s not a metaphor­i­cal hand­stand. She ac­tu­ally did one. All of that in­ver­sion cre­ated an al­bum with what the 33-year-old On­tario na­tive calls “a dark side, a grey side and a white side.” It’s built on songs like “Fire Es­cape,” which she says is about “fall­ing in love with­out a para­chute, being on the edge of some­thing that you feel is un­safe,” writ­ten in about three hours one day in Los An­ge­les, where she lives half the year. (She spends the rest in Toronto.)

Ryder par­tic­u­larly loves the paean to pa­tience “I Can Watch, I Can Wait.” “It’s a beau­ti­ful virtue that I’m still learn­ing,” she says. “When I wrote the song, I was like, ‘Fuck, do you want to take me to that dark place again? Okay, let’s go and shine some light on it.’”

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