Hit maker Ry­der ready­ing some new tunes

Another record likely to fol­low tour for Utopia al­bum

Vancouver Sun - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART DERDEYN sderdeyn@post­media.com twit­ter.com/stu­art­derdeyn

Five years be­tween al­bums is a long time. On­tario artist Ser­ena Ry­der knows that. But fol­low­ing up 2012’s mas­sively suc­cess­ful Har­mony was a daunt­ing task.

The al­bum yielded the triple­plat­inum (and count­ing) sin­gle Stompa, as well its ra­dio sta­ple fol­lowup What I Wouldn’t Do. Both songs are still in heavy ro­ta­tion.

Both the lead­off hy­per-hooky Got Your Num­ber — call it Ry­der’s re­sponse to the heel and hand­clap El­lie King hit Ex’s and Oh’s — and the ti­tle track to her new 17-song al­bum Utopia are as­sured places in the pro­gram­mer’s per­ma­nent playlist too.

She’s pretty pumped about tak­ing the new ma­te­rial on the road and pre­sent­ing both Ser­ena Ry­der, the acous­tic-based singer/song­writer and her more re­cent pop star band­leader style.

“It’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent thing this time around, with a lot of just me play­ing gui­tar vibe, which is go­ing to be cool,” said Ry­der.

“And I have a new drum­mer fill­ing in for the first three shows who was my first drum­mer ever when I be­gan in my teens, and then Adrian Bent takes over, who mostly plays with Drake. He’s so badass, he’s in­sane.”

Rock­ing out at the front is Ry­der, with her Gib­son Fly­ing V gui­tar, no less. She loves to play the uniquelysh­aped axe made fa­mous by Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel.

“It’s so easy, so nat­u­ral to play, but I have weird taste in gui­tars,” Ry­der said.

“My other one is the Sil­ver­tone from the 1950s from Sears that came with a gui­tar case that had a built-in speaker. It’s very spe­cial to me, as it was a gift from the late Wil­lie P. Ben­nett.”

Ry­der, 34, used to hang out with Ben­nett when she was start­ing out as her late un­cle, mu­si­cian Bob Car­pen­ter, and Ben­nett were tight.

Since her 20s, the singer/song­writer’s evolv­ing sound has showcased lit­er­ate lyrics and a real knack with a melody. That some of this was ab­sorbed through ex­po­sure to some of the coun­try’s un­sung greats is some­thing she is thank­ful for.

Her sound has cer­tainly evolved over the course of her six stu­dio al­bums. It is al­most like there is an EDM/rock record try­ing to get into the grooves. Not so, she says.

“I know, where is this go­ing to go next, right?” she said. “I get in­spired by big-arse beats to write the melodies and, de­pend­ing on which Ser­ena is at the fore­front, those songs can come out sound­ing one way or another. Ul­ti­mately I do think it al­ways comes around to where you started and that is me and my gui­tar, which is where I think the next one is go­ing to go

af­ter the Utopia tour cy­cle is done.”

Ry­der is ex­cited to move on, and ad­mits that she has a “moun­tain” of ma­te­rial that didn’t make the last EP and al­bum. She isn’t writ­ing the new record, though. In­stead, she is build­ing a home stu­dio she has wanted to fin­ish for awhile.

“Utopia was largely done on a lap­top and two speak­ers in my kitchen and another per­son’s liv­ing room and, maybe one or two stu­dios in­volved for brief pe­ri­ods,” she said.

“That’s how I’ve al­ways done it, to some de­gree, and (it is) pretty much the norm for most artists now.”

The hard­est part of the cre­ative process with Utopia was se­lect­ing the ma­te­rial. As some­one who has gone through well-doc­u­mented bouts of de­pres­sion and the slow­downs that can bring, Ry­der came into this al­bum with moun­tains of songs. So many, she briefly con­sid­ered drop­ping a triple al­bum.

Yet she doesn’t see the songs that didn’t make the fi­nal cut be­ing the body of the next record. While she won’t deny that she could de­velop into an artist who might cut and paste past ideas into new tracks, that isn’t her process at the mo­ment.

“I’m al­ways in­ter­ested in new­ness, in mov­ing for­ward and be­ing ex­cited by it,” she said. “That can in­clude go­ing back­wards to re­learn or un­learn some­thing, but it’s al­ways with the no­tion of a new ap­proach.”

With a lengthy ca­reer for some­one so young, how does she find hav­ing to in­clude fan favourites in her set when she is so hy­per aware of the next step ahead?

“The sin­gles that are the ones that peo­ple re­ally like are usu­ally the re­ally good songs so I have no prob­lem with play­ing them re­peat­edly be­cause I like them and I love the crowd re­sponse,” Ry­der says.

“I’m just so glad I didn’t write Bar­bie Girl. It’s a great song, but there is prob­a­bly a cer­tain pe­riod of time and place with a song like that you might not keep feel­ing.”

Ry­der says a great song is like a mantra and if you nail it right, you are as­cend­ing.

The singer feels re­ally great about her voice right now. A long­time smoker, she re­cently quit and has al­ready started to dis­cover some added vo­cal range.

Ex­pect that new-found cre­ative edge to work its way into her next record as Ry­der’s ca­reer rolls on.

KAYLE NEIS Ser­ena Ry­der is ex­cited about tak­ing her new ma­te­rial on the road and pre­sent­ing both the acous­tic-based singer/ song­writer’s ear­lier work and her more re­cent pop star band­leader style.

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