Everything’s okay for Serena Ryder

Tara Chislett – The Aquinian

From supporting act to headliner, Ryder brings new show to Fredericton

Serena Ryder (Atlantics Records)
Serena Ryder (Atlantics Records)

Serena Ryder has accomplished a lot in the last few years.

Since opening for Hawksley Workman in 2003, the Millbrook, ON, native has gone on to tour across Canada, the United States and internationally in Europe and Australia. With four full-length albums —three on major labels — and two Juno awards under her belt, Ryder will be stopping at the Playhouse on Nov 29.

But while album releases and award wins are exciting for any artist, the highlight for Ryder so far was having one of her songs picked for Music Monday, a program geared toward promoting music awareness in schools.

“There were millions of kids singing my song at the very same time,” she said. “I was on tour in the states and I was watching the Canadian national news, bawling my eyes out in the back of the van.”

If it seems like a strange highlight, it shouldn’t. At 25, Ryder’s wisdom comes across in songwriting and in conversation. Instead of talking about her albums in detail, she’s more interested in talking about the honesty of children and the importance of being able to relate with other people.

Being interested in, and inspired by, people is something Ryder thinks is important, especially in the music industry.

“A lot of artists can be very self-contained,” she said. “But I just find everybody to be such a mirror, you know? To me, the one thing that makes me feel like my job is a blessing is when you can relate so wholeheartedly to someone else and feel like you’re not alone in the world.”

The search for answers to life’s questions, recognizing and exploring the darker side of love and the journey toward understanding self-worth are a few of the themes Ryder speaks to in her latest release, “Is It O.K.?”

Inspired by Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and the Beatles, Ryder doesn’t shy away from tough subjects, approaching writing the only way she says she knows how to: honestly and with the goal of connecting with others always on her mind.

“I find that as humans, we’re constantly relating to people in our happiness and not relating to people in our sadness,” she said. “If we’re happy … we’re very vocal about it and then we feel like other people can relate to us. But then as soon as we have the opposite feeling … we feel like we’re absolutely alone in the world and we have nothing to relate to other people with. Which is hilarious because we all kind of go through a lot of the same emotions.”

“For me, it’s sort of coming to that place where you can have a conversation with someone and realize that there’s no sense in being on an island and it’s all about the bridges you build with other people that help you become a family. All the things you realize, all the secrets that you keep, all the things you hold inside are pretty much the things you should really let out. That’s my goal in music.”

Serena Ryder will be at the Playhouse on Nov 29 at 8 PM. Tickets are available at the box office.

(edited on Nov 23 to correct the date of the show)