By: Megan Mattice
The lights dim, music starts to play and a sold out crowd goes wild as Juno-award winning singer-song writer, Serena Ryder steps on stage with an electric guitar at the ready.
“How’s it goin’ Belleville!” yells the platinum selling Canadian artist as she starts her set with new song, ‘What I Wouldn’t Do’.
Released last November, Ryder’s album Harmony has pushed her into a new musical direction she never thought she’d be going.
“I’ve always done a bunch of different styles of music, but it was for fun. I always did my singer-song writer stuff as ‘Serena Ryder’, and I really wanted to stay true to that all of the time,” says Ryder in an interview after the concert.
After working with a bunch of different artists, such as the Great Lake Swimmers, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Slips and the High Fives, etc, and experimenting with them on their records, Ryder decided it was time for her to do some experimenting of her own.
“When I actually started writing and recording the record, any fear that I had about altering my sound was gone,” says Ryder.
Ryder worked with two producers on this album, emmy/grammy nominated producer Jerrod Bettis and Jon Levine, who play most of the instruments.
“By recording a lot of Harmony at my home studio cottage, the essence of the songs were able to properly flourish.”
A true Serena Ryder fan will take one listen Stompa, to her first single off the record, and notice the direction she took this time around has changed.
Not only is the song a theme of empowerment, but it is also a reminder of who Ryder believes she is as a person.
“I was hit pretty hard with depression. Like, hard. Saying I couldn’t get out of bed was an understatement. I didn’t want to get out of bed.”
What about her music?
“It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered,” explained Ryder.
While going through her clinical depression, Ryder stayed at her manager’s house.
“It got to the point where, not only did I get sick of myself, but everyone around me did as well. That’s when I knew I had to fight.”
Ryder’s way of fighting back was through her new album Harmony, and being true to her music, even if that meant following a different sound.
“This time, the more instruments the better. That’s why I worked with the producers I did. A new look on life means a new sound in music. It just happens that way.”
Incredibly proud of her little gem, Ryder took to the road, spreading Harmony’s sound of freedom and empowerment.
Ryder said she doesn’t see herself as a role model for people suffering rom depression.
“I’m not. My story is successful for many more reasons. It doesn’t define me. When people look to me as inspirational, I’d ask them to turn to my music.
“Depression is a rough time. I think anyone going through it, or who has gone through it, knows that it’s not the best defining moment. The real defining moment is when you come out the other side, stronger than you once were.”
Throughout her show at Belleville’s Empire Theatre, Ryder was a ray of sunshine.
With commanding stage presence, her performance was filled with lyrics from her dark past and a promise of a better future.
“Life goes on. That’s a promise. It’s not easy. But nothing in life that matters is ever easy.”