For many musicians, a five-year gap between record releases is rare and is seen as an an extended vacation away from the constant pressures of the industry. For Serena Ryder, the five years between 2012’s Harmony and 2017’s Utopia was far from a vacation.
After touring in support of the former album for three years, Ryder moved to Los Angeles for a break. Only, her art had other plans.
“I was so inspired by L.A. and the history, the people out there,” says Ryder. “I wrote for a good two years and about a hundred songs.”
Utopia and the extended play Electric Love released on the same day, were the results.
As part of her latest tour, Ryder will stop by London Music Hall on Dec. 12. The process of whittling down her new repertoire of songs to an acceptable album length was particularly difficult for the Canadian singer, who initially thought about the possibility of a three-disc album. She also spoke about the importance of a physical release in today’s digital age.
“These days people are just putting out singles or mix tapes; people don’t even make records anymore. I’m kind of old school. I always pictured it coming out of an actual album because it was such a long time [writing].”
This old-school approach speaks to Ryder’s sensibilities. Some of her main influences include Nina Simone, Etta James, The Beatles and Paul Simon’s Graceland. Despite the deluge of new music, she always returns to the music of her youth.
She describes Utopia as a record about “having love in your life and not having love in your life."
For her London show, Ryder speaks highly of the city and its musical tastes.
“I think people in London have a really great sense of music; a lot of people stop through here.”
She also praises her openers, Calgary-bred indie folk group Rueben and the Dark. Having them on the road adds a family feel to the tour.
The aftermath of her current tour won’t leave Ryder in the same state of exhaustion as the previous one. In January she will begin work on a Christmas album with legendary producer Bob Ezrin, who was behind Pink Floyd’s The Wall, among many other records. The Christmas album also draws from her typical influences in jazz like Simone and Ella Fitzgerald. In February, she's going on a three-week tour before starting work on a proper followup to Utopia.
After a five-year gap, Ryder shows no signs of slowing down. She’s also in the midst of building a recording studio in downtown Toronto.
Serena Ryder’s show will take place at the London Music Hall on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. You can purchase tickets here. The show is for all ages.