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With its irresistible beat, boisterous emotions and bursts of exuberant scat singing, “Stompa” is pure joy — and the perfect way to get to know the expansive talents of Serena Ryder.
“It’s about how magic music is,” the Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter says of the song. “How music is one of the most powerful medicines in the world. That’s what I want to sing about, how powerful music is in itself. It can take you to a whole other place, shoot you out of your body and into your heart. I wanted something that would make you move, forget your lousy day, forget your awful job or car or disease. Music can do that. I forget that sometimes, even though I’m a musician. You know, it’s that simple!”
The first single and first song recorded for Ryder’s upcoming album Harmony, “Stompa” is infused with the creative rush Ryder felt in making the music. Recorded at the Los Angeles home studio of producer-composer Jerrod Bettis, the song grew naturally and quickly from a simple riff into this full-blown declaration of a young artist finding new levels of expression. And the whole thing took three hours, start to finish — a pace maintained the rest of the way, with the entire album completed in just a few weeks.
That’s all the more remarkable as it came after Ryder, winner of the Juno Best New Artist honors, had written 60 songs for the album — and then decided to throw them all out. It allowed her a fresh start, to embrace her full musical self. Sure, she’d gained grass-roots acclaim as a guitar-strumming singer-songwriter, but she had started out singing along to her mom’s Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald records when she was still a pre-schooler in tiny Millbrook, Ontario (pop. 2000). Working with both Bettis and producer Jon Levine, in Los Angeles and in her backyard studio at home in Toronto, Ryder was able to put it all together.
“All those elements come together in this record,” she says. “That’s why it’s called Harmony. Harmony is being able to have a billion things happen at once. As long as they’re in harmony, it’s all good. You don’t have to think about yourself or deny yourself.”