A Rock 'n' Roll Style Lesson from A Cool Chick Singer

At the Lucky offices, Serena Ryder is playing us "Oh Timbaland" on her iPod. Lately, Ryder has been into making dance playlists. "It's so good!" she says. "And he uses a sample of Nina Simone's voice, who's one of my favorite singers. She passed away years ago, but she's this unbelievably talented, gorgeous soul of a woman who was a poet."

Well, Serena is pretty talented and gorgeous too, in our opinion. And you should know that we're adding her single "Stompa" (which many of you have heard in a Cadillc ad) to our dance playlists.

The drum-heavy, Grey's Anatomy-featured single is off her upcoming album Harmony—her fourth studio album, set to be realsed on July 16th. Her powerful voice has shades of Adele, Melissa Etheridge, and Alanis Morissette, but is also all her own. Ryder's Canadian compatriats are digging her, too. The Millbrook native (a small town outside of Toronoto) won "Adult Alternative Album of the Year" at the 2013 Junos, Canada's annual music awards. "Stompa" was also nominated alongside Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" and Hedley's "Kiss You Inside Out" for "Single of the Year." 

In true festival spirit, we noticed Ryder not only for her music, but for her fun boho-meets-rock 'n' roll style. This girl knows how to rock fringe and studs. And her go-to summer outfit is a pair of leather shorts with a halter tank. "I like the ones that have collars on them so you can put necklaces under the collars and decorate it that way," she says. Nice.

Read on to learn more about Ryder's music, style, and love of leather.

Lucky: Tell us a little bit about your new album, Harmony.
It's a record that I had the most fun ever making because I did it at home. I did it in my own studio. We converted my garage into a recording studio, which is so awesome. It was the first time that I'd written record that I was able to write the songs the same day I recorded the song. This record is different from any other one because I played around with a lot of different styles of music. I didn't want to just do one kind of thing or one style of music. I wanted to be able to do a whole bunch of different things so, in the future, i could do whatever I wanted. If I decided to make a rock record or a soul record or even one day rap, it wouldn't be that big of a stretch.

What's your personal style like?

I would say its kind of rock and roll, bohemian. It's always kind of been that way. I've always loved rock and roll and, right now, I'm getting a lot of inspiration from Mark Bolan from T. Rex. They're really awesome. A lot of inspiration from dudes, actually, in the '60s and '70s, and how they used to dress is pretty awesome for me. I love leather pants and really cool patterned button up tops and suit jackets and leather jackets and things like that. I also really love bohemian style clothing where it's flowing and free and easy to wear. I love being comfortable.

And what's your stage style like?
I usually take a lot of inspiration from Balmain for my stage clothes. I have a couple stylists that help me out a lot. We'll use silhouettes as inspiration and we'll custom make clothing. I can't really grab stuff from runway because I'm more of a size 10, sometimes 12, so I have to make things for myself a lot of the time that I feel more comfortable in. So a lot of custom made pieces are made from inspiration. I'll go to magazines and cut out pictures and then use them as inspiration.

You wear a lot of jewelry. What kind do you usually go for?
I like jewlery that has a lot of symbols on it. That's why I kind of love Pamela Love stuff. I like things that have organic pieces to them. I love rings that are cast of different rocks and different natural, organic things that are around. I really love brass and copper and things like that, but they turn me green right away and I hate that, so I wear a lot of silver now.

Where do you like to shop?
I don't do much shopping online other than for jewelry, but I love going to secondhand stores. I like finding little places off the beaten path. Value Village can be cool sometimes. Wasteland, I really like a lot. I always find some really amazing stuff in L.A. at Wasteland. I'm pretty much a second-hand shopper myself. I really prefer vintage stuff, absolutely. Then I can add stuff to it, too. I like adding shiny stuff to everything for on stage.

What was the last thing you bought?
It was stuff for the Junos. I bought a bunch of different stuff for the awards show, so we bought like four different outfits. I bought a pair of Helmut Lang stretchy black leather pants. They're so good.

How many pairs of leather pants do you own?
Right now, I own three, but it will probably be a lot more by next year. I just found the love recently.

Has your style evolved since your career started?
Absolutely. I didn't really have much style because I grew up in a really small village, under 1,000 people, in Ontario, so my awareness of style was TV and the people that were around me. I was very much a tomboy. When I started performing, it was at folk festivals, so I really liked big, long flowy dresses. I didn't start plucking my eyebrows until I was like 23. But now I find it a really fun part of what I do. I get to play around with my outfits. It's almost something that I feel like I missed out on when I was a kid. I didn't actually play dress up, but I did always love the idea of costumes, so it's fun for me to be able to play with it now. I think it's definitely evolving, for sure, and has evolved a lot.

What would be a dream future project for you to work on?
Collaborating is one of my favorite things to do—I love singing with people. I would love to sing with Bruno Mars. I think that would be unbelievable. Something that is beautiful is that Rihanna song with Mikky Ekko. That kind of vibe. Something that's really broken down, like a piano. And I'd love to tour with Coldplay.

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