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Author: "Kate B"

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It’s quite the feather in your cap when the Boss asks you to cover one of his songs and then features your performance on his Website. But Serena Ryder is no stranger to accolades. Already a Juno-winning, Gold-certified sensation in Canada, the soulful singer-songwriter has made waves here in the U.S. with her major label debut, “is it o.k.” We caught up with her on tour, and threw her the same questions we recently asked Chad Wolf. Here’s how she responded:

Best show so far?
Washington D.C., 9:30 Club … perfect day, perfect food, perfect venue, amazing crew, magic audience—couldn’t think to change a thing.

One thing you have to have on the road?
I need to have Nag Champa … it helps me bring an element of home to my surroundings and it smells damn good.

If you’re playing DJ on the bus, what do you put on?
Midlake, Springsteen, Bat For Lashes, Metric, Great Lake Swimmers, Alexi Murdoch, Tegan and Sara, Tom Petty, XTC.

Moment you look forward to the most at each show?
Every show is different. When the show sucks, I can’t wait ’til it’s over and when it rocks, I want to stay forever. I don’t know that I’ve ever looked forward to how my belly feels before I get onstage. I still get butterflies … I prefer butterflies on the outside of me.

Current favorite song to play live?
Depending on whether I’m solo or not, right now I’m digging on “What I Wanna Know.” It helps me connect with sexuality and anger.

Favorite way to kill time on the road?
When we’re stationary I LOVE going to antique stores, second-hand shops. I love walking around and falling into the old stories that live inside the knick-knacks. I was in Northern Ontario a few months ago and I almost missed my sound check because I spent two hours in an antique shop daydreaming. I bought 3 umbrellas —yes, 3 umbrellas.

Any show you’re especially looking forward to?

I’m really looking forward to Basillaca in Minneapolis. The Jayhawks are reuniting for the first time! I’m playing right before them. I’m opening for the Jayhawks! Awesome!

Check out more about Serena Ryder here. Like what you hear? Then listen to these similar artists on OurStage:


os_howto_061009The advent of the digital age made a lot of things easier for musicians (i.e. recording, distributing and promoting material). But there are still a couple of areas that require some good,  ol’ fashioned elbow grease. Like, say, building an online fanbase.

Since there’s no magical application that can comb through cyberspace to locate the ideal fans for you (though some 13-year-old computer genius is probably working on it as we speak), you’re going to have to dedicate some time to crafting the art of making friends. But before you go crazy sending out friend requests, we have a couple of suggestions …

•    Don’t spread yourself too thin. There are countless social networking sites out there, and you may be tempted to create as many profiles as humaly possible. Remember, you have to update your profile with news, tour dates, MP3s, videos and the like on a continual basis. We recommend you limit yourself to three or four sites that you know you can maintain.

•    Find common ground. The best way to build your fanbase is to reach out to the friends and fans of similar-sounding musicians. Our advice: be practical, not aspirational.  You may aspire to draw all of U2’s fans but chances are good that these followers won’t be interested in you if your sound is more like Miley Cyrus.  So start with artists within your genre who share the same influences, are well-established or garnering buzz. In other words, focus on someone you could feasibly open for without getting booed off the stage by their fans.

•    Don’t sound spammy. Once you’ve done your research and located fans who you truly believe would appreciate your music, send them a friend/fan request accompanied by either a personal email or comment on their profile. Be sincere and conversational. Write something like “Hey, I noticed you’re into Mary J. You’d probably like my music too. Give it a listen when you have a second and tell me what you think,” but make sure you use your own voice. The more you sound like you’re speaking to each fan one-on-one, the better the chances you’ll get a positive response.

•    Communicate. Every fan you make is a new relationship and, just like with friends or family members, fans require attention and communication. This means updating your profile with news and blog posts as well as uploading new songs, videos and photos are absolute necessities.  But the single most important thing you can do is respond to your fans when they send you a message or comment. It’s a small investment of your time that will— not to freak you out— take your “relationship” to the next level.

Look, until Steve Jobs or Bill Gates invents bionic fans that can be programmed and set to autopilot, you’re just going to have to settle for the human variety. Yes, they are a little more high maintenance, but trust us, they probably sound a lot better screaming the lyrics to your songs.




What do you do when you fall in love with a girl online, only to find out after months of phone calls and IMs that she’s stolen someone else’s identity? If you’re Jakob Johnson, you turn to the redemptive powers of pop. Johnson, writing under the moniker The Record Life, spins heartache into winsome pop confection. In fact, his songs are so upbeat it’s easy to forget you’re singing along to lyrics about burning your ex’s love letters.

Last year Johnson flew out to L.A. for a meeting with a record label, and after missing his flight back to Arizona, decided to stay on permanently and focus on his songwriting. The results of his efforts can be heard on The Souldier EP, The Record Life’s first official release. Meaty, keyboard-driven melodies call to mind Ben Folds, but Johnson’s earnest vocal stylings and whimsical arrangements make The Record Life also reminiscent of Train —if Train were fronted by a much cooler indie kid … with better hair.

Johnson’s got his badge in heartbreak —now it remains to be seen if he can continue to convert experience into powerful pop singles.

We think this souldier’s up for the job.




Teenagers these days. When they’re not singing their hearts out in church, they’re off writing cautionary tales about teen pregnancy and girls with low self-esteem.

OK, so The Springs Band aren’t your average adolescents. Corn-fed and God-fearing, the group has already accomplished more than similar acts twice their age: A deal with CFC Nashville, an award for “Youth Artist of the Year” from ICM and shows alongside the likes of Ricky Skaggs and Sara Evans. Laugh if you will, but these teens are on a mission.

Prolific purveyors of tear-jerking country balladry, The Spring Band delivers a canon of stories sure to give you the sniffles – whether its bringing Cheerios to a family in need, or sharing quality time with their mamas.  But the band truly excels when they kick piety to the side and act their age. The infectiously upbeat “Save The Drama For Your Mama” showcases some surprisingly scathing wit: “If I wanted to see a grown man cry, I’d watch Dr. Phil.”

Stick that in your Cheerios, emo boys.



os_howto_060309_cIn the music industry, artists don’t usually get a second chance to make a first impressions. Record labels, talent buyers, publicists and critics are inundated with inquiries from bands every day so you better bring your A-game if you want to stand out. This is where the EPK (Electronic Press Kit) comes in to play.

What is an electronic press kit? Think of it as your sales presentation, your two-minute elevator speech. Basically, the kit should introduce yourself and your music in an engaging, concise way while also piquing the intended audience’s interest so they want to learn more about you as an artist. By combining video, audio and photography, you can create a high-impact impression of who you are and what your music is all about.  Click through to see what Big Bang TVBreaking Laces and Kate Tucker & The Sons of Sweden all have in common and get expert advice on everything you need to build your own knockout EPK:




The Clavinet is an electrophonic keyboard originally designed to play early European folk music – so using it to approximate the full-throttled yowl of an electric guitar is an ambitious task, to say the least. But then, Crash Kings have never been a band to shy away from a challenge. Boston brothers Tony and Mike Beliveau (bass, keyboards) moved out to L.A. and recruited drummer Jason Morris to round out their experiment. The result – hook-laden riffs, protean rhythms and unapologetically catchy melodies. The Clavinet is outfitted with a whammy bar and run through a distortion pedal, so heavy rock fiends will never miss the guitar.

Crash Kings’ debut for Custard/Universal – produced by indie veteran Dave Sardy – is fresh on the shelves. We suggest you make haste and add some clavinet rock to your collection.




The art of rap is a lot like the science of perfume. There’s the top note an initial punch to your senses that gives you your first impression. Then there’s the base note the depth of character that is perceived after the top note fades away. If your base note isn’t quality, then whatever you’re laying on top is pointless.

Melo Tha Truth has mixed up a winning concoction for hip-hop fans. He uses the usual top notes to grab your attention name-checking his clothes, his sexual prowess and his lyrical swerve. But underneath all that swagger you get real chops. “Akademiks,” a shout-out to Melo’s favorite clothing line, is a stripped-back track built on the rapper’s dexterous flow over a looping Middle Eastern line. “I’m That Shit” gets more aggressive, showcasing an epic beat that would do Kanye and Jay-Z proud. Melo’s hunger to make it past hip-hop’s velvet ropes is acute. “I’m ahead of my time like daylight savings / I belong in the sky, I’m a star in the making.”

Let’s hope the industry picks up on his scent.




If you don’t know Carolina Liar by sight, you certainly know them by sound. The L.A. rock outfit’s smash hit, “Show Me What I’m Looking For,” has commandeered the airwaves thanks to features on MTV’s The Hills, 90210 and a new television ad from We checked in with frontman Chad Wolf to get a glimpse of  life as a newfound touring rock star.

Best show so far?
Honestly each show is a pretty good time but right now the Ellen show was one of our biggest moments.

One thing you have to have on the road?
I carry a copy of the book “Immortal Man” with me everywhere I go. It just reminds me to create the world I want to live in.

If you’re the DJ on the tour bus, what are you playing?
Right now a lot of Thin Lizzy, Lady Gaga, Phoenix, some World Party maybe some Django.

Moment you look forward to the most at each show?
I generally find that about three songs in, everything starts to get really entertaining.

Current favorite song to play live?
I still like playing “I’m Not Over” – it gets rowdy.

Favorite way to kill time on the road?
Reading. I love to read.

Any show you’re especially looking forward to?
There are some big summer festivals that are coming up that should really be fun. We might play V Fest in Europe. It could be cool.

For more on Carolina Liar, check them out at

Like what you hear? Then listen to these similar artists on OurStage:


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