Set to her earnest and powerful vocals, Serena Ryder's music video for "Famous (Feat. Simon Ward of The Strumbellas)" is not predictable or trite, but a genuine look at what fame means in the modern world and how social media has changed our approach to success.
While the lyrics itself tell a cautionary tale — of how fame can infiltrate relationships — the video examines the phenomenon through the eyes of two sisters, Shavone and Sharone Nora, for whom the pursuit of fame is equivalent to survival. After a rough upbringing, the two young women go to castings in search of success and crucial financial stability; their day-to-day struggles are juxtaposed with shots of Ryder performing the song. The video manages to convey how layered this conversation around social media and visibility really is, and what it means to be famous in 2018.
We spoke to the Canadian singer — who's toured with Kanye West, HAIM, and Tegan & Sara — about the inspiration behind "Famous," the large body of work she's already put out into the world, and what fame has meant to her over the years.
How did you get started in music?
I’ve been involved in music before I can remember. I got up onstage at my sister-in-law's wedding and just started singing on the microphone of the house band. I was born comfortable onstage.
Who are the artists who made you decide to become a musician?
Some pretty amazing voices I heard growing up are the ones who had the biggest impact on me. Such greats like Tracy Chapman, Ben Harper, Roger Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nina Simone.
How would you describe your style as an artist?
Conversational and reminiscent.
What does fame mean to you?
It’s a glass castle constantly on the verge of breaking. Or just a pile of broken glass.
What was your inspiration for this video?
It was the director Eric Maldin's inspiration. I read it and loved it. It just spoke more about the true essence of the song than I had imagined.
What do you think the video communicates that isn’t said in the song?
Well, I would hope that the message that comes across in addition to it being an uplifting story, is that people aspire to spend less time looking at their devices and more time connecting on a human level to each other.
Who are the women in the video? How did they come to be a part of the
These beautiful women came to us by way of Eric. He had heard their story and wanted it to be a part of this video as a lot of what the song is about, speaks true to their lives.
What’s next for you?
I'm going to be touring this summer and driving across America hitting up some amazing cities along the way. I'm looking forward to getting my feet back on US soil and connecting with some folks I haven't seen in a few years.
Watch the music video below!