By Alex Teitz
Holly Rankin is a Sydney artist who performs under the name Jack River. Last year she released her first EP Highway Songs No. 2. She has a psychedelic tint to her music. We interviewed her earlier this year about both her EP and the Sydney music scene. She recently announced an all women tour called Electric Lady. In order to properly preview that, we are finally publishing the interview. For info visit http://www.jackrivermusic.com & http://www.keepsydneyopen.com/
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
HR: I have written almost everyday since I was 12, words and thoughts and dreams. Loads of melodies flow in and out of my head and I’ve learnt to record the ones that stick around, but usually a song is just born instantly from an overwhelming feeling.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Highway Songs No 2?
HR: Probably the waiting to get it out into the world, it is full of songs that were tempered through some really challenging times in my life & to release them is to release those times & to get to stand back and let them wander through the world.
FEMMUSIC: I see you worked with both John Castle & Xavier Dunn but Highway Songs No 2 was both mixed and produced by you. What were the challenges in doing that? Why did you choose to do it that way?
HR: In the beginning worked with John and Xavier separately on different tracks on the EP then took them between the two producers seeking their expertise on each track. John is brilliant at recording live instruments and Xav is an electronic genius, I am the overseer / vision kid /writer & it felt nice to keep control of the project in the space between these two amazing producers. I directed the overall production of each track, and layed down each idea and mix note then took the tracks home, mulled on them, recorded more & mixed the songs with Ben Allen, John and Xav.
FEMMUSIC: Why did you sign with I Oh You? What benefits do you have signing with a label?
HR: I Oh You are my favourite label in Australia and are continually releasing records that feel real and like they haven’t been tampered with. In 2017 that’s a big call (not bending your artists toward a more commercial vein) so when Johann said he loved the tracks it was very obvious to me which label I should sign with. I have a pretty complete vision of Jack River & Johann and his team are totally supportive of that – def made the right decision. The benefits of having a label differ from label to label – but for me it’s having a team that cover production and distribution costs, publicity, creative knowledge and readymade credibility & an advance on future recorded music earnings to cover recording costs. On another level it’s just really rad to have a team that is wholly invested in what you do.
FEMMUSIC: What effect have Sydney’s Lock Out Laws had on the music scene?
HR: The lock our laws have caused the closure of so many of Sydney’s venues of all sizes. Its having negative effect on the creativity of what should be one the worlds best cities. Its becoming harder and harder for new bands to practice their craft. It can only have a negative effect on all parts of the industry if the lockouts continue the way they are.
FEMMUSIC: I see there was a compromise recently to extend the closings until 2am. Does this make a difference? What additional changes need to be made?
HR: I think that the lock out laws suck in general. The nannying of a city can never result in it flourishing culturally. CultUral and economic freedom shouldn’t be a challenge in a progressive city like Sydney. It makes for a venue culture of ‘let’s not even try..’. I spend a fair bit of time in NY where thousands of musicians have a job every night & hundreds of venues benefit from it. The face of the problem might be music but the reality is economy – the laws effect thousands of small business, it is no way to progress a modern city.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
HR: That’s a tough question as I think you’re only effected by it if you take it on and believe that it’s ok. Women are instantly sexualised in the entertainment industry, that annoys me, but also forces me to wanna boss that aspect of my self and career. On a business level, it’s a total boys club but that is changing rapidly. Girls communicate and do business differently, so the more girls in the music industry, the less we will have warped treatment and views of women.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to tour with, or collaborate with?
HR: I think Sia is a bloody amazing Australian woman. I look up to her badass spirit and how she broke from straya and killed it overseas. It would be pretty rad to collab with Sia on a song.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
HR: Everything. Over the coming years I think we will see the artist take back legal power in recording and publishing realms & the centralisation of all the parts of the machine that take pieces of the artists pie.