Music / Interview

Inside the Sugar Mountain Ball with Jack River

Jack River's glittery, glorious Sugar Mountain Ball tour is currently underway, so we sat down with Hollie Rankin to get the inside scoop about it.

Hollie Rankin is an absolute force in the Australian music industry. Sometimes she wears the hat of ‘Festival Director’ after launching Grow Your Own Festival in 2016. At other times she is spearheading the incredible all-female media movement Electric Lady or running her production house and creative agency Hopeless Utopian.

But it is under her musical moniker, Jack River, that we know her best. 2018 was a hugely successful year for the Forsyth, NSW singer-songwriter. Successful shows around the country – from support slots to festivals, headline dates, and everything in between – culminated in the release of her stunningly honest debut album, Sugar Mountain, last September.

What followed were more sold-out shows, festival slots at Splendour in the Grass and Groovin’ The Moo, and the extension of a fantasy-like, glitter-filled world.

That world will be fully realised when Jack River’s Sugar Mountain Ball tour is unleashed on Australian fans. Promising the ’90s prom night we never got to have – including fairy lights, fairy floss, disco balls, and incredible frocks – it is sure to be an absolute delight.

We caught up with Hollie in the lead up to the tour to get the inside scoop about the shows and to see just what might come next.

 

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Meet Jack River

The power of music

Hollie Rankin: “Putting Sugar Mountain out there, I left like it was a bold decision and quite a scary idea to put out such personal story and tell people why I’ve created this music and why it also feels the way that it does. I felt really unsure about putting that bit out, but I knew in my heart that it would work somehow. And I think it’s really working. I got to connect with so many incredible people on a personal level. That’s the magic of music being realised. I now feel confident in sharing personal stories on the daily level and on a career level and I believe in the power of sharing what truly, honestly, happens in your life.”

The freedom of vulnerability

HR: “I have moved forward in the way that I have created new opportunities to express a lot of stuff I hadn’t expressed before. It was incredibly freeing to explore those things. It’s super weird to explore them on the national music level, and with journalists and in media. But I have explored those things now and I feel content. I am ready to move on to the next thing that I am figuring out as a little human on the planet.”

The importance of starting conversations

HR: “It’s super important to me. There is a lot going on on the planet right now. A lot of great things and a lot of really challenging things, and I have always been passionate about making sure I’m speaking my mind even if some people don’t like it or they’re not there for that. The space where I get to exist in music, where we get to spread messages that don’t need to be so serious, it’s an important place and way to talk about social issues and make them not seem so hard to take action on.”

Inside the Sugar Mountain Ball

The festivities

HR: “Alongside the album I have tried to create a pretty sparkly, brilliant world that was related to finding youth again and how I dreamt of that – we really celebrate some of the iconic dreams of the ‘90s kid in the clips of ‘Ballroom’ and ‘Limo Song’. I wanted to bring that feeling to life in a live sense, so we decided to make it like the ‘90s prom of our dreams. I noticed when I meet people at shows that they really love that element of what I’m doing so I just want to open the floodgates to the sparkly universe.”

Dress to the nines

HR: “This will be the height of sequins and glitter. I’m definitely going to exhaust that feeling of wanting to feel sparkly. People have started messaging me their outfits which is pretty cool. There will be a lot of shiny things.”

Slowing down

HR: “It’s my longest show yet so I’m really excited to tell stories again because you can’t really do that at festivals because you don’t have enough time. I’m really excited to tell the stories behind some of the songs a little more and celebrate some of the slower songs, as well. I think that, for me, touring for my own crowds is such a beautiful and slow experience when a lot of the time everything feels a bit rushed in the world.

“There will be one new song – thanks for reminding me I need to teach the band. I’ve got a bit of the next chapter leading into this tour and I’d love to share one of my favourite songs from what comes next.”

Come prepared

HR: “I hope they bring an open heart and mind. I want to make the show quite personal so I hope that they feel more empowered to do their thing or be true to themselves in whatever way they need to. Whenever I come away from a concert feeling more like myself it’s been a good night.”

 

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Looking to the future

A new sound

HR: “The exploring of the late ‘90s and early 2000s was really a mark of Sugar Mountain, so what I have created to come next, it’s not going to sound like that, but the rockiness of ‘Adolescent’ and the attempt at that rocky anthemic feeling is sticking around.”

What’s next

HR: “I’m working on the next chapter of Jack River and that’s going to come round pretty quickly. There’s so much going on the planet right now that I’m really passionate about so I’m working to make Jack River – when people come into a show or come to my socials – that I’m speaking about a lot more than music, so I’m really excited to move in that direction.

“I’m working on the next Grow Your Own Festival which I direct and happens in Foster, in January. I’m also working on an Electric Lady event. There are massive projects that I’m chipping away at every day with my team.”

Jack River will bring her Sugar Mountain Ball to The Tivoli, Brisbane on Friday 31 May and The Forum, Melbourne on Saturday 1 June. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.com.au.

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