Holly Rankin is Jack River – so called after a pirate name she and her friends made up when they were 16. With her new EP, Highway Songs No. 2, she conjures the sense of adventure the open road (or sea) evokes, just in time for summer. She makes music for cruising with wind in your hair and sun in your eyes: at times sounding like Mazzy Star or Angel Olsen. She’s inspired by Neil Young, Grimes, Conor Oberst and her hometown of Forster on the NSW mid-north coast.
Broadsheet: How does Forster influence the music you make?
Holly Rankin: Growing up in Forster by the sea, in the country, I fell in love with the sea and a huge sky of stars and unlimited time in the bush riding horses and stuff. I try and embed that love for nature in my music in the form of analogue synths and distorted guitars; and messy, unaffected vocals – things that remind me of raw nature. I think nature does romance the best so I try to learn as much as possible from that.
BS: And what can you tell us about Highway Songs No. 2?
HR: This EP is a mixtape of so many different times in my life so far, and it felt right to put them all together and figuratively drive along a highway with them all in tow. They’re summery, definitely on some kind of adventure and have a sense of reckless abandon, of moving on or driving into the night.
BS: Who are your songwriting heroes?
HR: Neil Young is a pretty massive songwriting hero for me, his songs have an authenticity and a real-ness that feel so easy and magnetic. I love the aggression in Grimes’s songwriting, and the poetic simplicity in Lorde’s songs. David Bowie’s ability to bring the surreal into an everyday language is quite mind-blowing. Conor Oberst was my Bob Dylan growing up – his ability to dissolve complex ideas into simple lines blows my mind also (see Cape Canaveral). Right now, though, it’s Frank Ocean and Angel Olsen.
BS: Fantasy support slot – any artist, any era, anywhere?
HR: Maybe the insane Live Aid concert in 1985 with Queen, David Bowie and Elton John (among others).
Jack River’s Highway Songs No. 2 is out now. Catch her supporting Dope Lemon on its November tour dates, or on her EP tour.
Thu December 1 – The Foundry, Fortitude Valley
Fri December 2 – Hudson Ballroom (formerly Plan B Small Club), Sydney
Fri December 23 – Grow Your Own – A Summer Festival
Sat December 3 – The Works Club, Fitzroy
Sat January 21 – Sugar Mountain Festival
December 28–31 – Falls Festival