Ambassador Holly Rankin aka Jack River answers 10 quick questions

Friday, 03 Aug 2018

You probably know Holly Rankin as Jack River, the writer/producer/performer behind this year's psych-pop masterpiece Sugar Mountain, a bracing collection of songs reflecting on the loss of her younger sister and growing up following the tragedy. "Sugar Mountain culminates in bright, psychedelic pop instrumentals. Paralleled by a vivid, all-encompassing aesthetic, it’s a shimmering dreamlike experience," commented Tone Deaf.

That is just one side to Holly, who is also the head of her own Hopeless Utopian enterprise and responsible for the Grow Your Own Festival and all-female Electric Lady tours. We're thrilled to have Holly sign on to be an APRA AMCOS Ambassador as well, with her first official duty answering these 10 quick(ish) questions.

Three words that describe you:

Curious, ambitious, relentless

I am inspired to write songs when…

I am overwhelmed by emotion or I find an original articulation of emotion. 

The song everyone should listen to right now is:

Fade - Annie Hamilton

A meaningful musical memory of mine is… 

Hearing Sugar Mountain as one hear-able thing (on great speakers) after working on it for 8 years. 

I stay focused by:

Outlining my goals on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Staying aware of what is working and what isn’t and making changes quickly if it ain’t working. Fueling my life with things that nourish my brain and body so I am able to focus on work at 100%.

My advice for others from regional areas who want to break into the music industry is…

NEVER be afraid of ‘scenes’, ‘big city companies’ or the city itself. There is no better time to chill in the country and email the city folk from your nice big wooden desk by the sea/on the farm (this is what I am doing right now).

Never be afraid to ask questions, go straight to the top and work backwards but never forget how important your local scene is. Embrace your town and understand how it has shaped you - these are important stories that will accelerate your career. 

I realised my songwriting had value when…

On a real song level: when people were emotionally effected and moved by it.

On a business level: when I began to understand the monetary value of original songs.

My top five tips for other female entrepreneurs in the music industry are:

  1. You are on your own path: don’t compare yourself to anybody, don’t change yourself for anybody (but yourself), focus on your own career/work, be as detailed as possible and you will realise that nothing could ever compare to your own originality. 
  2. Aim for your ultimate outcome and aim high: make sure you can hardly comprehend the outcome (in the beginning) but work every day to comprehend it and make it a reality.

  3. Be honest with yourself and your team: don’t waste time fretting over whether to bring something up with someone and similarly - be real with yourself about where you are at - continual failure really is the best medicine for success (get used to it).

  4. Persistence is more powerful than potential/talent: persistence is key in the music industry, and in life! This goes for you and your perception of others. Talent comes and goes, persistence stays. 
  5. Love it, persist, or let go: Make sure you actually love what you do, this industry is built on positive creative energy and you’re going to need A LOT of it.

Copyright is meaningful to me because…

it is the core mechanism through which you will (eventually) realise value.

The future of songwriting is exciting because… of the internet. The mechanisms of consumption and distribution in music are being obliterated by instant global access. It’s a big shift and it's very messy for music businesses. There is no better time for musicians to understand the natural rights they hold over their works and what that ownership of rights is worth. Of course -- there is nothing better than a great team (which you often have to sacrifice rights to obtain), but there is NO REASON you shouldn’t understand your rights as clearly as your lawyer (or their lawyer) does!

I am an APRA AMCOS Ambassador because…

I believe in empowering Artists with information and education about music business and the art of songwriting, inclusive of myself!


Listen to Sugar Mountain
Apple Music | Spotify

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