Acclaimed artist Jack River gets set to perform at the third instalment of Grow Your Own.
Hi Holly, it’s such a pleasure to speak with you! You’ve had a very big year with the release of debut album Sugar Mountain, congratulations! Tell us a little about that process for you of putting the album together?
The album process altogether took about five years. I’ve been working at everything since I was eighteen and made a couple of EPs. Sugar Mountain started to mould a good five years ago. The album was made from quite a dark period of my life in my teens and early twenties. The time kind of added to it and gave me the chance to give that older perspective to my younger self, which was a really beautiful part of the timing.
What are some of your stand-out tracks you’re most proud of?
I really love Constellation Ball. I’ve always wanted to write a song about the planet, which sounds cheesy. It’s really hard to write a song that’s not about love, but that song; I just had this vision about where we’re at at the moment with climate change, needing to take a look at the planet from afar, and make some big decisions about how we’re acting. This song ended up being about the planet and turning out as a song that I really love.
You’ve also just wrapped up your headline national tour, off the back of Jack River’s first UK tour. How do you find performing live as opposed to recording in studio?
I really love it – a completely different way of giving music. To play a sold out national tour was insane. To walk into every room and know that all these strangers are there to cheer something I’ve worked for so long … They’re just such beautiful, warm, involved crowds, so it’s been a really special year to make that turning point.
You are originally a Forster girl. Growing up in the small Mid North Coast town, you have stated previously you felt the desire to challenge the conservative nature of the landscape and felt very supported by fellow local musicians Skeggs and Los Scallywags. How did their influence encourage your love of music from a young age?
Good question! I guess I was really lucky to be born into a community where at the same time there were so many people wanting creative things outside of the norm. Lee McConnell – he does all the art for Grow Your Own and all the art for Jack River. He also does June Rats and works for Splendour. We grew up one year apart.
And the Los Scallywags guys were in my year at school, Benny Reed from Skeggs was a couple of years younger, and Lenni the Label is also around my age. We all grew up seeing each other chipping away at these dreams, and knowing that we were all in it together I think really helped us all to believe that we could make a dent nationally. I think that’s hopefully reflecting now in the younger generations in Forster and surrounds, seeing that you can do something that’s really different from the things happening in your town.
The incredible success of Grow Your Own – it’s now in its third year and getting bigger and better! What can we expect for the third instalment?
It’s grown a lot! We’ve brought the amazing company Secret Sounds on board. They’re behind Splendour and Falls Festival, and now they’re behind Grow Your Own. That’s a huge thing that’s happened. We’ve got DMA’s and Hockey Dad, The Preatures. These are acts that have never been to our area and probably wouldn’t play if it wasn’t for Grow Your Own. So, that’s super huge!
We’ve grown our growers area that sells great local produce and local sustainability. There are about twenty amazing young producers involved in that as well. So, it’s grown to another completely huge level. I really hope people love it.
Why is it important for you to be part of a platform that showcases local artists and producers and their talent?
Another good question! For me, growing up in Forster, I really loved festivals and there was never one in my home town. I really loved home grown produce and being able to know the people who make your food and go and buy it direct from their farm. We’ve tried to put these two things together, so that we can bring national bands to our town and our area and we can shine a spotlight on the local producers making this food that’s right there. It’s not thousands of kilometres away.
How do you see the festival evolving over the next five or ten years?
I guess the goal is to keep growing it. We want to make sure that people are really enjoying it, and we’ll grow with the interest and the natural movement of people. We’ll keep trying to bring more amazing bands and grow our produce movement within the festival. We shall see!
As an artist, what are your plans for 2019 for Jack River?
I am going to release new music very soon. I’ve got some exciting collaborations in the works. I’ll be touring over to the States early next year; I’ve just signed a record deal in America.
What are you most proud of looking back career-wise personally?
Big life question! I guess just getting to the point where this album Sugar Mountain is out in the world. In itself, it was such a challenge for me and to have it received in the emotional way that it was by people, that’s just the coolest thing to be able to give people something they can really use in their day to day life.
So that, and probably creating Grow Your Own. It’s just crazy to think we have a festival now in our home town. My friends and I have pushed for it for so many years.
Interview: Sarah Dunstan.