Jack River on the making of her sweet new album

Words by Nicole la Ruffa

Enter a sugar-coated universe.

Jack River first propelled onto the indie-pop scene in 2016 with her EP, Highway Songs No 2. Since then, she’s scored some major love from Triple J, millions of streams on Spotify and even founded the Grow Your Own music festival.

Now, the singer/songwriter has unveiled her debut LP, Sugar Mountain – a record packed with dreamy riffs and feel-good beats reminiscent of the early 2000s. If you haven’t already given it a spin, we suggest making some time to do so.

To find out more, we sat down with Jack River to chat all things Sugar Mountain.

The singles from your debut record collectively boast nearly six million streams. How does that feel?

It’s just overwhelming and beautiful to know that so many people are listening. It’s nice to know my songs are going to a good home.

The tracks reveal some pretty personal lyrics. How much of the record is inspired by your own experiences?

I guess most of it, probably 100 per cent, is inspired by whatever I’m feeling at the time. A lot of this record I was feeling quite dark, and trying to push through and write myself out of situations. So, it’s kind of like experiencing it but also pushing out of it.

How therapeutic is the songwriting process?

It’s extremely therapeutic. I write when I’m overwhelmed by something I can’t figure out. Especially when I was younger, when I couldn’t figure out much, it really helped. As I get older, I think I almost use it less, but it becomes more poignant.

Are you ever afraid of your songs becoming too personal?

No, I just don’t have any fear of stuff being too personal. I think, since I was a kid, I’ve never cared much about what I share. I’m probably an over-sharer.

Along with dreamy, feel-good synths, Sugar Mountain is embedded with references to your youth. Can you talk us through this?

It’s kind of a darker element to the story. I lost my sister when I was 14, so it was a crazy, life-informing, insane explosion in my youth. I realised eight years on, after I’d created half of the album, that it was a way to write myself another parallel universe, a sugar-coated youth. It’s a big feeling to express, but the album is the sugary youth that I kind of dreamt up. I tried to keep in it the vulnerability and grit of the youth that I did experience.

You curated the Grow Your Own festival to showcase the talent from your hometown. How important is it to you to support local artists?

It’s really important. I found [breaking into the industry] really challenging, coming from the country. I feel like it took me a couple years longer than my city peers because you have to come to a whole new city, and you have no idea. Whereas city kids get to grow up with a bit of an idea of what radio stations even are (laughs), you know. Now it’s different, probably. I think it’s super important to try and get in touch with country artists and make sure they’re across what the city is across.

You’ll be hitting the road in September for your national Sugar Mountain tour. What songs are you really looking forward to performing?

I’m really keen to play ‘Confess’, ‘Constellation Ball’ and ‘Fields’, so I’m planning that at the moment. They’re such big, anthemic songs to me, in my head. So I hope that I can turn them into great live anthemic songs, as they are in my brain. I’ve waited so long to be able to sing those lyrics that I wrote ages ago, so it’ll be great.

Sugar Mountain is out now via I Oh You. Catch Jack River on her Sugar Mountain tour nationally from September and at Spilt Milk festival in November.


This article was originally published in Fashion Journal 181. You can read it here.

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