Thanks to the totally gorgeous Jack River, WildnFree now knows where to go if your love hurts me – direct to Palo Alto, road tripping straight there listening to her debut EP Highway Songs No. 2 out today through I OH YOU. She’ll drive listening with pleasure to this perfect mixtape of indie-rock, synth-pop and psychedelic sounds, and sing along loudly all the way. Jack River herself, Forster’s own Holly Rankin, spoke to WildnFree about her six-track debut while sitting in her own car, in the rain, in Surry Hills, learning the rockstar interview ropes and nailing it easily.
“I guess these songs all reflect that side of me that’s gone through some crazy life experiences, says Holly. “Music helped me heal myself in a way, these songs are like making your own medicine.” Palo Alto in particular offers a hypnotic two-chord progression that seems to pick you up and rock you along, helping you feel soothed. Talk Like That has a sweet and quirky synth riff to make you smile. This is no coincidence, Holly’s songs are written especially to uplift.
“Over time, I added things in to the songs to build that sense of resilience, because I wanted to feel that more,” she shares. “Then, you end up feeling it because you’ve written it. It’s a cool way to feel more bad ass.” Not just a fucking genius self-care strategy, Holly hopes her songs can help others. “It’s a nice thing to give to people who are also out there in Not Giving A Fuckland.”
Like many fine songwriters, Holly found her music roots in folk, but felt drawn towards pulling out new sounds. “Over the years, I realised there’s a lot of power and fun in writing pop,” she says. “Plus, I’ve got a huge love for psychedelic textures, and a big musical crush on Tame Impala.” Wise woman, who could blame her? “I knew I wanted Talk Like That and Dream Girl to be more synth pop” she explains further. “Those songs marks the beginning of perfecting that line between pop and psychedelic folk.”
Psychedelic-pop-folk sounds like an absolute winning strategy, and one Holly feels totally ‘at home’ exploring. “MGMT and Tame Impala were my faves in high school, and I wondered, “Why isn’t a girl doing this?” she says, touching on the delicate women in music conversation with grace. “I tried to copy them for a while, but found that matching these sounds with my original roots in folk worked really well. I thought “This is home, musically, at the moment.” Hearing similar thoughts and feelings in this conversation with Vera Blue, is there something beautifully in the air right now? Young talented women finding their groove, feeling at home and finally unleashing?
Absolutely none of this has come easily to Holly though. Losing her little sister Shannon in a terrible accident 10 years ago, she found her way through the grief and shock with the help of music and words. “Music became my third parent in a way,” she says, sharing her story with exceptional bravery. “I’d always written things like daily diary entries and poems, so I found losing my sister cracked open this huge world of needing to express how I felt.” She also called in the music big guns for extra support. “I really felt the need to be supported by big musicians, like Bob Dylan, and the Chilli Peppers, or Death Cab for Cutie and Bright Eyes, I felt huge love,” she says, incredibly grateful. “I kept realising how much strength and resilience you can find in rewriting your path, and I wanted to write that into the music. Then when you sing it and play it, it becomes a reality.”
Having learnt these extraordinarily tough lessons at a young age, Holly wishes to share some of her wisdom. “That’s why I was really keen to really properly release this music. If I can be of any help, and give a song to anyone whose going through dark times, and it helps them redefine how they look at it, that would be so magical.”
WildnFree supports you absolutely 100% of the way in this magical mission Jack River. Grab Highway Songs No. 2 for a brilliant road trip mixtape and a little bit of musical healing. Now, jump in the car, wind down the windows and blast the absolutely rocking Palo Alto out the roof: