Young activists remain front and centre in ‘We Are The Youth’s accompanying video, directed and edited by Nyikina Warrwa and Wangkumara Barkindji filmmaker Marlikka Perdrisat, alongside Holly herself. Assembled from hours of archival footage, it features global change-makers including Jean Hinchcliffe, Grace Tame, and Brittany Higgins, as well as global advocates like Amanda Gorman (US), Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (Chad), and Autumn Peltier (Canada).
The track is framed around a girl called Annie, who represents the teens of Australia working tirelessly, “pouring their youth into fixing the issues they didn’t create” says Holly. “It’s incredible, but they shouldn’t have to carry the burden. We should be seeing our leaders doing that, working around the clock on these issues – and we’re not.”
‘We Are The Youth’ pays homage to the forebears of what Jack River terms “political pop” – artists like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young, whose music doubled as outspoken political statements. In its production – worked on in collaboration with Matt Corby and Peking Duk’s Adam Hyde, and mixed by Spike Stent (Lorde, Madonna, Beyoncé, Björk) – the result is a heady, electrifying mix of warped guitars and stomping drums that capture “the feeling of our times, like a folk song laced with acid” as River describes it.
With over 66 million streams, a Platinum, and multiple Gold singles, Jack River is a force to be reckoned with. Her debut album Sugar Mountain earned 3 x ARIA Award nominations, including Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Best Pop Release and Engineer of the Year, an AIR nomination for Best Independent Pop Album, and saw Holly nominated for Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year at the APRA Awards.
But Jack River has not only proved herself as a powerhouse musician in recent years, but as a voice for change. Last month Jack River spearheaded the ‘Our Soundtrack Our Stories’ initiative alongside ARIA after posting a now viral call-to-arms for Australian media and business to get behind homegrown music as it struggles under the pressure of a new wave of lockdowns, leading to action from Channel 7, Channel 9, Coles, 7-Eleven and Band Australia.
Earlier this year, in conjunction with the Sydney Opera House Jack River hosted an event using her platform to “pass the mic”. ‘Visions Of Us’ was an evening of music and poetry that united the voices of climate activism, First Nations leaders, and young artists. The event featured musical artists including Budjerah, and special guests Brooke Boney, Grace Tame and Kirli Saunders.
Both ‘We Are The Youth’ and its accompanying video serve as a celebration of the incredible work young people are performing all around the world, but also serves as a galvanising reminder of our collective power. “I want people to feel like this generation has their back if they’re taking urgent action” Holly says. “We’re all in this together, and every single individual’s actions matter.”