////JULIA STONE////MAY 2007////
My head has been truly blown off by Australian brother and sister duo Angus & Julia Stone. Recently I was indulged with a live acoustic performance, and although short, it really was one of the most intensely delivered performances I’d witnessed in years. Heart wrenchingly honest and spectacularly delivered I knew I had to find out more about this acoustic duo. Originally from Newport, Sydney and born of musical parents, this brother/sister combo had up until recently been playing together, but as separate performers…maybe this has given them the fuel to elevate themselves miles above your average acoustic performers and gained them the opportunity to record with both Fran Healey (Travis) & Chris Potter (Verve/Richard Ashcroft)…
Firstly, how did you both enjoy your time and the show in Norwich?
As the tour went along the four bands became one big family… and so by the time we played Norwich we were all really excited about being together… at the end of Finlay’s set all four bands got up on stage and played together ‘Women of the World’- everyone was dancing and singing. There were twenty of us up on stage…each person holding a shaker, tambourine, triangle… whatever we could make a noise with… with four people to the mic… that was amusing and great..
I believe you are back in Australia at the moment. What is it you miss the most, other than family and friends, when you are away from home?
I don’t really miss anything… we may have when we first arrived… but I can’t remember what it was that I missed… it is really lovely to be home, but more and more I enjoy the life we live in London… I am enjoying meeting new friends… listening to music we would never hear if we were back in Newport.
I think it’s fair to say that yourself and Angus have played shows in all four corners of the globe throughout the last few years. Where have you most enjoyed playing and why?
We had a great gig in New York. It was in an old theatre in the centre of the city, that this incredible woman had been running for sixty years. She had been offered millions of dollars to sell it, so it could be turned into apartments, but remained adamant that it remain a venue for her theatre company. It was fitted with wooden chairs with velvet fabric over the cushion… the back stage was filled with props and costumes, mirrors and ladders… the theatre company had a play on before we performed… so we waited while the actors performed a Tennessee Williams play, then the actors stayed to watch the show… it was the first time we had been to New York and the city was alive for us from the moment we arrived… then the gig we played was so fun.
‘Heart full of Wine/Chocolate & Cigarettes’ the double E.P. you’ve recently released was the result of two separate recording sessions. One with Chris Potter and the other with Fran Healey. How did both sessions go?
Both Fran and Chris, they straight away treated us like we were family… and when you are relaxed and having a lovely time, I believe you can create so much more freely…
New single ‘Private Lawns’ – which is my personal favourite from the sessions, but I’m a little confused regarding its subject matter, could you shed some light on the subject?
Private lawns was written in the lounge room at Dad’s house, which is where most songs have been written. He used to live in a little old home called ‘the cottage’…. The house was cluttered with unusual pieces of furniture… and too many cups and plates for the three of us that were living there… the lounge room was where we would sit around for most of the day… it was the biggest room in the house but the main feature was a huge glass window that looked out into the tops of the trees… like we were in a tree house… and so we had a jam one day and out came some of the lyrics from Calamity Jane, a musical we had grown up with… and it came out like that… who knows why….I don’t even really know what the window or the lounge room has to do with the song…
You must have some personal favourites across both E.P.s…which tracks are real high points for you?
A song that came and went was ‘Sadder Than You’… I haven’t played that song since I recorded it and I don’t know that I shall ever play it again… it was written for that time in a way… and only for that time. Like it belonged only then and there…
I believe you are both the product of very musical parents, has this helped or hindered your quest?
Our parents have been our biggest supporters with anything we were doing. At one time I wanted to open up a musical nursery at Dad’s house… a place where children would come during the day instead of attending regular day care and we would play music and paint all day long… I transformed his house into a children’s haven with all the safety requirements as outlined by the government…. It was with great encouragement and patience that he allowed me to embark on this project… and after one day of looking after children… I closed down the musical nursery… he was never upset with me about the stickers on the glass and the butterflies in the windows…
It’s been noted that artists such as Elliot Smith, Nick Drake & Joni Mitchell have been big influences on you both, but can you let us in on some things you’ve heard recently that you have found inspiring?
Ray Lamontagne… Alberta Cross…. The Moldy Peaches
You started out performing together but as separate artists, now you are an established duo, but I wondered how you are planning on taking things into the future?
The future is such a fickle thing. It changes with the minutes of the day…the most important thing to us right now is that we get joy out of what we do. And the music and life we are living brings us great joy… so we shall continue along this path until that ceases to happen.
Can I ask what happened prior to 2006 for you to decide to start performing together?
We were living at home with Dad. Angus was labouring and I was teaching trumpet and we were surviving mainly from our Mum and Dad’s generosity… and then after hearing many of the songs that Angus had been writing I organised him to play at a couple of open mic nights… and I went along and sang harmonies with him… then from there we played more and more gigs… then I started putting some of my songs in the set… and then our Aunty Cathy suggested we release something with both our songs… and so we put together ‘Chocolates and Cigarettes’ and that E.P. brought us over to London… and everything else in the last year.
Does performing & writing as siblings add extra pressure on the unit?
Most of the time it is inspiring to watch each other grow… to be playing music with someone who is totally on their own path… and to hear music come from that path… music that thinks and feels differently to you and yet comes from the same song. In a way because we don’t write together it takes away any pressure creatively… it would be rather stressful in our situation to try and write music together… writing at this point in our lives is only for each of us on our own… and so it is exciting and freeing to watch one another create music from their own world… it is a mysterious and distant land from which we both come and we meet up in the middle sometimes to play gigs, juggle or play cards…
You are both contributing individual tracks to each other – can you tell us by whom and how it is decided what makes the final cut?
The songs decide for themselves really… when we finished recording for this album we had about twenty five songs and some songs made perfect sense in the recording and others seemed like they were trying too hard… like they really wanted to be on the album but in wanting, it just happened that they didn’t sound as easy and relaxed as some of the songs that just didn’t really care… you know so the songs decide for themselves.
I’m guessing there is a full album release in the pipeline, are you able to give us any details as of yet?
The album will be out around September I believe…
Finally, after all this is over, where will you both be?
We’ll have a farm somewhere… and run our own music festivals… have lots of friends and family living together with lots of children running around… and that way people won’t have to remember us, they can come and stay with us… you can come stay too if you want.