Julia Stone recently took time out to answer some interview questions about her musical sibling reunion that became Angus & Julia Stone. She talks about reuniting with Angus, reminisces on a beautiful story about her grandfather when they were children, working with Rick Rubin, life endeavors, what her favorite music is right now, and so much more.
Naturally, her answers read like a sweet, enchanting breeze, and you can almost picture her standing at the mouth of the bay, the wind blowing her hair up into a halo against the sun, holding her basket filled with fresh flowers…
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Can you elaborate on how you reunited as siblings and friends, leading to making music together?
It was a bit of journey. We were both on tour with our separate projects when Rick contacted us. We hadn’t had much to do with each other at that point. Our roads were parallel but far apart. I didn’t know where he was and he didn’t know where I was.
Then we had a reason to get in touch.
Our first conversation on the phone in at least a year was to chat about Angus meeting up with Rick in LA. It was great to hear his voice…we told each other things that had been happening. We ended up chatting like old mates for ages. At that point, we didn’t broach the subject of making music together.
After that initial conversation, more followed.
We started speaking more regularly on the phone and then eventually wound up on the same bill as solo artists at a festival together.
At that point we knew we had to make a decision about working together again. Angus joined me on stage and we sang together. We got a good feeling about that moment. And after the show, backstage we made the decision that we’d give it go.
+ Do you have any early Angus & Julia music stories, having been born into a musical family?
One that I was thinking about the other day – our grandfather.
He was a beautiful man – a big, strong farmer. He looked like an old movie star when we were kids. He was a tough-love kind of man. I was frightened of him but also drawn to him; he is who he is and he doesn’t apologize for his power.
He definitely didn’t seem like the ‘musical type’ – he spent most of his days either sailing ocean swell or on the farm.
But when he would come around to our place, while granny and mum drank coffee, he would play the piano. No music – just making stuff up.
Beautiful sounds…dreamy, cinematic scores of music that would span over the time granny and mum were talking on the veranda.
He composed music without being a musician – I would lie on the carpet and listen to him play. His music took me to magical worlds.
He would never tell anyone he is a piano player or musician – but he is by far one of the most musical people I’ve heard play.
+ Do each of you still write for yourselves, with the intent of putting out solo music? Do you find it difficult to separate the two (solo and duo writing)?
This record with Rick is the first time we made an effort to write together and also to be more involved with each other’s songs. It felt great and something definitely changed between us.
But there will always be songs and sounds that are for other places.
+ Are the songs on the upcoming album all new or did you have scraps of songs from back in the day that you revisited, pieced together, embellished, etc.?
It’s a mix actually.
The ones we wrote together are very much new. They were made 2 weeks before we got into the studio. Songs like ‘Main Street,’ ‘My Word For It’ ‘Heart Beats Slow’ ‘A Heartbreak’.
There were some others we made in Shangri-La as we were recording.
‘From the Stalls’ and ‘Little Whiskey’ – they pretty much came to life in the studio.
Then there are the songs that we had already structured and completed before we got in there – ‘Get Home,’ ‘Grizzly Bear’ ‘Wherever You Are’.
+ Tell us a magical Rick Rubin story from your time spent recording with him in LA!
There was one night when we’d finished tracking and I just wanted to hang out with Rick to talk about this and that.
I went up to his place – we sat and chatted for hours. I had so much going on in my head at that time and he said some really important things to me, things that I will never forget. They changed the way I thought about myself and about my life.
One of the things he said which I think is good for anyone to hear was:
“There’s no such thing as ‘normal’.
Your life is never going to look ‘normal’…. The sooner you stop wanting that, the sooner you’ll get what you want.”
+ If you weren’t musicians for a living (not to say you wouldn’t be making music anyway), what do you think you would be doing/want to do?
I wouldn’t mind having a radio show.
Sharing with people, the songs I love. Interviewing people…
Having friends come on and interviewing them about their lives – whatever they might be.
I’d ask my friend Jane about growing up in Maitland with two literary professors as parents. Or ask Mal about collecting military tanks.
I’d spend years having each extraordinary person I’ve met, come onto the show and hear an aspect of their unique outlook on life…
Mixed in with songs I feel like everyone just has to hear.
+ What music are you each currently listening to?
I’m pretty into a guy called Blake Mills at the moment. He has a record ‘Break Mirrors’ – a friend sent me one of the tracks off ‘Hiroshima’ and I was hooked. I got the whole record and it’s been spinning around for a couple of weeks. I also really love the new Beck record, particularly the song, ‘Blue Moon’ – it wakes me up.
+ Harnessing many travels in your lives, you must have experienced some amazing places… If you could close your eyes, snap your fingers, and open them in one place in the world, where would it be?
Where I am right now – St Kilda, Melbourne.
I’d probably snap my fingers and be down on the bay on a winter day like today when the sun is shining…. My friends around… With my bicycle… Jumping into the sea baths or ride up to the botanical gardens. I’d have a book and some food in the basket.
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Make Angus & Julia Stone’s self-titled full album yours here.
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This album is extraordinary; Angus and Julia are truly unique musicians. – Rick Rubin
With the most basic tools, the Stones build something lovely and lasting. Roll with them. – BBC
Angus and Julia are, simply, talented musicians. – KCRW
Australian siblings Angus & Julia Stone consistently put out spectacular recordings.
The whole thing is heart-breakingly beautiful and brilliantly recorded. – Zane Lowe, BBC Radio 1
Breezy summer nights spent by the ocean, and gentle, rolling guitar melodies. – Paste
A unique voice in Australian music. – Rolling Stone
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+ Check out our recent Featured Playlist: “Songs We Were Listening To While Making The Record” here
+ Get even more info on the amazing duo–read another Artist Spotlight: “Angus & Julia Stone Are Going To Be Your Everything” right here