Monday 22 January 2018

Q&A: Julia Stone of Aussie sibling duo Angus and Julia Stone

On sailing with Damien Rice and bagging a grammy down under...

Angus and Julia Stone
Angus and Julia Stone
Angus and Julia Stone
Ed Power

Ed Power

Hey, Julia. Where are you at? There's a lot of noise in the background.

I don't even know where I am. We're at a place called the Bikini Club.


Yeah. Hey, Freddie what town are we in? [muffled conversation in the background] Toulouse? Yeah, we're in Toulouse.

Well, first of all, we're told congratulations are in order. You recently won 'best album' at the Australian equivalent of the Grammys.

Yeah, it's the big awards night in Australia. It's a little bit smaller than the Grammys, 'cos of the size of the country.

Tell us about your acceptance speech. Clint Eastwood- classy or Gwyneth Paltrow- cringeful?

Oh my god, it was the worst speech. We were so petrified, we probably made the worst speech of all time. It's set up in a strange way -- when you get the award, you are interviewed by the host. He asks stuff like, 'how are you feeling?' We were shocked and didn't say anything. It was weird, but probably kind of funny to people watching at home.

Plus, you got a cool trophy...

What they give you is actually this really sharp pyramid thing. It's made of heavy metal. Actually, it's quite dangerous. Almost like a bludgeoning instrument. It's really a dangerous thing to give to a bunch of drunken Australians -- and to then organise an after-party. People have been injured.

Did you chuck yours out a window at 2am?

Well, one of my friends is using one as a doorstop. It's pretty solid. We've won a few, so my dad has a couple at his house. They're high up. It's quite dangerous having them around kids.

Is it true you and your brother Angus are currently of no fixed abode?

The last time we had a home was in Hackney, London, about two years ago. Since then we've been untethered. The people around us could probably tell you how disorientated we are. But we are happy. I like not having anything, like not having loads of junk. Our mum's a bit of a hoarder. We always had too much stuff. Our dad's the same -- he loves collecting old things and fixing stuff. It's nice to lead a different life, where what you have is your suitcase. And when it gets too full, you give stuff away. It's cool.

Travis' Fran Healy produced your first album. But you opted to produce the follow-up yourselves. Were you disillusioned by the collaboration process?

Fran worked on about six tracks on the last record. I think we've learnt so much from everybody in terms of being comfortable in a studio and recording music. Every time we go back to the studio, we're more comfortable. Production isn't that far removed from what we do live, because we have so many ideas about the music. We're quite comfortable with it. To put those ideas into practice is great. That said, we really loved our time with Fran and I'm always up for working with producers.

Damien Rice got up on stage with you for a duet in Los Angeles recently. Do you guys go back a way?

Yeah, we met him in London a few years ago. He's such a legend, we got on very well. He loves sailing. We grew up by the sea in Australia, so we love it too. We got chatting and he said, next time you're in Ireland come and hang out and we'll go for a sail.

Did you take him up on his offer?

Yeah, the last time we played Ireland, we went out for a sail with him in the Irish Sea. It was so amazing. It was this totally storm-like weather. We were like, should we really be going out? All the boats were coming in and we were going out. It was really fun. Our drummer and bass player -- they're from New York -- they'd never been sailing. They were totally freaked out. It was really cool. He's very lovely and had us over and we drank wine and sat around for a while.

What's his boat like?

It's a humble boat. I think it's a 25 footer or something. The same as our dad's pretty much -- a fun sailing boat.

Wow, that's honestly the first time I've heard the words 'Damien Rice' and 'fun' in the same sentence. Anyway, turning to music -- a lot of reviewers are picking up a California vibe on the new record: insightful or lazy?

I don't think it's lazy. I understand why people say there are some lyrics that relate directly to California. We grew up by the ocean. I'm sure that comes into it. But there are just so many people and places that inspire us.

The album Down The Way is out now. Angus and Julia Stone play Tripod, Dublin, on December 6

Irish Independent

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