Angus and Julia Stone

Angus & Julia Stone Return With A Protest of Love

May 13, 2024 3:10 pm GMT
Last Edited May 14, 2024 8:53 am GMT

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"At the time, you don't think about what you're doing; you're just writing songs and hanging out. Now, doing interviews like this with you, you start to think about what it all means and why it was important," Julia Stone ponders.

From their humble beginnings in the hills of Newport, Sydney's Northern Beaches, Australian acoustic virtuosos Angus and Julia Stone have woven a fabled music legacy since their inception as a group in 2006. After some time apart working on separate projects, the siblings have returned to the studio as a duo for their latest album, Cape Forestier.

Unfazed by fleeting trends on TikTok or the radio, Angus and Julia Stone have honed a style unique to their name—a clever blend of folk, Americana and indie rock. Their music is deeply rooted in their upbringing, one shaped by the backdrop of Sydney's blissful Northern Beaches and their father, a wedding singer, who introduced them to their early muses from those he would cover; The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Angels.

Today, The Stones’ poetic lyricism, a vehicle for conveying unfiltered human emotion, is inspired by their ever-changing surroundings. By using everyday stories and sounds, from crashing waves back home to the clanking city traffic overseas, they turn them into melodic recipes that have captivated audiences for almost two decades. As Angus puts it, the final masterpiece is a melting pot of their experiences and the people they meet.

“It's like conversation with every new person you see on the street or a friend you haven't seen in a long while, there's never one subject. It’s also the way you wake up in the morning, the mood that you're in, and the season that it is. I think it all invokes an energy inside you that will be a little breadcrumb trail to where you end up at the end of the day with a song.”

The result of their latest piece of work, Cape Forestier, is an open invite into their living room with 12 tracks and a European tour to bring their new project to life. "It feels like we've gone full circle". Angus muses. "We've come back to what it felt like when we were kids in the living room figuring out writing and the craft of recording”.

Although the record favours simplicity, it serves a more earnest purpose; Angus declares the project a protest of love. "At this time in the world, there's so much chaos, and a lot of people are just really confused as to why things are happening and the mistreatment of community. For us, it's an important time to share love, hope and light through songwriting”.

Before Angus and Julia found themselves back in the studio together, Ben Harper invited them to perform at a couple of his shows in Australia last year. "We both grew up listening to his music, and it felt like a real honour to be able to do that," Julia says. "So that brought us back together. From there, Angus built this amazing studio up in north New South Wales called Sugarcane Mountain Studios, and he said ‘why don't you come up and check it out?’ It felt really magical and really special".

The siblings completed most of the record in the 1970s manor tucked away in the hills of Murwillumbah, with the help of co-producer and guitarist Ben Edgar. But their intense work schedule (just before Angus went on tour with Dope Lemon in the US and Julia was moving to Berlin) meant backing vocals and finishing touches were recorded around the globe - from hotels in Nashville and Houston to Julia’s newfound home in Germany.

“Nature is a big part of our life. There's obviously references to the ocean on this record, and that was a huge part of our childhood. But we also draw a lot of inspiration from the human connections that form in big cities, these amazing places where people learn to coexist. It doesn't always work, but there's something quite beautiful about really operational cities”, Julia explains.

For nearly two decades, Angus and Julia have navigated their work as a duo, exploring their talents and finding success as both solo artists and a band. Their time apart has been pivotal in their journey, allowing them to evolve individually and bring fresh experiences and perspectives into their collaborative work. As Angus reflects; "In any healthy relationship, you need to be aware of being able to have space and create outside of what you do in that project, or whatever it is that you're doing together. For us, it's both being out in the world and growing as humans and creating these incredible things that make our heart feel whole, and it just comes to a [point in] time where it feels right".

From being discovered by Fran Healy during an open mic night in London to Rick Rubin convincing the siblings to work together again after a break in their mid-twenties – Julia marvels that it's taken a village to get them to where they are now. "Hundreds of humans have shown up and put in time, energy, love, and care to encourage and support us, starting from our parents, of course, and then through to how lucky we've been with labels and booking agents. So, to get to this place now, of feeling like we're finding our true voices and being more comfortable in our skin, which happens, I guess, as you grow. There's not one moment that made this happen".

With all the changes the pair have endured over the years, the most career-altering one has been the evolution of the internet and social media. Julia acknowledges the dark side of the web, but glows as she rattles off destinations like Beirut, Malaysia, and Egypt, places they've played because of it. "We're having all of these kids from Cairo driving up to sing all of the songs and knowing every word, and that's an incredible feeling that we are part of a global community of people who feel connected to our songs".

"I still have a vinyl player that we grew up with. I love the feeling of buying vinyl, the feeling of putting it on, and hearing the crackle as it starts. I love listening to a whole album. But I also love listening to Spotify playlists, Apple playlists, or whatever. I like the mixtape thing where you can kind of just not have to think, and you can put music on, and it's chosen for you. I think that's extraordinary." She adds.

As the Stones strive for connection through their music, they believe the live music landscape in Australia could use a little more. Saddened by the news of more cancellations of big Australian music festivals like Splendour in the Grass and Groovin the Moo, they are hopeful the changes mean a shift in how local Aussie music is promoted.

"It's hard to watch when you've got such beautiful festivals that bring everyone together as a community in our country. I guess a positive is there'll be some cool small festivals that start-up that brings new light to something that possibly was getting lost," Angus contemplates.

"I think Angus is right. It's extremely sad and hard. But it is also one of those things where that sort of small community festival, it did get a bit lost. You know, we started out doing those really small festivals," Julia adds.

“Something beautiful about Angus is that you're always trying to see a potential opportunity for change, and who knows what that is? Hopefully, it's positive, and it means all of these little flowers start to blossom all over Australia".

This unique artistic vision, always seeking the potential for change, combined with their deep sibling connection, defines Angus and Julia Stone's work and sets them apart in the music industry. Cape Forestier is another chapter in their recipe book, keeping us hungry.

Angus & Julia Stone's Cape Forestier is out now via Play It Again Sam.

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Written by Gemma Donahoe
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