Angus & Julia Stone have sold out shows in NYC tonight and tomorrow, and they’re headed to DC for a gig at 9:30 Club on Sunday. In anticipation of the performances, which will feature material off their newest record, Snow, I hopped on the phone to Julia to talk about what it’s like to work as a sibling duo, touring the world and more, so internet-eavesdrop on our full conversation below, grab a copy of the LP, and be sure to hit up any/all shows if you can:
What’s the structure of working with a sibling? Do you set the same sorts of rules and boundaries that any collection of creative people would? Or are there just sort of unwritten guidelines since you know each other so well? Is arguing ever an issue?
There’ve been times when we’ve had conflicts, but we’ve had to sort it out; if anything gets left unresolved, it’s not good for us, because we work so closely together. Right now we have really great communication, where if something doesn’t feel right or if someone has something that they need to say, we’re able to say something. I think we’re both getting good at taking responsibility for our own feelings, and we just kind of know when we need space or are tired. It’s like any relationship; we work at it, and we’re in a good place right now.
That’s awesome. And writing this one, was there anything either of you suggested that you ultimately deemed not a good fit for the project and maybe got put aside? I don’t know if either of you plan to do any more solo stuff for a while…
I think for us a change of work is a good thing creatively, and it inspires us. It’s like anything in life, where when you walk away from something you can really appreciate it, and for both of us, we have such a great time working together, but usually it’s a two year cycle when we put out a record, and I guess after two years, creatively we need to have that bit of change in our work, and to be masters of our own creations in solo projects. Then we usually find our way back to each other. I think there’s always going to be that sort of pattern for us; we do a record together, and then we do a record apart, record together, record apart.
That sounds like a healthy equation! And what’s it been like to get these songs ready for the live shows? Has anything been at all tricky to translate to the stage?
You know, it’s not always like this when we make a record, but it’s been great, because we really want to play all of the songs, and it’s just been crazy, because we’ve found it very hard to figure out what to take out of the set. Obviously people want to hear the older songs as well, so we’re trying to make a mix of it, but these songs translate really well live, and we’ve got a great band of extraordinary musicians. It sounds really cool; it sounds a lot like the record, but it has that energy of a live show, where you don’t know what’s going to happen each night.
I know it’s like picking a favorite child, but is there any song that like, today, for instance, you’re really stoked to play live?
Yeah, I’m really into a couple at the moment. I’m really loving singing “Nothing Else”, because it’s such a beautiful love song, and it feels so sweet to sing it. I just love the lyrics, and that whole feeling. And I guess the other song that I’m really loving playing is “Cellar Door”, which is really fun to play.
Do you notice different audiences around the world responding in different ways to certain songs that you play? Maybe certain things are more popular in certain countries than others?
In Europe, we play so many different cities and different countries, so you do have really obvious differences between certain places. The one that really stood out to me on this tour in Europe was Spain. It was so amazing. The Spanish crowd just felt like a massive party, and it was funny, you kind of just had this feeling that you were in another world. It was really fun. But I love all the shows. I like when the crowd is quiet and polite, there’s a nice energy to that as well, but I don’t think there’s any one that I necessarily “prefer”. I really love cities, too. I love Paris, London, Berlin, New York…I get a real kick out of the energy of human beings doing their thing, millions of people just bustling around creating things.
And you’ll be in a lot of cities on tour, but what else have you got planned out besides? Writing anything new, do you think?
Well, we’ve actually gotten better about giving ourselves time off, so we’ll probably tour up until Christmas, play a few shows in Australia over the new year, and then we’re going to take January and February off to hang out and just be at home, and then we’re going to European summer festivals, doing another Australian tour, and then we’ll probably start doing American festivals, playing all the other places we haven’t played. It’s a big touring cycle for us. We spend a lot of time in Scandinavia, which we haven’t done on this tour, so we’ll probably come back to Europe and play all the places we didn’t do this time around, maybe do South America and all that sort of stuff. It ends up being a couple of years by the time we’ve gotten the whole world in. [Laughs]
Oh my god. That’s so crazy. Obviously it’s better to be busy than not busy, but that’s literally insane. [Laughs]
It is crazy. Last year we started playing Australian places, and I think now that we’ve been around for ten years, there are a lot of pockets around the world where people have developed a relationship with the music, and we’re just finding out about it. So, for instance, we went to Beirut and played a show to 5000 people, and we didn’t even know people knew about us in Lebanon. And then we got hit up by Manila in the Philippines, and Kuala Lumpur, and you start playing these places and people know the music there, and it’s a really wonderful and amazing experience. It’s a wild feeling. Music is amazing. It has a way of connecting people regardless of the language or cultural history. It’s this thing that says “I love being in love. I get broken by love.” Every human being has those experiences regardless of where they’re from.