Julia Stone is half of the brother-sister folk rock duo from Sydney, Australia. She and her brother Angus are household names in the Australia and the UK. Their current record A Book Like This, released overseas 2007, went gold in Australia and spent several weeks in the top ten. It was released here in the US this past March to rave reviews. They followed the US release with two months of touring with Brett Dennen.
Julia and Angus share vocal and writing duties on the album. Their music is honest, warm and deeply personal. Julia’s voice is strong, sweet and the lyrics suggest she’s wise beyond her years. During live show’s you’ll find her playing acoustic guitar, trumpet, piano, harmonica and dancing merrily around the stage. It’s obvious she loves what she’s doing.
I met Julia last week at the Troubadour prior to their sold out show. We were in the front bar area for the interview, while her dad was setting up the merch table. It’s a truly family affair for the Stones. Julia was open and honest, similar to her style of music.
R&G: In the last 6 months, you’ve played the Hotel Café, opened for Brett Dennen at the House of Blues, been on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, played at Amoeba Records and now you’re headlining the Troubadour. Tell me about your rise in LA and the U.S.
Julia: It feels good. It’s kind of trippy to be here promoting A Book Like This, because it came out in Australia almost two years ago. There’s a weird feeling about it; talking about songs that are super old. In a way, it’s fresh too. The States are exciting unlike London, which was a real stall; moving there and being in the cold and away from the ocean. When we come to LA, we stay in Santa Monica because, for us, being by the ocean feels like home. It makes it easier – better.
R&G: You guys have had success in Australia and the UK. What’s the difference between audiences overseas versus here?
Julia: There are some cultural differences, but in the end, when you’re up on stage, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing for or to how many people – it feels the same and that’s a good thing. It always feels euphoric and easy. It’s not that we don’t get nervous. More than anything, we get excited. It doesn’t matter where we are; there’s no strangeness about playing to new crowds.
R&G: At the House of Blues show, you seemed very comfortable – dancing and skipping around the stage. Do you drink wine or are you on a natural high?
Julia: I’m not good with drinking alcohol before I go onstage. I like to have a glass of wine after the show, but I like to be nice and clearheaded. Dancing, for me, is something I really enjoy. When some songs start – there are only specific songs I dance to, like ‘Mango Tree’ or ‘Just a Boy’ – I can’t help it. I’m always standing on my tippee toes too. It’s probably a height thing, because I’m really short. With those two things together – being on my toes and to start floating about when the beat kicks in – it’s hard to just stand there.
R&G: Angus rarely does interviews. He seems a bit shy.
Julia: We did interviews for the first year together, and he would always be quiet. I’d look at him like ‘Do you want to say something?’ I always felt like I was talking so much, and thought maybe he was feeling like I was answering for him. And then one day he just said, ‘You know what? I don’t like it. I don’t like talking about the songs. I don’t want to do interviews. That’s it.’ I was just like, ‘Alright. I like doing interviews, so I’ll do them.’ And, he was like, ‘Cool.’
R&G: I read an interview where you mentioned that you and Angus have become best friends and how fortunate you were to really get to know your brother – not just because he’s a family member – and how nice it is to be given an opportunity to get to know him properly and not just because you’re family. Does that still ring true?
Julia: I think it’ll always be true to us. I really value the fact that this has happened. We’re family and we’ll always be there for each other. That’s how it is with a lot of people in my family. I love them so much, but don’t know all the ins and outs of their lives or who they are. I kinda take them for granted. They’re just hanging there doing their thing. To get to know him has been an absolute pleasure. He’s an amazing and extraordinary man and friend, and he challenges me every day. I think because we have the bond of family, we can push each other even harder too.
R&G: How do you push each other?
Julia: Just emotionally. On this journey, it’s really challenging sometimes, but because we’re family, we can be a little bit more… You know when you’re with your family, sometimes you say things you wouldn’t say if it was just a friend or something? You’d say, ‘I’m not going to get angry at that situation because it’s not cool.’ With family, you can be like, ‘Fuck you! You really fucked up!’ Whoever you love, you have this ability to really let them down, and because of that, you have to figure out ways of growing out of it all the time. Every day, it’s like, ‘Alright. We kind of fucked up yesterday. Let’s say, ‘Sorry,’ and become better people because of it.’