Together, Angus and Julia Stone form two halves of a musical act whose similarities include a pure and genuine love of music and a talent for telling beautiful and beguiling stories. But their differences are more interesting.
Angus sits as an observant outsider, detached but determined to engage with the world around him. “The Beast” takes on the expectations of society and “Silver Coin” places the sound of an unfamiliar city into the crucible of a passing relationship. Live he is the glue, rhythmically and melodically binding, wholesome, heart warming and joyful in song.
Julia is the elusive larrikin, the “Tinker Bell” that lifts, shakes and holds, at once embodying delight and pain. “Here We Go Again” takes a spiraling accent through dizzying romance, “Wasted” is a young woman emotionally entwined, loved and hurt in simultaneous throws, “Hollywood” is the fairytale gone wrong.
While Julia’s songs expose her as a young woman in love dealing with relationships and interactions, Angus’ songs surface from a different perspective, one that showcases a unique view on society.
Together the songs on A Book Like This are strikingly poignant and textured recordings that immediately draw listeners into the simple and endearing vision of the duo’s world.
Whether they are tagged as folky, acoustic or bluesy-rock is not a concern for the duo: “We don’t listen to heaps of other music,” says Angus. “We are two people who play music because…well just because…and if people can enjoy the music and feel something then that is a wonderful thing.”
Raised in the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia, Angus and Julia’s love of music was inextricably intertwined with their experiences of growing up in a musical family. Music was an integral aspect of family life, with music as the bloodline through both their mother and father’s families. A long line of musicians made for an environment that encouraged the duo to express themselves using their voices and any of the many instruments lying around the house.
The story started with pressing up their own Chocolates and Cigarettes EP to sell at local shows in 2006, and the duo quickly caught the attention of Australian alternative radio stations. With the buzz building in Australia, the opportunity arose for Angus and Julia to spend an extended amount of time in London where they started with sporadic acoustic nights that quickly developed into headlining gigs.
In the UK, Fly Magazine stated “Angus and Julia don’t so much seize the room as gently envelope it in a warm shawled embrace,” and after seeing them live the Daily Telegraph stated, “they are going to be huge.”
On their first trip to London, they met Fran Healy from the band Travis, who invited them to his house to work on some demos, which eventually became a part of A Book Like This. The rest of the songs from the album would be recorded in their mother’s lounge room back in Australia with producer and friend, Ian Pritchett.
“The most important thing about recording for us is that we are with people we love, and that everyone can feel good about where we are and what we are doing—and this whole record was done in a lounge room… making music with people we love.”
Another facet of this duo is noted by DB Magazine, Australia - “From the storybook pencil sketches adorning the cover and liner notes, to the adorable listening content A Book Like This is an extension and development of an already very well musically established partnership further bonded by family connection.”
The photos, website, art and video clips are all carefully created by Angus and Julia, family and friends. The album is like a storybook – hence the title – with each song revealing itself like a different page. For example, Angus chose the cover from a book his Grandmother used to read and also conceived the idea for “The Beast” video utilizing all of the characters from the album cover.
Julia then storyboarded it and collaborated with artistic friends who came on board to draw and animate. This pleasing DIY ethic adds to their already homegrown, honest appeal. “I enjoy having about ten different things to do,” Julia says. “The whole process is fun. For me and for Angus, it’s just life now. It’s never an effort. Every single part of it has been fun and if it wasn’t fun then we wouldn’t do it.”
While the pleasingly unassuming Angus and Julia are refreshingly modest about their talent and remain nonplussed regarding their success, their star undeniably continues to ascend at pace. A Book Like This recently went Platinum in Australia and, on the other side of the world, two successful UK tours supporting Newton Faulkner and David Gray book-ended their own sold-out London shows.
The duo signed to Nettwerk Music Group and will make their North American debut with the March 2009 release of A Book Like This. In truth, their allure shouldn’t come as a surprise, as they are really the embodiment of everything good and natural about the essence of honest music. After all, anyone who has ever experienced the breathless elation or the heartbreaking pain of love cannot fail to be engaged by the enchanting stories told by Angus and Julia Stone.
Pic: Kristian Dowling/Getty Images Entertainmen/Getty Images