Larry Heath talks to Julia Stone about her solo work – the band, touring and her influences throughout the production of her latest record, By The Horns.
Well welcome back, you’ve come just in time for this lovely winter [laughs]
I know, but do you know what, I’m actually am a bit of a fan of winter, I do enjoy the cold much more than the hot for me.
Then you certainly have picked the best time of year to be here!
I know, I know, I’m so lucky it’s the endless winter, I’ve just come from Europe winter. Well it wasn’t really winter I guess, it was February, but it was pretty bloody cold. I’m following the frost around the world.
Yeah I was over there last month and it was still pretty damn cold.
Yeah right… where did you go?
I was over for The Great Escape, so I was in Brighton and Liverpool and London.
Aw I was there then.
Oh were you? Did you go to The Great Escape? Did you see a bit of music?
I didn’t go to The Great Escape but I was in London the weekend it was on. I just got back from I think Paris show, we had a show in London maybe the night before The Great Escape started.
It’s always a very exciting time to be over there, that’s for sure.
Yeah it’s a great festival, I love going down to Brighton.
And we actually had a day of sunshine as well, can you believe it?
[laughs] I know we were very lucky.
Well welcome back, of course you played your first show in quite a while in Sydney on Wednesday night. How did that go?
It was really fun, it was actually a really fun night. I mean it was such a beautiful venue, it was in the big old woman’s prison in the National Arts School there, so it’s the high ceilings and just was lovely to have a grand piano in there and have all the lights hanging, it was really pretty and then as well, just to play in Sydney it was very exciting. It was friends from school and my family and the people I’ve worked with and worked on videos and stuff like that. All being there, and being supportive and lovely, it was a lot of fun.
And for the band that you’ve got together, because obviously you worked with quite a lot of musicians on the record, who do you have in your band at the moment for the tour?
Well it’s been different, the one I was playing in Europe one of the producers Thomas Bartlett, he was on the road with me through Europe and the US, so I had him on keys and then I had his friend Sam Amedan, who is out of this world, amazing on banjo and then had a great drummer Chris Budalaro and then I the guy who played bass on some of the record, Josh. And when I got to the US I switched it up and I had Thomas and still Sam and Josh and then Hannah the girl who plays… on the record and also had a different drummer.
The Australian show was a whole new thing, I rehearsed with then down in Melbourne and Ross Irwin on trumpet and he plays with the Cat Empire boys and he pulled together the band, with Ben Edgar on banjo and electric guitar. He plays with Gotye and is off the tour with Gotye at the moment, so I was so lucky I got to play with him for a couple of nights. Al on fiddle and bass, Danny on drums and then my dear friend Jane on backing vocals. Yeah they’re all amazing, I’ve had the best, best band, it’s so good.
I’ve been reading a lot about how you said the National influence the album and I was wondering if Coachella played a role in that because I know you were both on the line-up there?
Ah I don’t think I actually saw the National play in Coachella. I mean I’ve seen them play a lot of times, when we were touring Europe doing festivals last year with Down The Way, we played maybe five festivals the same as what they were playing. I saw them play a lot and I think they’re great, they’re so great live. And that’s how I sort of met Thomas. We were playing the festival just outside of London and I was already a fan of Thomas’ music and he was there with the guys, he was just going to get up and play with them, he didn’t actually tour with them, he just played on the record. Anyway we ended up hanging out that night and he’s like, ‘you’ve got to check out this band that I’ve collaborated with, they’re cool’ and he took me to see National in this big circus tent thing and it was so cool, like wow these guys are great! It was a really lovely night. And then anyway, I guess I sort of from then on, I didn’t really get into them in a big way for kind of a while. I sort of listened to the record every now and then. I guess I would say I love their music because I’ve seen it live a lot, I think it’s a really good live show. And I think the record is amazing as well.
It certainly is. I guess it’s the one that broke them internationally, I mean you get to your sixth or seventh album or something like that and finally hit that mark.
Yeah it’s pretty cool, it’s very exciting because it is such great music and with something like that that goes massive, it’s really nice to know that the world gets to hear it.
And you know, between your two records, obviously you were working with Angus a lot and how do you feel you’ve grown as a solo artist in that couple of years between the records?
I guess musically because of the nature of time and playing more and playing lots of shows, at the time we were more confident being in the studio and feeling comfortable in that environment and not being so overwhelmed by recording. And I think that’s the biggest thing of all, as an artist, being not so judgemental or critical of myself and feeling like it doesn’t really matter how it turns out because in the end nothing really matters you know. And having that attitude in general and starting to accept myself and accept that life is complicated and beautiful and fun. It takes you down paths that you don’t plan to go down and I guess having that same attitude about my personal life and then about coming to creating music and being in the studio, it gives a freedom that I don’t think I’ve had in the past. I think I’ve been very self critical to the point where it’s very difficult to be expressive in the studio in a free way. And I still have elements about that it like with growing up, I feel the older I get, the more life should be this random mix of beauty and pain. [laughs]
And I’m sure that mix comes through you lyrically as well.
Yeah I think that happens as well. I mean a lot of the songs, sometimes when I’ve been doing these shows I notice certain… because once I’ve recorded the record, and I think this has always been the case for myself and with Angus, I don’t go back and listen to it, once it’s done that’s it, I don’t go back and listen to it over and over and go, ‘god it’s really amazing or god it’s really shit’ I just kind of let it go. But then I noticed certain things that I keep saying in my lyrics, and it’s funny because I didn’t notice I was doing that until playing the shows and then I’d go, ‘oh okay so this is a lyrical kind of theme that I’d never noticed. And one of those things is the indecisiveness, the dance between, ‘this is going on.. no this is not what’s going on’ I can hear myself saying these things, like, ‘I’m here, I’m not here’. I don’t know it’s just kind of my own experience and perception of being a human, it is really changeable and just moving so quickly backwards and forwards and I think that comes through in the music. That unknown element and that feeling of really acknowledging that I have no idea what is going on. [laughs]
Just like everyone else!
Maybe I mean some people seem to have a clear idea, I think I use to think I have some kind of idea, then the older I get I’m really okay and more comfortable in admitting that I have no idea.
Well that can’t be a bad thing. And looking forward to the year ahead, you’ve got the tour in September but what else will the year be holding for you?
I don’t know exactly, I think I’m going to go over to Europe to tour, I got some e-mail the other day about a potential tour in Europe and the UK, so I guess I’ll be over there for a bit. And then I’m going to come back to Australia maybe for Christmas, because I haven’t done Christmas at home for maybe three years now, so I thought I’d maybe do that this year. But I don’t know, with all the in-betweens I’m not sure exactly, I guess touring is probably, usually what ends up happening.
Keeps the head afloat!
I don’t know what to do when I’m not touring, I really love being on stage, I think I’ll probably end up in Europe and the UK and then maybe go to the US and do a November tour, and then come back here for summer festivals hopefully and then see if that takes us to next year.
Well we look forward to seeing what happens for the rest of the year, can’t wait to see you in September and enjoy the winter, it should be a cold one.
[laughs] Thankyou I’m very excited.
Thankyou so much for your time Julia.
No worries, take care!
Julia Stone's new album By The Horns is in stores now.
NATIONAL TOUR DATES - TICKETS ON SALE NOW.
Thu Sept 6
Theatre Royal, Castlemaine VIC
www.theatreroyal.info/html / 03 5472 1196
Fri Sept 7
Forum Theatre, Melbourne VIC
www.ticketmaster.com.au / 136 100
Sat Sept 8
Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan VIC
http://lyrebirdartscouncil.com.au /03 5664 9239
Wed Sept 12
The Abbey, Canberra ACT
www.theabbey.com.au / 02 6230 2905
Thu Sept 13
Lizotte’s, Newcastle NSW
www.newcastle.lizottes.com.au/live / 02 4956 2066
Sat Sept 15
The Metro, Sydney NSW
www.metrotheatre.com.au / 02 9550 3666
Wed Sept 19 & Thu Sept 20
The Courier Mail Spiegeltent, Brisbane Festival QLD
Fri Sept 21
Community Centre, Byron Bay NSW
www.byroncentre.com.au / 02 6685 6807
Sun Sept 23
Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns QLD *please note amended date
www.ticketlink.com.au / 1300 855 835
Fri Sept 28
Astor Theatre, Perth WA
www.bocsticketing.com.au / 08 9484 1133
Sun Sept 30
Bird In Hand Winery, Adelaide SA
www.birdinhand.com.au/concerts / 08 8389 9488