Australian sibling indie folk duo Angus & Julia Stone have a relationship that stretches beyond just family, or even their professional musical partnership for that matter.
The Stones are friends by choice and go-to travel mates; they genuinely enjoy each other’s company, let alone the time they spend making music together. Since their first EP Chocolates and Cigarettes in 2006, the brother-sister pair have produced hits like “Big Jet Plane,” “Heart Beats Slow” and most recently, “Snow,” the title track off their fourth studio album. “Snow has been quite a journey for me and Angus,” vocalist Julia says. “We were about to throw in the towel and not work together anymore after our first two records.”
The pair had been on the road for about seven years before they reached a point where they felt as though they were at a creative standstill. “When we met up with [producer] Rick Rubin [for our third album in 2014], it was so inspiring and such an amazing experience for us. We started writing and had so many creative conversations, it felt interesting and exciting again,” Julia, the team’s vocalist, says. Following their third self-titled album, the duo sat down and wrote the entirety of their fourth album together, which was a first for them, and felt a new sense of invigoration. “It felt like we were finally in a place that we have always wanted to get to. After 11 years we’re still hanging out and we still love each other. It’s super exciting for us,” Julia adds.
Snow was created at a studio on Angus’s farm in Australia where the pair enjoyed the ease of living and working together for months. “We just started making sounds and it naturally evolved into this record. We had a lot of good mates come around to play music with us and it slowly turned into an album,” Julia says of the album’s organic progression into reality. With complete freedom on the property, Julia says that for four months they were able to self-produce Snow with no outside stresses or pressures, a luxury that allowed them to return to their musical roots. From going for an afternoon walk to an impromptu jam session that lasted for a few hours (and more), the days were at their leisure. Nature, it seems, served as a proper backdrop for their creative process.
The title track was even inspired by a ten-day trip to Vermont, where the pair spent their time snowboarding and hiking in a winter wonderland. “We knew that making a record would be an investment. It’d be another two years on the road but in that moment [in Vermont] we knew we were ready to do it. We were ready to do this crazy life again,” Julia says. Deciding to create music and head back onto the road wasn’t the easiest decision to make, but Julia admits that being able to do it with her brother gives her a great sense of comfort and familiarity.
“There’s a kind of language and understanding because you’ve grown up with the same parents and I think because of that there’s a sense of comfort,” she says. “You know what’s going on with the other person and they know what’s going on with you without having to spell it out. There’s a real sense of freedom in that.” Julia shares that of course there are always challenges when mixing family dynamics and business, but at this point in their career, the two siblings have a solid sense of shared history and their relationship has made creating music all the easier. “We aren’t just seeing each other on Christmas because we feel obligated to. We’ve evolved into friends and it’s a good feeling,” she says. Watch the duo’s newest video for “Chateau” below.
You can catch this brother-sister duo on tour promoting their self-produced album Snow in Europe this fall followed by dates in North America.