As part of the Governors Ball music festival in New York City last month, Indie Shuffle sat down to chat with Angus Stone, one half of the Australian indie folk duo Angus & Julia Stone.
Known for his quiet and laid back demeanor, Angus was candid in talking about New York City, why he and his sister Julia made another record together, and what he personally got out of working with the legendary music producer Rick Rubin.
Read more of what Angus had to say:
Congratulations on playing at Governors Ball last weekend - New York City's largest music festival. How was your Governors Ball experience? What does this city mean to you?
It was pretty amazing! We didn’t really know what to expect coming here. At first I thought it was going to be a ball where everyone would be in fancy garments and spinning themselves around! But it was cool. We were on a really decent stage and got to play while the sun was setting.
I have spent a lot of time here in New York. Over the last 10 years I’ve been coming back and forth. When I first came to New York I didn’t really understand what it was about and I didn’t understand it like I do now. It’s a place that I’d actually like to be in more often. I get it now and I like the interactions you get with people in such a dense and unique space.
It's awesome that you made another album with your sister Julia. The obvious question for me to ask, and one I'm sure you get a lot, is why did you and Julia make another record together? By the way, we're really glad that you did!
Oh cool, yeah thanks! Julia and I had decided to go our own way but with the thought that we would probably get back together and make another folk record when we were older. We probably didn’t think it would happen as soon as it did, but a big part of us getting back together was Rick Rubin.
Rick reached out and offered to work with us both on another record. The offer to work with him was something that we couldn’t really turn down. Rick told us when we first met with him that we probably hadn’t yet made the record together that we were supposed to. Maybe he was right? This record is something we’re glad we did together and are both really proud of now.
Speaking of Rick Rubin, he is one of the most prominent music producers in the world. He's an industry veteran with legendary status. Given his caliber and experience, what did you personally get out of working so closely with him?
He was just a really good guy and really genuine. And it’s a bonus that he’s an awesome guy to be around. The way that he talked around and about music, even the way he moved, was really inspiring to me.
A big part of what Rick brought to this album was the musicians he chose for us to work with. He brought together an interesting alchemy of musicians for us to play with. And some cool things happened from that. Now when we tour, we tour with these guys, and it’s a whole new feeling we have up on stage.
I understand this latest album was a more collaborative approach between yourself and Julia, particularly in terms of the music-making process. Why was it different this time around?
It was clear to us that something about our music-making process had to change. In the past it was always really separate. I’d bring songs that I wrote and Julia would bring songs that she wrote, we put them on the table and then start collaborating.
Julia and I flew into L.A. after making the decision to work with Rick and to make another album together. So right from the start we wanted to have a more togetherness to this record. I think it comes through in the sound of the record as well -- that collaboration and togetherness.
Australian music fans adore your work and have practically grown up with you both as a duo and your individual acts. But you're not as well known in the US. How have you gone about boosting your profile and exposing your work to other audiences?
Julia and I knew right from the beginning that we wanted to travel and to share our music as widely as possible, not just within Australia with our Australian fans. We’ve always traveled and done shows to expose our stuff as widely as possible.
When you put yourself out there more, more people end up hearing about us and hearing our work. It’s great because it feels like the rest of the world is now catching up. Playing at events like Governors Ball and working with Rick has been a big part of our songs being exposed to a lot more people. I think the better exposure comes down to lots of different things combined. And a fair bit of luck!
How are you playing out the rest of the northern hemisphere summer? What are you most excited about that’s coming up?
We’re going to some amazing places like India, South America, and Lebanon. We’re doing some wild shit, hey! I’m excited for that. We’re playing a bunch of summer festivals around Europe and then back to Australia towards the end of the year. So we have a big run coming up!
Part of me would love to spend more time here in New York but I’m also excited for the travel and to get our music out there even more.
If you weren’t here in New York City right now, where would you like to be?
Hmm, I love New York, it’s amazing! If I couldn’t be here right now I’d probably be back in Australia on the farm that I have.
I’ve been setting it up from scratch -- I mean, it even needed the basics and a solid infrastructure. I have cattle on there now but there was no electricity or water or roads when I first moved there.
It’s great because I’ve been building it up in such a way so that I draw up the plans and then source all the materials myself. I’ve been building cabins around the property and putting in fun stuff, even a golf course.
It’s a great blank canvas to work with and wonderful to build something solid myself and from the ground up.