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This Modern Love: Angus & Julia

This brother sister duo had parted ways before Rick Rubin called them out of the blue and said he wanted to produce their next record…

When Angus and Julia Stone hear a beat they like they both sync up. Although they sway in opposite directions, without realizing they tend to converge back at the middle of the table, almost bumping elbows. It’s a very cute and casual interaction. They're closer than close having spent the past few months consistently in each other’s company and the best part of a decade making music together. And of course, they're siblings.

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For this Aussie pair there’s been nothing but positive vibes since they released their latest, third album, Angus and Julia Stone, this past August. In many ways the record is a classic cut from their canon—lush and dusky folk-pop that makes the most of the interplay between their two registers—but there’s an amplified confidence to their grooves. Also it’s been given the Rick Rubin seal of approval thanks to the music legend offering his services on production duties, a collaboration that was utterly unexpected.

“It was out of the blue,” recalls Angus. “We just made the decision to split and do our own projects and we were probably about a year into that when we got a call. It took about six months for us to sort of come to the decision to move to LA and live there and make a record.”

Whatever Rubin said to get the siblings to reconvene—perhaps he used that magical beard to hypnotize them—it worked. Angus and Julia reunited on the California coast, barefoot at Rubin’s famous Shangri La studio, and recorded their first LP together in three years. Without him none of the experiences from the past few years, good or bad, would now be immortalized in song. Take album opener “A Heartbeak” which delivers the red raw zinger: “I met your parents/They were lying about falling in love.” (Watch the video below.)

“Heartbreak is the beginning of so many realizations about who you are,” says Julia. “I feel like for me, in my life, I’ve really grown out of going through those experiences. Sometimes I’ll look back and go, ‘Fuck, before that happened, I wasn’t plugged in!’ And then this happens and you’re like oh, you’re awake. You feel alive and it’s raw and it’s real and it hurts, but you’re better for it.”

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There are plenty of stories for the two to catch up on and the new album was the perfect spot for Angus and Julia to meet in the middle again.

“Even though we didn’t have plans to get back together, meeting him [Rick] and getting to hang out, it felt like this is a situation where we can really grow and maybe do something together that we hadn’t done before,” says Julia. “That kind of idea was exciting—to try and write together, you know, to evolve from where we had been in the past.”

What they've produced as a trio has clearly struck a resonant chord: their imminent Stateside tour is completely sold out. If you don't have a ticket already, good luck. In the meantime, ahead of this month-long jaunt, we asked Angus and Julia a little about themselves for our segment This Modern Love. Is it weird to get a brother and sister to fill out a dating questionnaire together? Oh well, we did it anyway. If you’re into treehouses or just so happen to be Benedict Cumberbatch, please reach out. Maybe Rick’s bearded powers (and this call out) can work to bring Julia and Sherlock Holmes together forever!

Name/Age/Sexual Preference:
Angus Stone, 28, Reverse Cowgirl… [Laughs.] Girls.
Julia Stone, 30, and boys!

Self-Summary:
Angus: I love drinking beer on a summer’s day, a cold beer from the tap. Kicking it under an umbrella in the sun. Going for a swim in the arctic cold water here in NY and in Los Angeles. I like fishing. I like going out on boats and going right out and sitting out there and hanging. Skating.

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Julia: I like days doing nothing. I really like home days. I’m a big Sunday girl. I love reading and lying in bed all day and I like cooking, so I think I would really like somebody that enjoys food. My favorite thing to do in Australia is to do walks because there are so many lovely places to walk. Just walking in nature, hiking… we don’t call it hiking, but just so you guys can understand!

What am I doing with my life:
Julia: I would like to think what I’m doing right now is I’m building a skill set, like I’m really developing my crocheting and reading a lot and my knowledge of movies is getting great because I watch a lot of movies on the bus, so I’m in development mode.

Angus: Treating every new experience as something like nothing before is the same and then that helps me be in the moment.

I'm really good at:
Angus: I’m good at sleeping in.

Julia: I can make really amazing coconut macaroons.

Favorite books:
Angus: I’ve got a lot of books on how to build treehouses. I can’t remember the authors and stuff of them, but I read a whole pile of them at home and I just sort of sit there and daydream on the couch and read them.

Julia: I really like a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver called Call If You Need Me. It’s really beautiful. It has a section in the middle where he talks about the art of writing fiction and short stories and what it means to him and it really changed my perspective on creativity just reading the way he expressed himself. I’m also very much into Sherlock Holmes. I’ve watched the whole seasons of the TV series two times! I love Benedict!

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Angus: Is he in the TV series?

Julia: Yeah, he’s Sherlock. Maybe he’ll read my dating app!

Noisey: We’ll hopefully get you hooked up with Benedict Cumberbatch.

Julia: That would be amazing!

Normally we ask what are your favorite albums, but what’s your favorite Rick Rubin produced album?
Julia: I downloaded the Johnny Cash record that he made and it’s really, really incredible. There are some incredible tracks on there and I really like how Rick just stripped it right back and it’s just mostly him and his voice. It’s really lovely. I actually thought that is what Rick was going to do with us.

Angus: I bought an old car when we were making the record just to sort of feel more at home. Anyway, I downloaded a lot of records that Rick had produced and on the way to Shangri La I listened to them. I used to listen to the Beastie Boys when I was skating a lot as a kid, but when it came back on the stereo I was like this stuff is fucking rad.

I spend a lot of time thinking about:
Julia: I spend a lot of time thinking about how long I’d survive if I went into the bush like just with a backpack full of tuna. I sometimes think I wonder if I can really do it Bear Grylls style and just live out there. Could I live there months?

Angus: Did you say tuna? Like tuna?

Julia: Just like tins of protein. You’ve got to have something to start off with.

Angus: I’d stab holes in them so by the time you’re into your second day all the bears would be in your campsite.

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Julia: All the oil from the cans is just leaking out as I’m walking out of there.

Angus: And then I’d get 50% of all record sales! That’s all I think about!

Julia: I mean when I say I think about that a lot, I mean I think about that like once or twice a month. I don’t have regular reoccurring thoughts about anything, I think? Actually, where I’m having breakfast is a common concern. Where is there good coffee and breakfast?

Angus: What I’ve been thinking about lately is I’ve got a lake on my property back home and I want to build a little cabana down there. I dumped like four tons of sand. I’ve already got the sand there. There’s a little palm tree. I’ve got my own little beach and I’ve just sort of been thinking about the cabana bar and how it’s going to come together.

The most private thing I’m willing to admit is…
Julia: I’d just like to be the kind who doesn’t care what anyone thinks about me, well this is what I’ve done, so here you go, but I’m not. Actually, my little finger stopped growing when I was about twelve or something, so it was like shorter than the rest of my fingers. They’re the same size, but there’s not really a knuckle there. So, when I play piano I use this finger. [Julia holds up her ring finger.]

On a typical Friday night I am:
Julia: I’m usually playing a show. If not, I am at the wine bar down the road. It’s amazing. It’s kind of like this old ship. They have these sails that create an air conditioning system and you sit in there and they have incredible jazz music. Everyone packs in there because it’s tiny and they have the most extraordinary musicians come in just because it’s such an iconic place.

Angus: I’ve got a little social club with a pool table, a bar, and a keg. I just get a big bunch of friends and go up on the hill and there’s a trampoline and barbeque. And then… skinny dipping!

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES
10/06 - House of Blues - San Diego, CA – SOLD OUT
10/07 - The Regent - Los Angeles, CA – SOLD OUT
10/08 - The Independent - San Francisco, CA – SOLD OUT
10/10 - Vogue Theatre - Vancouver, BC – SOLD OUT
10/11 - Aladdin Theater - Portland, OR – SOLD OUT
10/12 - Neumos - Seattle, WA – SOLD OUT
10/14 - Urban Lounge - Salt Lake City, UT – SOLD OUT
10/15 - Gothic Theatre - Englewood, CO – SOLD OUT
10/17 - Majestic Theatre - Madison, WI – SOLD OUT
10/18 - Cedar Cultural Center - Minneapolis, MN – SOLD OUT
10/19 - Lincoln Hall - Chicago, IL – SOLD OUT
10/21 - Opera House - Toronto, ON – SOLD OUT
10/22 - Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre - Montreal, QC – SOLD OUT
10/23 - The Sinclair - Cambridge, MA – SOLD OUT
10/25 - Sixth & I Historic Synagogue - Washington, DC – SOLD OUT
10/27 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, NY – SOLD OUT
10/28 - Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY – SOLD OUT
10/29 - Union Transfer - Philadelphia, PA – SOLD OUT

Sarina's not working at the office any more cos she had to go back to school and we miss her. But she is on Twitter - @Sarinagoodblood.