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Home Is Wherever the Music Is for Angus & Julia Stone

Almost two decades into their career as a duo, Angus & Julia Stone returned to their roots for their sixth album 'Cape Forestier'

In the fickle world of music, where trends tend to wax and wane like the tides, one Australian sibling duo has steadfastly stood the test of time. For almost two decades, Angus & Julia Stone have enchanted fans with their folk melodies, poetic lyrics, and soul-stirring performances, captivating audiences around the globe. 

The story of Angus & Julia Stone began in the idyllic surroundings of their childhood home on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where music was not just a hobby but a way of life. Raised by folk musician parents, the siblings were immersed in a tapestry of sound from an early age. It was in this nurturing environment that they first discovered their love of music, picking up instruments and penning their own songs as teenagers.

Critics and audiences were captivated by the duo’s flair for weaving intricate melodies with poignant storytelling with the release of their debut EPs, Chocolates & Cigarettes and Heart Full of Wine, in 2006.

In many ways, Angus & Julia Stone are bringing us back to where it all began with their sixth album, Cape Forestier. Named after a beloved boat that has played a significant role in their lives, Cape Forestier represents a return to their roots, both musically and thematically.

“I guess it was a beautiful representation when we wrote the song of the journey we’ve been on, with this old fishing trawler that just takes you into the wildest weather,” Angus says. “One of our trips was so wild with these storms raging, and it just chugs through, so steady. It feels a little bit like the journey we’ve been on, so we wanted to acknowledge that.”

After three years working on their respective solo projects ­— which saw Angus cap off 2023 touring his DOPE LEMON project supporting Post Malone — coming back to work together was a full circle moment.

“There’s an authenticity to having that time away and discovering what it is you’re looking for when you write a song,” Angus reflects. “That “coming home” feeling is what this recording represents for us – heading back to the garage and recording in the living room. We want to bring people into that space, which is what the tour has been set up to be.”

The essence of being cosied up at home is far from the reality of the recording process, Julia explains, as the duo’s hectic work schedules meant studio time was at a premium.

“When we got to the end of recording, we had some time together at Angus’s home and his studio — which is where a lot of the artwork is from — and we had finished most of it, but we had a few backing vocals and things like that we needed to record,” she says. “At that stage, Angus was in the US with DOPE LEMON, and I was in Berlin working over there. Angus had his little portable recording studio that he took with him into hotel rooms and would pick up bits that needed to be done; we ended up writing a list of all the places it was recorded in and it’s like, Nashville and Houston and Utah.”

Creating a sense of “home” no matter where one is, Julia muses, is somewhat reflective of an expat lifestyle.

“There’s ‘home’ where you grew up and then there’s the ‘home’ that you’ve made wherever that place is that you’ve moved to, and you are always a little bit between those places,” she says. “I think because we’ve had such a fractured life in so many different places — the time we lived in LA for four years, the time we lived in London, New York, Melbourne, Byron, Sydney — now home is movement and change and music.”

Angus has found a new home, with a home studio, tucked away in the hinterland of the Northern Rivers. It was here the siblings put the finishing touches on Cape Forestier‘s production, with guitarist Ben Edgar co-producing three of the tracks. 

The energy of this new space, called Sugarcane Mountain Studios, is powerful, according to Angus, and possesses a special kind of magic (and a funky old smell). 

“It’s a big, old, beautiful 1970s mansion and nothing has been touched,” he explains, likening the experience of first visiting your grandparents’ friend’s place as a child with “the funky carpet and a garage with two old cars that don’t get driven that they’re all really proud of.”

“Basically, the old folks that lived there passed away and the family that came into its ownership just left it, and it was just this beautiful time capsule. [There’s] something about that when you walk in it… I don’t know, you have a sense of a different world.”

That world is almost Jurassic Park, Julia jokes, recalling their drummer witnessing a black cockatoo drop a water dragon into Angus’s pool during a recent rehearsal at the property. “Each record has had its own nature influence, and definitely Sugarcane Mountain [Studios] has infused into this record; that’s why we also wanted to use the wallpaper and carpet and stuff for the album artwork, because it is such a part of the sound and the record.”

Some of the tracks on this album are decades old, the duo reveal. 

“’Down to the Sea’ was one of those songs that was an older track that was written just after ‘Down the Way’,” Julia says. “It wasn’t right back then. The way that we had been playing it, it wasn’t complete, or I don’t know, it just wasn’t the time. It wouldn’t have made sense on ‘Snow’ or ‘Life Is Strange’, but when we started jamming on it now, it was like, ‘Oh, this is the right time for this song.’”

Angus adds that “No Boat No Aeroplane” was probably one of the first songs he ever wrote, around the age of 16. “I remember I used to go to open mic nights and play it, and it always felt really good but I never recorded it… the time came for this record, and it was going back to what it was when we started in the living room.”

Listening back to Chocolates & Cigarettes now, almost two decades after they recorded it in their father’s living room, both Angus and Julia appreciate the innocence of their former selves.

“You can’t pretend to be innocent when you’re not anymore — that’s the beauty of growing and change, and doing it in a public way, I suppose, through something like music, you have these literal records marking your growth as a human and the things you’re going through and how your understanding of the world is evolving and changing,” Julia says.

“So, we have that sort of approach to making this record, in terms of the production and wanting to keep the songs quite direct and simple in the storytelling, but we’ve got all of these years of doing things and having experiences in there as well. So yeah, it could never be what it was, but in a way it’s so special because it represents where we’re at now.”

 Angus & Julia Stone’s Cape Forestier is out now via Sony Music Australia.

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