First published on 10 Aug 2012. Updated on 25 Feb 2014.
Julia Stone’s is a restless voice – even off stage, she’s prone to showing off her gift. During her photo shoot for Time Out, Stone serenades an almost-empty room with Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘They Can’t Take that Away from Me’ and Nat King Cole’s ‘Love Was Made for Me and You’. Her hair is tousled, her nail polish is chipped and when we ask (a little nervously) why she sings during a usually quiet shoot, Stone just smiles. “Singing becomes a way of stabilising,” she says, “It’s like it doesn’t matter where I am in the world, I can [still] sing.”
Fortunately for Stone, she has plenty of reasons to be singing lately. The Northern Beaches lass is back on home turf after some serious international stage-hopping and heading on a national tour to promote her second solo album, By the Horns. The folk-pop singer-songwriter recently completed an international tour including shows in New York, LA, London and Paris after recording the new album in New York, earlier this year.
While her biggest success has been with brother Angus and a small song you might have heard called ‘Big Jet Plane’, the perma-singing Stone says she is first and foremost a solo artist. “In a way, what we did was always two solo artists working together,” she tells Time Out. “He wrote his songs, I wrote my songs. So it’s not such a strange transition.”
The ethereal, whispery sounds of her latest work may seem familiar, but she's intent on being an artist in her own right. “I think we both really wanted to feel what it was like to be without each other. I find myself talking about Angus a lot, but it’s only natural, we spent the last six years touring and making records together. When it comes to us collaborating again, I think we both know in our hearts that we will, but it’s not ever talked about.”
Stone has been working closely with musician and producer Thomas Bartlett, also known as Dovemanm who’s worked with the National and Glen Hansard. Bartlett co-produced By The Horns along with Grammy-award winning producer Patrick Dillett. “Collaborating with Thomas was a dream of mine,” says Stone. The musicians met a few years prior, after Julia saw Bartlett play with Martha Wainwright. “I remember thinking, ‘Gosh, he’s so magical.’”
Bartlett was the one who introduced Stone to the National’s music; he suggested she cover one of the band’s tracks as part of his Burgundy Stain Sessions at New York multimedia art cabaret space Le Poisson Rouge. “I chose ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, rehearsed it with the band and played it that night at the gig. Then, when we got into the studio, the first song you record, you want it to be good, you want everyone to feel comfortable”. So, including The National’s ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ on the album was just a happy accident. “Most people assume it’s not an accident… but it totally was. It was the first thing we recorded and by the end, we all felt like ‘that was really beautiful, let’s keep it on there’.”