Julia Stone had her first guitar lesson at 19, from her younger brother Angus, then 17. “I hadn’t really cared about music or being a singer until that moment,” she says. “All I cared about was my boyfriend and travelling and adventure. But that was the beginning of the end.”
As she remembers the moment, she air-strums the guitar riff from the first song Angus taught her, Ben Harper’s Walk Away. Beside her, Angus takes up his own air guitar and corrects Julia’s technique. The pair crack up – it’s obviously a longstanding inside joke. “Still teaching me,” Julia says.
That first lesson was the beginning of a musical partnership that garnered ARIA Awards for best single and best album in 2010. Their song Big Jet Plane rocketed to top spot on Triple J’s Hottest 100 in 2011. There were successful tours across Australia, Europe and North America.
The combination of the siblings’ distinct songwriting styles made for captivating listening on their first two records, A Book Like This andDown the Way: Julia’s serene, often lovelorn cooing floated somewhere over Angus’s scruffy popcraft.
In person the differences are just as pronounced; Angus with bushranger beard, dirt bike T-shirt and baggy jeans, Julia in heart-adorned dress and sparkly gold shoes with bejewelled fingers.
She sits cross-legged and at attention except when she gets up to close the blinds in the room. Occasionally she helps coax words out of her chronically laid-back brother. Angus swivels his seat away from the conversation. He is at his most animated when the conversation steers towards the nitty-gritty of music making. The two look mostly at each other, checking stories, corroborating evidence, going through a wide vocabulary of silent exchanges.
To read the full story, visit the Sydney Morning Herald.