Angus Stone first garnered attention as one half of wildly successful folk duo Angus & Julia Stone. With smoky and confident vocals complementing his sister’s ethereal style, their debut album A Bood Like This was critically acclaimed in 2007 with 2010’2 Down The Way debuting at #1 on the ARIA charts. Angus had a stint working on solo projects, including under the pseudonym Lady of the Sunshine before a third album with his sister in 2014. Dope Lemon is his new project, with a brand new EP under their belt and we’ll see Angus and his band visit the Gold Coast for Bleach* Festival next month.
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Dope Lemon’s first EP Honey Bones has been celebrated by critics as Angus Stone’s most accomplished endeavour to date. If you haven’t heard it you might be surprised at how different it is to his work in Angus & Julia Stone. Two of the album’s singles Marinade and Uptown Folks made it into triple j’s Hottest 100 and the outfit sold out their national headline tour.
Angus speaks to Blank Gold Coast from his farm in northern NSW. It’s only been a year since he announced his Dope Lemon project and he says it’s been “really good.”
“Triple j were really supportive, they took it on and featured it, we got onto high rotation and there were playing it a lot,” he said. “The fans were really stoked. I didn’t really know what was going to happen – I had this music and I wanted to release it and got together with record company and yeah, we put it all together and just sent it out.”
“It’s sort of out of your hands whether people will connect with it or not,” he said of any new music project he rolls out.
“I sort of approach music in the way that what I write is just what I’m doing. If people want to come along for the ride, that’s great.”
Angus said Dope Lemon attracts a different crowd to things he’s released in the past and naturally attributes that to the music.
“It’s a bit more psych to what I’ve released before and there’s more looseness to the crowd. It’s a bit more of a party for us, and they’re all mates on stage, guys I’ve grown up with, so it’s cool in that way,” Angus said.
That concept of mateship – on and off the stage – comes through pretty clear in Dope Lemon’s songs. Their first record saw Angus and his collaborators rent a house on the beach, set up a little studio and literally push record.
“We jammed and drank beers and yeah, just let it all unfold really naturally and recorded everything,” he explained. “At a later stage, we went back through, looked at all the jams and pieced together a record from it.”
It’s obvious that communal process of making music is an environment which Angus Stone both enjoys and thrives in. The tracks on that first album Honey Bones list co-writers Rohin Brown (The Walking Who) and Elliott Hammond (The Delta Riggs) as well as a song recorded on a whim in New York City.
“All those guys, I respect all the projects they work on and who they are as people. And growing up with them also is a big part of it – we’ve got that history. When it comes to all sitting down – there’s a cool thing that comes with history. You don’t have to talk about how things are supposed to be done. It just happens,” he said.
That format is something they built on for the new EP Hounds Tooth.
“The songs were recorded in the same situation, but with a different crew,” he said. “We were rehearsing for the Dope Lemon Honey Bones tour and just pressed record and captured great stuff again and got an EP out of it.”
The first taste of Hounds Tooth comes with cheery vibration, horns and a decent dose of 1950’s South American funk in the form of lead single Home Soon. And that sets the tone for the rest of the album with swarms of notes buzzing and sounds melting you can hear the jams that brought this latest offering to life.
Dope Lemon is the perfect place for Angus Stone to be right now and the upcoming tour is one not to be missed.
“We’ve been adjusting our set and we feel like it’s in a really great place,” Angus told Blank Gold Coast. “We’re just stoked to play shows. We just want to get out on the road and share what we’ve done – it’ll be good fun.”
Dope Lemon is at Bleach* Festival with Ash Grunwald, Tia Gostelow and Emily Wurramara for Saltwater Sessions, Coolangatta on 1 April.
Image (c) The James Adams