Julia Stone playing with Angus at the 2010 Splendour in the Grass festival.
Julia Stone playing with Angus at the 2010 Splendour in the Grass festival. Jay Cronan

Happiness, success and writing solo

AFTER six years touring with her brother, Julia Stone has taken her solo career By The Horns.

When Pulse gets the chance to talk to one of the sweetest singer-songwriters in Aussie-folk, she's enjoying some time in a friend's cabin north of Sydney.

Unfortunately, the call has interrupted her in the middle of writing a song.

"No, that's ok," Stone laughs down the line as I apologise.

"It was totally ... I don't know where it was going.

"I was hanging out with a friend of mine last night and he was saying to me - because I was playing him a new song that I wrote and it was kind of a happy one - which is pretty rare for me to be totally optimistic in a song, and he said 'why don't you write another happy song?', and so I said I would write one tomorrow.

"It's not like me to write a happy song, but it's good to try."

Stone released her second solo album away from the successful sibling duo, Angus and Julia Stone, in May.

The album, By The Horns, peaked at 11 on the ARIA charts, but commercial success isn't something on Stone's radar.

"The response I get from the music, I can only really perceive it when I'm playing the shows and the shows I've done so far have been really fun and really cool," she says.

"There's a lot of good feelings around it (the album), I mean for me personally, and then from playing with the new band - they're just amazing and the audiences have been incredible.

"It's been a really fun six months going out and starting to promote this record because it's been a whole other thing to what I was doing with Angus.

"It feels good for me personally. I don't know how many records I've sold or whether people hate it. I don't know I don't get involved."

Stone's first solo album came as a surprise to everyone, including her record label.

But the second was a result of the siblings heading in different directions.

There is an album worth of Angus and Julia songs on a hard drive somewhere, but it's unlikely to reach public ears any time soon.

Stone says it would be like moving backwards for both she and Angus, because you always enjoy building on what you've done before.

Ultimately, there is nothing that sets the songs on the solo release aside from those recorded with Angus, she tells Pulse.

"All of these songs that are on By The Horns, if they were produced in a different way or if I was in the studio with Angus, they could have ended up on an Angus and Julia record.

"By The Horns - Angus and I used to play live in our sets.

"I think if we had gone on to make another record I would have recorded it in a totally different style.

"I would have played it on the mandolin and done it in a ... it would be a quieter song, potentially.

"The songwriting doesn't change. I guess for this record, what makes it different is just working in the studio, working with different producers and different people on the record."

The songs she's writing now, Stone says, are more likely for another solo release.

Although she did giggle at the question.

Julia Stone is playing at the Byron Community Centre on September 21. Tickets have sold out.

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