More powerful than hate: Why Angus and Julia Stone play in aftermath of tragedies

Angus and Julia Stone.
Angus and Julia Stone. Photo credit: Supplied

Finding strength through adversity is a challenge Angus and Julia Stone have faced at both a personal and public level as an indie-folk brother-sister act.

The siblings performed across two nights at the end of March in New Plymouth and Nelson, a little over a week after the Christchurch terror attack.

Julia said it made them reflect on whether it would be disrespectful to take to the stage so soon after the tragedy.

 "Angus and I sat and talked about it because it's a horrifying thing," she told Newshub. "It's in everybody's minds and in everybody's hearts."

"We both have the same feeling of 'no, it's important to keep reminding each other and everybody there's something more important and powerful than hate'."

Playing to an audience dealing with the wake of horror was not new to the Sydney-born musicians, who were touring Europe a month after the Paris attacks.

With a large following throughout France, they decided to use the good of music to bring joy to people who needed it and counter the intent of those determined to instil terror.

"It's something that brings a lot of tranquillity, and connects people in this really beautiful way, and provides some sort of space where people can come together to celebrate the very opposite of end of hate and racism and instead connectedness and love and beauty."

Angus and Julia Stone
Angus and Julia Stone. Photo credit: Supplied

Between themselves the Stones have had to work through "confronting" issues, at times having to have uncomfortable conversations around continuing their careers as one.

Julia explained Angus and she are unified and very connected because of their past and music but it doesn't exempt them from coming up against hard times.

"Of course any family relationship comes with history and challenges, and those are the ones that have been the most confronting for us.

"We've had to address things that haven't been easy to look at or to think about. They're the ones that have been the moments in time where we've gone, 'maybe we should do our own thing', 'maybe we should take a proper break from this', and amazingly again, in times like that, we have walked our own path away from each other and something has pushed us back together.

"We can keep on growing and we can keep on loving each other better and I think that's been really healing for our whole family because if we didn't have the music, we'd see each other at Christmas and say 'g'day', and that would be that but instead this deep understanding."

In 2014 a record with Rick Rubin reunified the pair after taking a break from recording together.

"It was a huge thing for us because we had decided to stop playing music together, it was a challenging time but he pushed us back together and we had to really talk about what needed to change and how we needed to be with each other, and it made us closer."

The pair initially moved to combine their individual unique abilities back in 2005 after realising while living together how they complimented one another, each adding another element to the other's performance.

They didn't start with a big dream of being 'Angus and Julia', instead playing open-mic nights and weddings both really passionate about writing songs.

"It felt like a very gradual thing, it didn't feel like there was some big dream, it just felt like the natural path to follow."

 A manager came on board, proposing to take half of her music and half of Angus' to put out as a duo.

"At the time we didn't overthink it, we just agreed to do it."

She says there has been difficult times, particularly when they moved away for the first couple years to London.

They had landed a record deal and were living in the middle of London city with no money, just trying to play shows.

"I think we both felt really far away from where home was," Julia said.

Through perseverance and holding only genuine interests for their creativity they've had a number of successes over the years, though Julia's humble demeanour hides it well.

From 2007 their songs began appearing in music charts around the world and keep fans absorbed with mesmerising live shows with frequent tours.

Angus and Julia Stone took home five out of the nine ARIA music awards in 2010, which included Single of the Year for 'Big Jet Plane'.

Their music can be recognised on some big time Hollywood flicks including Easy A and The Edge of Seventeen, and was featured on episodes of Revenge, The Vampire Diaries and Girls.

The pair will return to play in Napier in October, a visit Julia explains the pair will look forward to.

"Every country has its own feeling you get when you to places. Every time we come to New Zealand, I feel like the people have a very relaxed way of being and are always very friendly."

Angus and Julia Stone will play at Church Road Winery on October 26, tickets and more information here