Angus Stone talks Dope Lemon and paying for fans' tattoos

Australian singer-songwriter Angus Stone is used to selling out shows with his sister Julia, but now his solo project is having its big moment.

Dope Lemon started as a way of keeping the creative buzz going during downtime, but it's proving so popular, he's selling out gigs both sides of the Tasman.

"It's pretty good to be able to come over and sell shows, I can't wait to get up there," Stone told Newshub ahead of Dope Lemon's first-ever New Zealand show on Thursday at the Power Station.

When Angus Stone went to his ranch to make a second Dope Lemon album, he hadn't written a thing. A rarity for a man who has multiple projects on the go at once.

"I tend to just go into the studio and dedicate that time to writing that record. It's just more potent that way," he says.

He's been releasing multi-platinum selling albums with his sister for over a decade now, but Dope Lemon's blissed-out psychedelics are a far cry from the folk sound of Angus & Julia Stone.

He says he can sometimes work out which box a song fits into while he's writing it, but for Dope Lemon's second album Smooth Big Cat he set the time aside, and what started as a few days turned into three months.

"When you work with yourself, at your own place, it's really freeing and you can just take your time and just relax into it. I feel like that's when good stuff happens," he says.

For the first time in his career, Stone's had complete control - playing every single instrument, and producing and mixing the album himself.

"I've wanted to sort of make it 100 percent my brushstroke. I've listened to artists in the past that have done it. It feels like you really get all of the artists," Stone says.

He's named the album Smooth Big Cat after a mythical character in one of the songs, which Stone says represents parts of himself.

"He's one of those guys who when you need some time out you can go drink a whiskey and listen to some records, and just mellow out from the world," he explains.

Stone realised the project was really taking off when he saw people were getting its logo tattooed. To celebrate Smooth Big Cat's release, he used the album's marketing budget to shout Aussie fans free tattoos of the Dope Lemon logo.

"It's a strange feeling," he admits.

"It's a beautiful feeling that people have that connection with the music and want to represent it on themselves, it's pretty crazy."

Stone says he'd like to make another Dope Lemon album in the next six months, if time, and projects with Julia allow. But like the titular Smooth Big Cat, he's happy to take things day by day.


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