Singer-Songwriter + RATIONALE Luminary
Self-care in the truest sense of the term is all about the small things. “A cup of tea in the sun. A glass of wine with a dear friend. Eating a meal that you’ve cooked for yourself with love…” These are the moments that fill Julia Stone’s cup each day.
It’s a refreshing outlook by which the singer-songwriter lives her life. Having spent the last fifteen years as one half of Australia’s beloved duo, Angus and Julia Stone, and experiencing the whirlwind of tours, recording and travel that generally defines a career in the entertainment industry, it’s easy to imagine how the everyday rituals that are most important to our wellbeing might get cast aside one by one. But Julia’s appreciation of the small things in life is undeniable—and admirable—finding the most gratitude for days when she gets to do the simplest of things: “taking a swim in the ocean, playing a game of scrabble with my Dad or watching a sci-fi movie with Mum.”
From her Dad’s seaside home in Lennox Head, northern New South Wales, the sweetly down-to-earth songstress (and RATIONALE devotee of many years) talked us through her morning and evening routines, the process of working and making music throughout the pandemic, and the women in her life who have taught her the most about confidence.
Could you step us through some of the rituals that make up your mornings and evenings?
I usually wake up at around 6am and put the kettle on straight away. The sun is just coming up so the light in Dad’s place is beautiful. Then, while the kettle is boiling, I go into the bathroom and wash my face. I use the water on my hands to wake up the rest of my body—I touch each of my elbows, the tops of my feet, my knees, and my belly button. It’s amazing how just the touch of water can wake you up.
Then I gently flush my eyes with warm-ish water. I always do my morning skincare with RATIONALE. I do steps 1, 2 and 3 of the Essential Six (#3 The Day Crème SPF15 is my favourite), then add sunscreen, a touch of tinted moisturiser, and rosy-up my cheeks. If I’m in the mood, I’ll put a little eyeliner on. Then I get into the day.
In the evenings, I like watching TV shows while I eat dinner. There are a few things that I love to watch and re-watch over and over: Veep, The Thick of It, Party Down, The Office (UK), Extras, and Seinfeld. I watch them with my meal (if I’m alone) and if I have company, I tend to like to talk (but not always).
Growing up, do you think anyone’s attitude on beauty has helped shape your own?
Yes, for sure. It’s been a mix.
My mum is very beautiful but has never *tried* to look beautiful. She is a brilliant human: super bright, fun and full of life. She’s an incredible sailor, a scientist, and she has always been practical about clothes and beauty. She’ll wear a beautiful dress with sandshoes if it’s going to be a long day. She wears wet weather gear a lot of time. She dresses to be practical and comfortable but always looks so polished. She taught me to wear whatever I want and it doesn’t matter.
My Nan was the image of elegance and grace. Always so exquisitely put together. She passed a couple of months ago at age 98 and her hair was perfectly done when she left us. She had really chic taste; she was of a generation where the quality of the clothes lasted a lifetime.
Then there’s my friend, Jessie Hill. She’s a close creative collaborator of mine and is one of the most stylish women I know. She taught me how to dress for my body and also helped me a lot with body confidence. She would always point out how beautiful my body was and is… I started in music so young that I found it overwhelming to be photographed and had a lot of unhealthy ideas about the way I looked. I liked to be covered up, but she slowly uncovered me—both literally and metaphorically.
She was also the first person to tell me I had to look after my skin. She made me wear sunscreen every day. I look back now and can’t believe I didn’t wear sunscreen throughout my twenties!
We know that there’s rarely a ‘typical’ day in the entertainment industry. But what does a working day look like for you at the moment?
Right now a lot of my work life is on my computer. I get sent songs from around the world—sometimes from other artists who are looking to co-write a song with me, or sometimes it’s a track of my own from a producer.
I have a portable studio that I take with me everywhere. At my Dad’s right now, I’ll make us both a coffee in the morning and listen to him playing guitar while I go through my emails and make a plan for the day. Then it’s time to sing and write.
This year you released your third solo album—congratulations! Can you tell us a little about how Sixty Summers came to life?
The inspiration for Sixty Summers, generally, is about how short life is, and how you have to live it in the way that makes sense for you. The title came from a midsummer moment with a dear friend of mine, who stopped me on the dance floor at a party (after a few summers in a row together) and said ‘can you believe we only have sixty summers left?’
It turned into a song when I made this record years later. When I was deciding on the album title, I felt like I was back in that moment with my friend. I made the record because I love making music and love doing that with my friends. It was the best way I could spend that time. Three of my sixty summers were spent creating this.
What are you finding yourself listening to at the moment?
Right at this moment, I’m listening to ‘Seldom Seen Kid’ by Elbow with the BBC Concert Orchestra, live at Abbey Road. This week I’ve been listening to some old favourites: ‘Trouble’ by Ray Lamontagne, and ‘Trouble will Find Me’ by The National.
If you weren’t a musician, what could you imagine yourself doing?
I was super into reading Patricia Cornwell novels for a period of time growing up. She’s an American Crime novelist and her leading lady is a Chief Medical Examiner called Kay Scarpetta. I thought she was the brightest and sexiest character. I used to imagine myself as her, turning up to crime scenes and slowly trying to piece it all together.
Then there was this very beautiful older girl at school who was going to study criminal law at university, which added to my obsession over criminology and being at the heart of it.
I am now grateful I didn’t go down that path, but for a period of time I could really picture it. Then when I watched Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’ it reignited my desire to be part of that world. It would be a spooky life though.
What do you love to make time for outside of work—is there a hobby of yours that most people wouldn’t know about?
I really like harvesting vegetables, although through almost no effort of my own! I love going to my Italian friend’s garden when it’s harvest time and helping her pull the potatoes and carrots out of the earth. The feeling of that moment is very fun.
I also like learning about mental health and trying to understand how to be of assistance in a time of crisis. That has been a big passion of mine since the pandemic started.
Where are some of your favourite places to visit (when you can), either at home or abroad?
One of my favourite places in the entire world is Tasmania.
I love Hobart, the MONA Gallery, the wilderness, the people and the air. To me, it’s incredibly inspiring. I feel alive there.
Some other cities I’ve been missing and longing to revisit are Mexico City, Madrid, Montreal, Paris, London and New York. Outside of Tassie, I love cities and have a bunch of great mates that I’m missing terribly in each of those places.
Finally, what’s next on the horizon for you?
The world is changing so much at the moment. I honestly don’t know what anything will be like too far ahead and I’m okay with that right now.
I have some music with my brother coming out this month, then I’ll release a Christmas record. Hopefully fit some dancing in there too when we can again.
Interview: Caroline Thomas
Photography: Claudia Smith
Stylist: Megan W. Murray
Hair + Makeup: Ashlea Penfold