For more than seven years, Angus Stone has been well known as one half of the critically acclaimed, folk-singing sibling duo, Angus & Julia Stone. But now the young Australian singer and songwriter has begun to earn accolades on his own since he just wrapped up his solo tour through North America, playing songs off his newest album, "Broken Brights."
This week, Stone is debuting a video created for the ninth single on the album, "Monsters." Produced in collaboration with Evil Twin partners Taylor Steele and Todd DiCiurcio, the short film is a visual trek through an imaginary wooded universe, populated by mythical characters and gorgeous Aussie landscapes. Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with Angus over the phone, who told us about the making of "Monsters" as well as his love of Wes Anderson and the draw of bigger whiskey bottles stateside.
Huffington Post: We watched the video for "Monsters" and we really enjoyed this imaginary wooded world you set up. Where did you get this idea?
Angus Stone: Taylor [Steele] wanted me to get totaled in car, in slow motion. That was the first idea. But then I realized that I had completely forgotten about a story that I was actually writing. A short story about this kid. He had a girlfriend who cooks up dinner and she’s a bit of a cheeky one. She ends up cooking him up a magic mushroom dinner, without him knowing. They live on a reserve, so after, they go for a wander and end up walking up this mountain. They fall asleep and there's something about it -- all these things, being in the right place at the right time. They transform into this other world.
And the story really begins with this. With them getting split up. That's what this film is. It's from his side of the story. He's taken away by this old man, keeper of the forest, who really is looking after the guy because it's dangerous. So the old man takes him to his hut, and the story becomes about how’s he going to escape. It was pretty wild to film because they tied me up, and I essentially had to try and escape from all the little monsters.
HP: As the main character in the video, you are certainly put through a lot -- dragged, chased, you even throw yourself off a cliff. What was it like to film these scenes?
AS: I like getting beat up and dragged about and jumping off waterfalls. I felt really alive. It was a pretty cool way to make a video.
HP: You’ve got a few cuts and bruises on your cheek in the video. Were there any actual injuries that occurred during the shoot?
AS: I got 13 stitches up my left leg and broke my tooth.
HP: Wow, really?
AS: No, that's not true. [Laughs]
HP: [Laughs] Can you explain the inspiration for the lyrics of "Monsters"?
AS: I had this grand idea that I'd move to Amsterdam and live on a house boat, write music and dabble in a bit of pacifism on the way. I went over there and I locked myself inside and I sort of went to these places and wrote this song "Monsters" there. I was walking around, you know, sort of a scummy area where there was some bad stuff going on, and I just caught someone's eye, this man's eye. And I suddenly wanted to write a story about him and the monsters in the dark, and how we all need love. We all have that based in our hearts.
HP: Both Taylor Steele and Todd DiCiurcio have described the film as a chapter out of a full-length feature. Do you have plans to build on this video with other songs from the album?
AS: Yeah, for sure. Taylor made a cut of a kind of a short film and he actually put this video in the flm and used other songs from the record, placed together in a really nice way. I would love to do more in the future. Maybe finish this book and make that into a film.
HP: What's the book's title?
AS: I don't know the title of the book yet. It's sleeping right now.
HP: Well, speaking of making a feature film, are there any filmmakers that you idolize?
AS: Yeah, I reallly like filmmakers in general. Wes Anderson, for example, I find him really poetic in the way that he has made his films. The last cinematic moments. It's beautiful, I love it. But, for the video, we weren't really inspired by one filmmaker or another. I sort of left that side up to Tyler. I was just trying to run away from the monsters!
HP: You just finished your North American tour last month, is there a big difference between touring in Australia and touring in the US?
AS: The bottles of whisky are bigger in the United States, so there’s more whisky on the stage. And that means the performances are way better. But also, I think there's a landscape thing. In the US, the buses are really like a home on wheels, you know? And you see all the countryside and get to experience that along the way.
HP: Are there any cultural differences that come to mind -- something that just mystifies you about culture in the US?
AS: I find more so that you guys are really intrigued. It feels like there’s a passion for the art coming through there, and there are these certain moments where you catch someone’s eye. And I guess it's not just America, but I feel like there’s something there outside of Australia. And it's definitely rad.
HP: This was also your first North American tour without Julia. Do you two have plans for another collaboration in the near future?
AS: Next year I am going to do some writing here. I purchased property here -- a farm by the coast -- and I am going to a bit of building. Build a treehouse and do some writing for a record Julia and I have planned. This property has lots of forest on it and I can walk around with my dog and let my imagination run wild.
Watch the premiere of "Monsters" in the video above and see a slideshow of Stone below. Let us know what you think of his banjo and mandolin-laden ballads in the comments section.