Dope Lemon is the chilled out side project of Angus Stone which was first introduced to listeners in 2016 with his impressive debut album ‘Honey Bones’. From that record, ‘Marinade’ and ‘Uptown Folks’ received big praise and became Triple J favourites. Returning to our airwaves with recent single ‘Hey You’, he will be releasing his aesthetically pleasing new album ‘Smooth Big Cat’ this Friday on July 12. After his highly coveted set at Splendour In The Grass he will then be embarking on a massive national tour to create a memorable night of chilled out vibes.
I recently chatted to Angus Stone about how seclusion played a massive part in the creation of this record, what ‘Smooth Big Cat’ represents to him and how he is planning on visually representing this record on his upcoming Australian tour. Check it out HERE;
TB: You recorded ‘Smooth Big Cat’ over a three month period at Belafonte which is the studio on your ranch. And you played every instrument as well as produced and mixed every song. Why did you feel like this was an important part of the journey for this album instead of enlisting in some production help?
AS: This record was really unique to me in the way where I walked in not having anything written. I walked in with the engineer and started with a different instrument for each song and slowly built songs up myself. I have a really cool relationship with my engineer where we just kick around, drink some whiskey and let it roll.
It was my first time playing every instrument, producing and mixing and it was a really fun process. I guess it ended up just happening that way and it just felt right being so hands on.
TB: What was it about the track ‘Smooth Big Cat’ or the essence it managed to capture that made you want to name the record after it?
AS: A big part of what this record is the Smooth Big Cat himself and his story. He’s a fictional character in one of the songs on the record. He’s this sort of illusive character that lives on the property. The property where I made the record and where I live.
His story is that he doesn’t have stakes in worrying about all the nonsense in the world. He’s a cool cat. He just likes staying up late, having a drink and listening to old records
He shows up when you need to mellow out and take a step back from life. He represents a cool thing. His character from the song almost became this totem for the record and when I listen to the record I think of what he stands for. So it became the perfect title for the record.
TB: In between the swagger and witty nature of the record, there is an underlining vulnerability. So reflecting on the album what would you say is the most vulnerable moment for you as a songwriter?
AS: Over the years I’ve come to realise that there is something in making records that ables you to create something real and to capture a moment you have to hand over any inhibitions you may have in this way. To create real records that resonate with the listener you somewhat have to hand over your fears as best you can.
TB: This record also embodies a dreamy and nostalgic chilled out vibe. So what was inspiring you sonically while you were working on the record?
AS: Oh man my listening is usually done on the road when I’m driving in the car. My playlists cover a pretty broad spectrum from country to electronic music but mostly when I’m in the studio I like to remain quite immersed in the recordings to keep my head in what I’m doing. When I get sick of music I like to just listen to talk back though .
TB: With Dope Lemon being one of your musical projects, how do you distinguish how you creatively approach this compared to an Angus & Julia Stone record or how you approached your debut solo album in 2012?
AS: Every song, every record record and who I do it with are really different in so many ways. I guess the different projects mark different chapters in your life. It’s cool listening back to them because they create this timeline and have all the stories you collect along the way. Writing is a labour of love for me and I feel so lucky to be able to do what I do.
TB: You will be heading on a massive headlining tour in August to celebrate the release of the album. So how do you plan to bring this diverse and nostalgic sounding record to life? And what sort of visual aesthetic do you want to set?
AS: I’ll tell you, I’m so excited for this tour! There are lots of surprises for the audience in the way we have set-up the stage. I won’t give away too many secrets but it’s going to be very epic indeed. Apart from the stage, the musicians are friends from around the world that have come together to come hang and share this record with the world in a very cool way.
TB: What feeling, emotion or thought process do you want people to walk away from this new live show feeling/ thinking about?
AS: When I listen to the record something real happens to me. I just want them to kick back and enjoy the songs they’ve connected with along the way and have a great time with their pals on the night with the lemon.
TB: It’s been a little while in between tours for Dope Lemon. So reflecting back on your last run of dates, what was the weirdest or funniest tour experience?
AS: We once had a drunk Scottish sailor jump up and sing a whole song one tour which was pretty classic *laughs*. I’m looking forward to the kids having a good time this run for sure.
TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind.
TB: My pre show pump up song is…
AS: ‘Dead Wrong’ by Shinobi featuring Biggie Smalls
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
AS: Kinda alright
TB: The emoji that best describes my album ‘Smooth Big Cat’ is…
AS: The little tiger guy
TB: If I could have any super power it would be…
AS: To have an endless beer tap
TB: My go to snack on tour is…
AS: Turkey wrap
Dope Lemon’s new album ‘Smooth Big Cat’ is out THIS Friday, 12 July. Pre order now from Sanity and receive a free temporary tattoo https://www.sanity.com.au/products/2423058/Smooth_Big_Cat__BONUS_DOPE_LEMON_TEMPORARY_TATTOO
Smooth Big Cat Australian Tour
Friday 2 August – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Thursday 8 August – The Tivoli, Brisbane
Friday 9 August – Palais Theatre, Melbourne
Thursday 15 Aug – HQ Complex, Adelaide
Saturday 17 August – Metropolis, Perth
Thursday 22 August – Powerstation, Auckland