Stu Larsen is currently touring with Natsuki Kurai.
Queensland-born folk musician, Stu Larsen can taste the humidity.
The singer has recently returned home from his UK and European tour, and is currently on a national tour with friend and fellow musician Natsuki Kurai. The pair have been travelling throughout Europe since October performing to delighted fans.
While still on tour in Europe, Stu took some time out from travelling to their Barcelona show to answer a few questions.
You've been touring since October, and it's been pretty consistent – just about every night or every other night. How are you feeling – knackered? It’s interesting touring like this. We should be 100 per cent exhausted. It’s just Natsuki and I driving ourselves around Europe in a tiny 2-seat van, playing 30 shows in 40 days covering 13,000km across the tour.
But something special happens every day when you are surrounded by amazing crowds who turn up for a good time. They travel to be at these shows and they want to be there and they want to connect with us and each other. This somehow gives us the energy to keep going and makes all the hard work feel like the easiest thing in the world.
How important would you say live shows are to you? Live shows are incredibly important to me. There is nothing like turning up in a city and feeling such love in the room.
We played in Milan last night to about 100 people and it was one of the most overwhelming shows of my life, people singing along to all the songs, some people with tears in their eyes during some songs, showing such appreciation for what we do. There is nothing like this. It makes me want to do it for the rest of my life, as long as the crowds still want it to happen.
Do you find the reception at gigs different in somewhere like Stuttgart or Prague, for example, than when playing to crowds at home? This is the real beauty with playing all over the world; every country, every city, every crowd is different and even playing five times in the same city over the years still produces a different vibe each time.
Europe in general is phenomenal. The crowds really show their appreciation in a different way to back home. I think the general culture of a country shows in the crowds that turn up to shows. Like last night in Milan; it was such a passionate Italian crowd, whereas back home in Australia, I find the crowds to be more chilled, more relaxed, but still appreciative. I love that we can experience this difference across the world.
I know you often perform with others. The first time I saw you, you were playing alongside Passenger. Is that something you find you prefer – performing with others? I think it’s nice to be able to travel with someone else, usually it’s a support act and we end up playing a few songs together each night.
Travelling alone is amazing, but touring alone can be very difficult when you’re doing all the driving, playing, talking, tour managing etc. It’s so good to have someone with you to at least laugh at the stupid things together and vent about the things that didn’t quite go how they should or could have.
I’m pretty at home onstage alone and just as comfortable with someone like Natsuki too, and I think it’s good to offer crowds a different take on things once in a while.
You've got about a week and a half after you finish in Madrid before you start the Australian shows in Sydney. Will that be enough time to recuperate, or do you reckon you'll have itchy feet by then? By the time I drop the rental van back in the UK, I’ll have seven days between tours, take out a day or two for travel time, that leaves five days, three of which I’m going to spend in Bali on the way back where I hope to do nothing but sleep.
I’ve been living this way for over ten years now, so it’s pretty natural to just keep moving. The longest I’ve spent in the one place over that time is a few weeks recording albums or being stranded in hospital after a burst appendix. I always have itchy feet.
Are you excited to be back on home turf playing to local crowds? I really can’t wait. We toured part of Australia earlier in the year with Porch Sessions and it was phenomenal; at that point it was the best tour of my life, but this current European tour has now taken the top spot.
We’re really looking forward to finishing the touring year together back in Australia where we began before we took off to Japan, North America and Europe.
How did you meet Natsuki, and what made you decide to combine your sounds and tour together? Natsuki and I met by chance in Tokyo back in 2010. It was my first big adventure travelling around the world alone – Japan was my first stop. I felt very open to everything and wanted to meet people and experience everything along the way.
I am incredibly lucky to have randomly met Natsuki one night, but recently found out that he actually took a photo of me on the street in busy Shibuya hours before we had met because he ‘felt something’ and needed to take a photo. This is destiny :)
We played two songs at a show a few nights later and the connection was insane; we couldn’t speak to each other at all, neither spoke the other's language, but we quickly formed an unbreakable bond through music and we’ve been playing shows together every year since then.
You have to see Natsuki play to comprehend it, on YouTube or Spotify it’s cool, but when you see him at a show you just can’t explain what you’re hearing and feeling, he really is a master of his craft.
Are you excited to bring him home? Are there certain things that you want to show him, like your favourite local spots? I am so excited, mainly just to play these shows and connect with people along the way. So many people have said to us after shows that they just can’t put into words what they experienced during the show, I love this and want to see the same thing happen in Australia.
We’ll definitely hit up my favourite spots in each city if time allows and we’re thinking about going back to Bowenville (where I grew up) after the last show in Brisbane; he’s never been so it might be a nice way to finish the year together.
What do the two of you play at these shows? We play a bunch of songs off my last few albums and our joint EPs; it’s a pretty good mix of songs and we’re really enjoying playing for a solid 70-80 minutes each show.
You're the quintessential rolling stone, aren't you? Do you find that comes across in your tracks? Definitely. I have been living this way for more than ten years, so everything I write comes from this way of life and people seem to connect with it and feel like they’re on this journey with us.
Do you ever find yourself homesick? Or are you happy without any ties rolling from one country to the next? I really feel like I am the luckiest person in the world. I have everything I need with me on the road and I have friends in almost every city that I play in, and I’m able to visit them once or twice a year which makes me feel like I am a part of little communities all around the world.
I think when I stop travelling, I will find myself homesick for many people in many places.
Stu Larson and Natsuki Kurai plays Wheatsheaf Hotel (Adelaide) 29 November, Mojos Bar (Fremantle) 30 November and Black Bear Lodge (Brisbane) 1 December.