On a trajectory geared towards the stars, Lastlings has appeared within our radars for quite some time now with a slew of releases and tours fitted well beneath their belts. This time, we had the opportunity to get to know a bit more about what makes Lastlings tick and learn more about this Australian-Japanese sibling pair.
Hailing from Gold Coast Australia, Amy and Josh Dowdle have made their way through the industry with ethereal electronic tracks that speak mountains to many of their fans. They have released two albums along with an exceptional catalogue of tracks, are signed to RÜFÜS DU SOL’s Rose Avenue Records and have toured and performed at many festivals around the world.
June saw the release of their sophomore album, ‘Perfect World’, which oozes dreamy electronic indie dance cuts over 12 tracks under Rose Avenue Records. To promote their release, the duo is currently in the middle of a world tour, having just completed their Australian leg and will now be headed to Japan and North America in the upcoming days of September.
The music created by this sibling duo is mostly influenced by their daily lives — from observations, experiences and personal thoughts. As well as that, their Japanese heritage and travels to the land of the rising sun have also had a strong influence that has honed the sounds and visual aspects of their craft.
Time to get more acquainted with Amy and Josh.
Let’s dive straight into the deep end. Your sophomore album ‘Perfect World’ centres around an emotional journey from the hurdles of heartache; can you tell us more about what your influences were? How personal is the emotional attachment?
Amy: All of the stories on this album are personal stories so I suppose that I drew influence from my own experiences and observations. I do feel emotionally attached to these songs, but I’ve moved on from all of the thoughts and feelings I was experiencing at the time of writing this album.
Josh: For me, it was a chance to explore a lot of different soundscapes and try a lot of new sounds. I feel quite close to each song because each song was made at a particular time in our lives over the last two to three years. They bring back memories good and bad. Some memories of difficult times we’ve been through pursuing music and other more happy memories like relocating to a new city or travelling to a new place.
What’s your favourite verse/lyric from ‘Perfect World’ and why?
Amy: I think my favourite lyrics are in the second verse of “Perfect World”;
In a perfect world I’ll have every chance
To love myself and feel alive again
And if we’ve grown apart then it won’t be over
Cuz I’ve spent many moments learning and growing on my own
Josh: I’m not sure if this question is the album or the song so I’m going to answer with my favourite lyrics from the album on Gravity;
Now we’re on hold
And I fear that we won’t get to begin again
Those nights were long and I thought I had lost my friend
Can we begin again, can we begin again.
What is a “perfect world” in your eyes? What are you trying to portray through the name of this album?
Amy & Josh: A world where everyone is at peace, everyone is treated equally and everyone is happy. Perfect World was inspired by everything that we go through in our 20s. All the heartbreak, loss, finding independence, learning lessons, making mistakes, and just everything you learn about yourself in this time in your life.
We read that you both enjoy watching films while writing music; care to share what films were watched during the making of the album?
Amy: I was rewatching all of my favourite Studio Ghibli films plus my two favourite films ‘Her’ and ‘Lost in Translation’.
Josh: I was watching a lot of documentaries on Space and also deepwater exploration. I’d have the sound off though so don’t ask me any questions about them I won’t know the answer haha. I did watch ‘Dune’ a few times. I find it quite meditative so I’ve watched it about seven or eight times now — with sound and without.
Read this next: A dive into the divine mind of Victor Simonelli
Take us into the workings of how a track is created as a duo; how do the creative juices flow between the both of you while making music?
Amy: I would say our writing style is very spontaneous. I enjoy writing lyrics alone as it is more of a personal thing for me. Lyrically, a lot of the music I write is drawn from personal experiences or films that I watch. Someone could say one sentence or idea and it can sometimes spark inspiration. I do try to write a little bit every day. Whether it is creative writing, writing a few lyrics down, recording a voice memo or even writing a full song.
I think if I don’t write for a while I usually get writer's block, so it’s good to always be putting something down on paper. Once I have finished off a demo I will send it to Josh. It’s usually just a song with either just piano or minimal production.
Josh: We usually write separately, it’s just something that’s worked consistently for us in the past. We did do a writing trip together which was quite fruitful right before covid but we haven’t really had a chance since then to make time for it. Usually on my side producing the music I’ll just keep making ideas until something feels good enough to send over to Amy. Once Amy has it she takes it away to see if anything she’s written feels good on the track.
When we are writing together though there have been times where we put a film on another monitor to get a vibe and kind of just play with random instruments and sounds to see if we both gel on a certain thing.
How was the experience of being part of RÜFÜS DU SOL’s Rose Avenue Records for your latest release? What’s your greatest takeaway from it?
Amy: Our management team are also a part of Rose Avenue Records, so we speak to them on the daily. We are so lucky to work with a great group of people.
Josh: Yeah, great! This is our second release with them and we work really closely with them and our ideas are heard and supported so it’s a great team to work with.
While working on your album with Rose Avenue Records, have you both experimented with changing your sound?
Amy: A little bit. I think our sound is always changing. We also love all genres of music so we would love to keep writing music that comes naturally to us and never stick to one genre.
Josh: I definitely try a lot of different arrangements and styles before I send off to Amy. I think it’s a matter of finding a middle ground that we’re both happy with and then creating the rest of the album around that. We do love all different styles so sometimes it can be a little confusing on the direction but we just do what feels and sounds right to us. Also with the help of getting the ears of our friends, mgmt etc on the tracks as well to see if they like it or not.
Your world tours have been quite extensive and packed out. Are there any locations around the globe that have left you in awe, and why?
Amy: I remember our show in Chicago a few years ago was really awesome. It was snowing and we had to get on stage through this side door outside. I remember us all standing in the snow freezing to death, then we walked on stage. I remember it being really hot and the room was filled with people. Everyone knew the words to our songs.
We got to meet some of our fans afterwards and they were all so lovely. It’s really eye-opening and amazing to think about all of the listeners that we have on the other side of the world.
Josh: I really liked our show in NYC. I think because NYC is such a cool city and you see it in the films so just to be able to play even a small venue there halfway across the world is really special. It was a packed out venue and we met a few of the fans outside after the show which is always nice and fun.
Sometimes I’m holding back tears because the way some fans describe how the music has touched them can get quite emotional, it’s really nice to hear everyone's stories in person.
What's your absolute go-to instrument in the studio?
Amy: Probably my voice haha. Or the piano/midi keyboard.
Josh: I really like my prophet-6. I’ve had it for a few years but always seem to use it on songs.
Tell us what it was like growing up in your family; are they a musical one and has any other family member contributed to your music?
Amy: We grew up on karaoke. It was one of our mum and dad's favourite thing to do as a family. Dad and I used to sing karaoke in the garage after school for hours and sometimes we would sing and play the guitar outside on the weekends. I think Dad definitely sparked my love for 80s music. Then Mum got me into classical piano when I was about 6 or 7. I remember doing flute and violin lessons for a little while but that didn’t last very long, haha!
Josh: Yeah I would say Mum and Dad got us into music early but it was never a serious thing like “You must become musicians”. For years it wasn’t a serious thing, it was an acoustic guitar lying around the house or like Amy said karaoke. I do remember Dad teaching me chords on the guitar and I even learnt a few songs that he wrote as well. Actually, our Japanese uncle when he came out from Japan for a holiday taught me more than words on a camping trip. It was nice to have him out because he works a busy job in Japan and he didn't often get the time off like that.
Read this next: Mindful connection: Baalti are the Californian duo shifting perceptions on South Asian sounds
When did you both decide to join heads as a creative duo and release music as ‘Lastlings’?
Amy: I was fifteen and still in High School. Josh was 21 and studying at University. I would always walk in on his band practice with his friends. They used to rehearse at our house in the garage. Eventually, I would go in when they had all left and we would play covers together. Then we wrote our first song together, recorded it and released it as Lastlings on SoundCloud.
Give us a description of your music in five words!
Lastlings: Ethereal, cinematic, storytelling, emotional, and dreamy.
How do you feel about using AI in music? Have either of you dabbled in this avenue?
Lastlings: We think as a tool it’ll be helpful, I’ve already used some generators for ripping vocals from instrumentals. Even things like ChatGPT can be quite helpful with random questions you ask it.
It is a little scary especially when there is a chance it could take your job but I know people still appreciate the artist and who they’re following and know that it’s a real person like them that they can relate to who’s gone through hardships and whatnot.
Does your mixed-race background have any influence on the music you make?
Amy: I grew up on all of the Studio Ghibli films. I remember when Mum showed me Totoro when I was a little girl and I have loved those films ever since. We’ve drawn some influence from those films for a few of our songs. I also love to write after I've watched them. They are so dreamy.
Josh: I think Amy and I are inspired heavily by our surroundings and the things we come across travelling. Japan is a beautiful example of this. We love the amazing architecture, and the busy city life but also the more rural stripped-back nature areas of Japan are so calming and create an excellent headspace to feel creative and write. Of course, we can’t be in Japan all the time so bringing back memories of this and feelings of nostalgia are quite helpful when we’re drawing inspiration for new music.
It’s a bright sunny day, and you’re both exhausted from the studio. What do you get up to that keeps you happy and growing in life?
Amy: I love to be out in nature. I like to go to the beach or for a hike in the rainforest. I also find that even just a trip to the gym/pilates keeps me happy. I also like to spend time with my friends, dance around my room, go to the cinemas, or have a wholesome board game night.
Josh: I’ve been running a lot lately so get out for a nice run. We have some beautiful parks in Melbourne so go for a walk and sit down. Even go for a hike outside of the city.
If the world were ending, which one of your songs would you play and why?
Amy: Probably one of the more upbeat happier songs, haha! 'Like Far From Falling' or 'Let You In'.
Josh: Probably none of them! I’d be out making the most of my last moments, haha!
What was the worst job you had before you both were successful touring artists?
Amy: I used to work at an ice cream shop in front of a game centre. It was fun… when I got to eat the ice cream. I had to work alone all day and I would only get 5-10 customers a day so it would get pretty boring sometimes, to the point where I was pretending to scrub things/clean.
Josh: During university, I would work at a surf store on the weekends and stack shelves at night at Woolworths our local supermarket. I didn’t actually mind the job at the supermarket it was good pay and I could listen to my own lectures or music, it was just so tiring and I was going to bed so late.
Read this next: “We don’t need fairytales, we’d do it our way”: The story of Santamonica in their own words
Ramen or pho?
Amy: I love both… but I love Ramen a little more.
Josh: I also love both but I’m going to have to say ramen. I’m a bit of a ramen buff and love trying all the different styles when we go to Japan. Pho is definitely lighter though and I could eat more often.
What one DJ will always get you out of the house and onto the dance floor?
Amy: Chaos in the CBD. I love the music they play, it always puts me in a great mood.
Josh: I like DJ Koze and will generally make my best effort to go to his sets if I’m in the same city.
If you were not making music, what other career paths would you have chosen?
Amy: A career somewhere in the world of film and TV, science or a fiction author.
Josh: Not too sure. I have a degree in biomedical science and I wanted to become a doctor but I feel like it might be a bit late for that. I love creative arts so anything to do with that.
What can we expect to see next for Lastlings?
Lastlings: Hopefully a third album in the future!
Lastlings are set to perform at Local Green Festival in Kanagawa, Japan on September 9. Follow them for more updates here.
Miki Kitasako is Mixmag Asia’s Social Media and Content Producer, follow her on LinkedIn.