Close your eyes and Lastlings’ smoky electronic dance sound will take you back in time – back to when people could still dance together with the lights flashing and the music pumping in time to your heartbeat, to when you could lose yourself in the crowd and spin with your arms above your head until you saw stars. But for such an otherworldly sound, the Japanese Australian brother-sister duo is surprisingly grounded. As we talk about everything from working during the pandemic to the best animes, the two play off one another, Josh’s laid-back surfer vibe perfectly complimenting Amy’s kind personality and gentle laughter. They’re honest and easy to talk to, and I find myself losing myself in conversation with them, taking a moment to vent about the pandemic in the U.S. before remembering we’re still technically strangers.
Before launching their music career, the pair started off as models, working for brands like Reebok and Black Milk while performing their music in garages. Fast forward to today, and Lastlings has worked with the iconic RÜFÜS DU SOL, signed with the group’s label, Rose Avenue, and toured with bands like Two Door Cinema Club and Glass Animals. Now, they’re getting ready to release a new single called “Out of Touch,” with guitar inspired by Studio Ghibli, as well as their very first album, First Contact, which focuses on all the firsts in life.
If Lastlings’ music is a first for you, make sure to check out their debut album, and read on to hear their thoughts on fast fashion, the modeling industry, and the very best karaoke songs to start practicing now.
What’s the best part about working with a sibling?
Josh Dowdle: Probably that we can be really brutally honest with each other is the best part.
What album has been on repeat for you guys lately?
JD: I’ve been listening to Jacques Greene’s Dawn Chorus a lot.
Amy Dowdle: I’ve been listening to the Tom Yorke Anima album!
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
AD: I actually wanted to be a singer I think.
JD: I think when I was really young I wanted to be a surfer, and then when I was in high school I wanted to be a doctor. And I went to study it, but I didn’t end up doing it.
AD: And then I’m pretty sure I went through this phase when I was like nine where I stole all of Josh’s medical books… [but] I can’t deal with blood, so I don’t think I could ever be a doctor.
JD: I did pre-med, but I didn’t end up going into medicine… I graduated and then I had a bit of a year off and then we started Lastlings when Amy finished school.
What’s been the most exciting moment of your career so far?
AD: Mine would probably have to be when we played Red Rocks with RÜFÜS, I think that was last year, I think that was definitely a highlight, and also our album coming out soon is definitely something that I’m looking forward to.
How do you find new music?
JD: I listen to a lot of DJ sets and live streams. I look a lot on Bandcamp actually, there’s always labels putting out new stuff on Bandcamp, and also I’m part of a lot of DJ premiere stuff, so I get music sent to me as well, which is good.
AD: I use Spotify, and I listen to all of the playlists and then I kind of get into this wormhole where I just keep going.
Do you guys have any secret talents?
JD: I like to cook a lot and I surf as well. I’m not like a professional, but I go almost every day, I love surfing. It’s more like a hobby I guess. It’s one of those ones where I’m hoping that when everything opens up in the world, I can go do surf trips and stuff and go surfing in America as well.
Is it a really common thing in Australia to surf?
JD: Yeah, it’s pretty common, like we live really close to the beach… it’s so hard to learn when you’re older though.
What do you do when you’re feeling angry?
JD: I go for a surf. It’s really peaceful being out in the ocean.
AD: I go for a run.
JD: I hate running, running makes me more angry.
AD: Really?! I love running. It kind of just clears your mind and you can just run and think about other things, and then I always love going for a swim in the ocean after that.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
JD: Mine is just “do things with care always.”
Do you have a go-to karaoke song?
JD: Not really, I always blank when I get to karaoke.
AD: I love doing “Lovefool” by the Cardigans, but I always do that when I’m not with my friends because when I’m with my friends, we just do like Ariana Grande and Dua Lipa.
How should fans listen to ‘Out of Touch’ for the first time?
JD: I don’t know, maybe sitting outside with headphones on.
AD: Or if they can, by the ocean.
When you get homesick, what do you miss the most?
AD: My dog, Gizmo. We have a pomeranian chihuahua.
JD: I probably miss the beach and miss surfing. I miss Gizmo as well, I’m just saying… I miss my equipment as well. I can’t take all of it on the road, so I miss all my synths and my instruments that I use to produce and stuff.
What has been getting you through the pandemic?
AD: Definitely exercising a lot has made me feel happy, I think that’s so important for mental health.
JD: We’ve been so busy with Lastlings stuff, I’ve just been doing that. I thought we’d be less busy, but we’ve been more busy, we’ve been doing a load of press, and then getting the album stuff ready. We actually filmed a music video as well… so all the prep for that was really hectic and getting that ready was pretty time-consuming. So I don’t know, we’ve had a lot of things to keep our mind off of the fact… the gold coast has been pretty chill to be honest, where we live. It hasn’t really felt like there’s been a pandemic here to be honest, which is lucky for us. It’s definitely sad for other people who live in places that are more affected.
What do you miss most about performing live?
AD: I miss everything about performing. I miss seeing people there to see our songs live, and I miss all of our friends in different parts of the world too.
JD: Yeah, I think not being able to meet new people, see new places, definitely sucks. We had a big tour planned this year for America, so we were pretty gutted when we couldn’t come. We’re hoping like maybe next year, I don’t know what touring is going to be like, but maybe we can just come for a trip or something.
How do you stop caring about what other people think?
JD: I don’t know, it depends on if it’s like people commenting on your Instagram and stuff, I just think–
AD: We don’t know who they are!
JD: We don’t know who they are, they’re on the other side of the world, it doesn’t matter what they say. I think we just kind of… what’s the word?
AD: I just feel like if they don’t know you personally, then you shouldn’t take it personal, because they don’t know what you’ve been through.
JD: Yeah, and we’re proud of our successes as well, so that’s important too.
What is one thing you’re looking forward to before 2020 is up?
JD: Yeah, obviously we have a single coming out real soon, “Out of Touch,” the album…
AD: And then we have a few shows in our hometown, and then one in Brisbane, which is a city really close to us, which we’re so excited about because we haven’t played a show in so long. I think the last show we played was in January. It’s going to be seated I think, I mean it is going to be seated, but it’ll be cool to see everyone. All of our friends and stuff will be there.
Who are your biggest style icons?
AD: I have a lot of different ones. I really like some of the outfits that Bella Hadid wears, she’s cool.
JD: I don’t know, I don’t really have many.
AD: Yeah, I kind of like dressing how I like to dress.
JD: As I’ve gotten a bit older and stuff, I just like really functional kind of techwear, because if you’re wearing it all the time and it gets dirty, it doesn’t really matter. But I don’t know, I’ve accumulated a lot of expensive clothes over the years, and I try not to get it dirty. Don’t want to screw it up. I kind of like one-off pieces instead of fast fashion brands.
AD: Yeah, I saw something about H&M this morning in fast fashion, and I was so shocked.
JD: It’s pretty concerning how bad fast fashion is. We try to support local designers or [go] thrifting as much as we can.
What anime should everyone watch?
JD: I guess it depends, because there’s so many different ones.
What if I’m like a beginner…
AD: OK, you have to watch all the Studio Ghibli movies.
JD: At least start with “Spirited Away” or “My Neighbor Totoro.”
AD: Another good one for beginners would be “Your Name” or “Weathering With You.”
JD: “Your Name” is kind of sad though.
AD: Yeah, “Your Name” is so sad, but it’s really cute as well.
What’s a common misconception about modeling?
JD: I think everyone just thinks it’s super easy. I don’t know, for male modeling, I think it is.
AD: I’ve been doing it since I was like 13, and I haven’t had any dramas, but I’ve heard stories about other girls and what they’ve been through, and I think it is quite a tough industry. Like some girls have to go through a lot of stuff I think.
JD: Yeah, a lot of girls develop a lot of mental health issues, a lot of eating disorders as well, so I think it’s a pretty hectic industry.
AD: Even the shoot I did the other day, the girl said that she didn’t want to eat because her agency told her that she was too fat, and I just said, “What?! You’re not fat at all.” It’s just so shocking.
JD: The whole industry kind of creates pretty unrealistic body expectations as well.
AD: I think it’s starting to get a lot better now, like I loved the show that Rihanna did recently, the Fenty one, that was so good.
What is one thing you want your fans to know about who you guys are?
JD: I think it’s just good for our fans to know that we’re normal people like them, just doing our profession, which is music now, and everyone else has their own thing as well — I don’t want to separate us too much.
What other artist would you choose for your dream collaboration?
JD: I’d like to write a song with Samuel one day, but that feels like it’s a bit out of reach.
AD: I also really love Apparat.
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story / Chandler Plante
photo / Jessica Aleece