“We've always looked out for each other.”
Gold Coast synthpop duo Lastings have returned with their long-awaited second album, Perfect World, building on all the mind-bending magic they introduced us to on 2020’s First Contact. It’s somewhat of a concept album, delving into themes of “melancholy, insecurity and vulnerability” across a narrative that sprawls over 12 tight and dynamic gems of introspective songwriting and razor-sharp production.
When the brother-sister duo first announced the album, singer-songwriter Amy Dowdle called Perfect World “a journey into adulthood”, peering back the curtain on her early 20s as she takes the listener on “journey from self-destruction to finding my independence”. She further explained: “This record is a diary for my heartbreak, the loneliness I felt when moving out of home for the first time, and the urge I had to give up at one point.
“It’s probably the most vulnerable music we have ever made. We want this album to let people know that they aren’t alone and that they don’t need to rush in life. To take things slow. A reminder that you will be okay being on your own, and that everyone is at a different stage... and nobody really knows entirely what they are doing.”
Perfect World made it to shelves on June 23, debuting at #39 on the ARIA charts – a whole 50 spots higher than where First Contact landed (at #89) – and promptly racking up the acclaim from fans and critics alike. And of course, Purple Sneakers has to be in on the hype; here at HQ, we’re losing our goddamn minds over great this record is. To celebrate it, we caught up with Dowdle and her brother, Josh, to chat more about how the record came to life, and what makes Lastlings tick altogether.
Can you tell us a bit about your new album Perfect World and the story behind it?
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Amy: Perfect World is a diary we wrote over the last two years; it is about being in your 20s and all the things that you go through in your 20s. Whether it be heartbreak, moving out of home for the first time, making friends, losing friends, and falling in love – just all those things that happen in your 20s.
Josh: But it also reflects any time in people’s lives as well, even past 30. I feel people still make mistakes and learn from them, even though the album is specific to Amy’s experience in her 20s. The creative side was around exploring the relationship between opposing things that are random versus planned, finding perfection and imperfection, and just addressing and exploring the beauty in the small things that make the world perfect.
You have spoken about infusing your Japanese roots into your music – can you explain more about how your heritage comes through on this album?
Amy: We shot two of the music videos in Japan in line with a lot of the movies that inspired us, like Lost In Translation. In that movie realm, we were also inspired by Worst Person In The World, Normal People and all of those going-into-adulthood movies. In terms of our Japanese heritage, we were really inspired by Tokyo. There’s the intense sci-fi part of Tokyo, but just outside of the city there is so much nature. Movies like Your Name or Weathering With You are all set in the city, but it also brings on that form of fantasy and nature. That’s kind of what our album is like. It is still sci-fi, but has that element of fantasy and nature combined with it. It's what Japan does very beautifully, it has a really good balance of the two.
Josh: They're just making small things highlighted and beautiful, and exploring the finer details of things, and I think that just kind of bleeds into what we do. We really take a lot of care into the creative we do, like minuscule sounds in the in the mix of the music. So, I think attention to detail is something we've brought down from our Japanese heritage.
Being siblings, how do you find that hinders or helps the lastlings creative process?
Josh: We're quite close, and if I say, “I'll come over and do this,” we're both comfortable just going to each other's houses and it's easy. We've always looked out for each other. When Amy moved down to Melbourne she was staying at my place, and I think that in itself was nice. Having family around on tour is also just really nice – to have someone that familiar around – [because] music and touring is quite an isolating job. While being honest is a positive thing, sometimes we're a little bit too honest with each other. We don't fight that much but every now and then we do. I think compared to other siblings though we don't fight that much. Some people with siblings say, “I could never work with my brothers, like, I don't even speak to them anymore.” But yeah, we can do it.
Amy: We used to fight a lot, but I feel as you get older, your communication gets better, and you just understand how to live with each other more.
If your music was a flavour, what would it taste like?
Josh: Popping candy.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences and how have they impacted your own sound and style?
Josh: Radiohead is probably one of mine because they’ve always felt like they’ve gone against the grain. That’s quite inspiring to see and adapt it to your own artistry.
Amy: Four Tet as well, because he seems to like all kinds of music and genres and does whatever he wants to do. I think growing up Beach House when we first started was a band we really liked and drew inspiration from.
Josh: James Blake is another inspiring artist that does his own thing and doesn’t sound like anyone else. That’s what we strive for, being unique to the music we like and the music we want to make. Alt-J at the start too, I wouldn’t say they’re strictly electronic music but they way they were a band didn’t feel like the traditional style of a band, so it was interesting and inspiring to grow up too.
Amy: And Florence And The Machine, London Grammar and BANKS – all those female artists. Growing up I was really inspired by them too.
What’s been the biggest moment in your career so far?
Josh: Splendor In The Grass next month will be. We’ve played it before on the Mix-Up stage at midday and it was a really good turnout, so we’re really excited to play it again this year. Amy and I have been going to the festival since we were in school, when I was 17 and she was 15, and I went for five or so years before we finally played it the first time.
What's the most unusual or unexpected source of inspiration you've drawn from when writing a song?
Josh: I don't know if it's super unexpected or unusual but sometimes I put National Geographic on. Like underwater documentaries in the background while I'm making stuff. The weirdest would be the underwater game part in Donkey Kong; it's the best soundtrack ever, so calming.
Amy: When we were writing Perfect World and when I lived alone in Brunswick, there was this park behind my house. I would walk there and there was this cat that always came up to me, and I wrote a song about that. Every time I go to the movies, I always go to like this local one in Melbourne, and I always walk and end up writing something, because movies always make me feel really inspired. The weirdest one was probably Elemental, the Pixar movie.
Can you share a hilarious or cringe-worthy moment from your early days as an artist?
Josh: Our first interviews were pretty bad – they probably still are. We’d never done them before and when someone's asking you about your music and what you've done, and you’re like, “Oh I don’t know we just started this six months ago.”
Amy: I remember ones from when I was 15 and we were both just really shy. But they’re so funny to watch because I was just sitting there like...
What are the top three tracks or artists you’re vibing on right now?
Josh: Unspoken Words by Max Copper, Me (Heavy) by Fred again.. and Work by Charlotte Day Wilson.
Amy: 夢の続き (Yume No Tsuzuki) by Mariya Takeuchi, I Don’t Understand Anything by Everything But The Girl, and the Dan Carey dub of 2am by Foals.
What’s something that fans not might know about you?
Josh: I love cooking and doing yoga.
Amy: I love Fortnite.
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Josh: New Energy by Four Tet.
Amy: Mine would be Love What Survives by Mount Kimbie. I always listen to it and the songs are all different.
What's in the works for you in 2023?
Amy: Touring Australia, writing new music, playing our new music in Japan and touring America. Hopefully a tiny little holiday somewhere, maybe Tasmania.