Reverberating synths, propulsive rhythms and mesmerising vocals are at the heart of the sonic offering of Australian electronic duo Lastlings. Emerging brother and sister duo Amy and Josh pluck influences from their Japanese heritage, as well as dystopian postmodern literature and comic books, all feeding into their emotive smorgasbord of alt-pop. And their cinematic visual offerings veer from trippy to melancholic music videos.
Their latest track “No Time” was inspired by Kazuo Ishiguro’s iconic novel Never Let Me Go; a simmering track that examines the nuances of time and life’s meanings – laid out against slick basslines.
We caught up with the pair and talked about playing Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks and their debut album First Contact.
Hi! How is lockdown treating you?
Amy: Hello! Really well! I’ve started doing a lot of things that I have always wanted to do/do more of. A lot of reading, cooking, djing, finding new music, and making new music. I’ve definitely come out of lockdown feeling a lot healthier and happier. So it has been awesome.
Josh: We’ve been very lucky where we live compared to a lot of other countries. It hasn’t felt like there has been a pandemic at all really, which is sad considering how it’s affected the rest of the world. The lockdown has given me a lot of time to set up our studio space more, research what studio gear to get for us and hone in on my production and mixing. Aside from music I’ve been cooking and surfing a lot and actually got to direct my first video clip for a friends project recently which was very fun.
How are you staying creative?
Amy: I have been writing new music at home and doing a lot of reading.
Josh: To be honest I’ve struggled to write a lot during lock down. I think it might be the pressure of having so much time that’s really affected me. I tried a thing where I spent two weeks just writing a lot of 1-2 minute ideas really quickly and there’s some good stuff now that I’ve gone back to listen.
Tell us how Lastlings started?
Amy: It happened quite organically. I was 15 and Josh would have been around 20. Josh would always be stuck in the garage with his band making music, whereas I would always be in my room writing songs on the piano. I always used to go pop my head in the window and check out what they were doing. Eventually Josh let me hang out in there with him haha. We started jamming together and doing covers of songs. Then one day we wrote our first song and produced it with our friend! The name itself came from a short story Josh wrote in high school and it was a dystopian story about the last beings on Earth.
Who did you grow up listening to?
Amy: When I was younger I mainly listened to what my dad was listening to – The Cure, Tracy Chapman, Radiohead, Regina Spektor. I was also into a lot of bands like Arctic Monkeys, The Drums, The XX, Alt-J at the start of high school.
Josh: I always forget this, but Dad went through a few jobs when we were growing up and one of them was working at a CD store. I remember a lot of Red Hot Chilli Peppers and he was working there around the time Nelly Furtado released ‘Whoa, Nelly!” so that one was on pretty high rotation as well. When I eventually started teaching myself guitar I was listening to heaps of the usual suspects like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin etc. Then Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins. I’ve had a pretty mixed relationship with music though growing up. A lot of classical, folk, rock, electronic, Grime, R&B and hip hop.
How have you found your Australian and Japanese heritages influence your sound?
Josh: Hmm interesting question. Not sure that it directly affects the sounds specifically too much, but I suppose we draw a lot of visual inspiration from Japan which in turn would inspire our music. What I love about Japanese culture is how precisely and carefully things are treated whether it be making a bowl, making food or even their architecture. I think it’s all so beautifully balanced as well and I think that’s something that we take into our everyday; To do things with care and create things that we find beautiful. It’s an amazing thing to take inspiration from a certain source and to turn it into another medium entirely.
Congratulations on “No Time” – what is the song about and where did you pull inspirations from?
Thank you! It is about releasing yourself from negative thoughts and growing from our disappointments and failures. It is also about living your life to its fullest potential because as cliché as it may be life really is short. “No Time” was also inspired by Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go. We were lucky enough to produce this with our good friend Cassian last year when he was back in Australia.
You’ve taken inspiration from anime for previous visuals – would you say this is a regular place you garner inspiration from?
Yes, definitely. Anime is incredible. There’s so many different variations, stories and styles so it’s an amazing world to pull inspiration from. It really creates worlds that we’ve never seen before and that is something that is so interesting to us. Film, art, architecture and different landscapes are also other places where we draw a lot of inspiration from
You’ve played some iconic music venues – what’s been your favourite?
Definitely Red Rocks in Colorado supporting Rufus Du Sol with Bob Moses. That venue is insanely beautiful. When you’re facing the stage from the audience you can see the city lights from Denver in the background. It’s a very emotional place to play as well because it’s so large and feels like you’re on mars with all the giant rocks, but somehow it feels so intimate and the crowd on the night was so beautiful.
What’s next for you?
We’ve been waiting to release our debut album First Contact for some time now and because of the pandemic it’s release date has just been pushed a little further. Soon though! Unfortunately, any international tours aren’t looking too promising, but we’re hoping that the Australian restrictions ease further so that we can tour our album here in Aus.
“No Time” is out via EMI Records/ Astralwerks / Rose Ave.