Amy and Josh Dowdle, the brother-sister duo hailing from Australia’s Gold Coast, have released their debut album First Contact, as well as a live acoustic version. Together they are Lastlings, a name drawn from a dystopian short story written by Josh as a teenager, setting the tone for their ultramodern aesthetic. Having gained prominence after touring with the acclaimed Rüfus du Sol in 2017, Lastlings' career is off to an exciting start.
The release of their album, coupled with an enticing and futuristic trailer shot in Japan, highlights the intensity of connection felt in the moment of ‘first contact’ with another. Through their mix of melodic electronic music and soft laced vocals, the album derives an apocalyptic ambience and incorporates sci-fi elements into a new form of electro-pop.

While the duo was raised in Australia, their Japanese heritage plays heavily into their creation, exploring a vast musical landscape that pours forth into the distinct Lastlings sound. The balance of the bustling cityscape of Tokyo set against the serene fishing village Aomori where their grandparents reside flows into their music, imbuing an energy that is exciting and electric. Today we chat with the two to find out more about First Contact, their inspiration behind the sound, and how to work in harmony as siblings.
First of all, congratulations on your first album! It is such an interesting dynamic to see a brother and sister collaborate creatively. Were you brought up in a musical household?
Amy: Music was also around growing up. My mum started teaching me piano when I was 6, and when I was 11 I began writing songs. I’d generally hang out in my room writing music and practising covers. Dad and I would sometimes sit out on the porch with his acoustic and sing together. They definitely influenced our love for music and we are really grateful for this.
Josh: While music is now our sole focus, I was actually studying biomedical science at university before committing to music. I visited Japan during a gap year and came back feeling inspired to focus more on writing and producing music. I ended up finishing my degree and felt like this was the only opportunity I’d have while young to give music a go. Amy was still at school during this stage so we tried to balance things until Amy finished and we focused solely on music.
What is it like to work together as siblings?
Amy: We are able to be more honest with each other than if we weren’t siblings and just playing with our friends. There’s certainly no awkward barrier where you can’t say exactly what is on your mind about certain parts of songs, how it's produced or sung. However, we (like most siblings) fight of course haha.
How does the process work for you both – does one take charge of the songwriting while the other focuses more on music production for example? Tell us all the details...
Amy: Generally, we will spend time apart working on our own thing separately, and then bring these ideas together and see what works. It might be that Josh will play an unreleased track he has produced previously and I will try and work lyrics around his melodies. Alternatively, I’ll bring a melody I’ve created on piano and Josh will produce around that. Sometimes Josh strips back the instrumentals so that they are not too busy and I can fit my vocal melodies around it.
Josh: My original instrument is the guitar. I love the process of writing and recording melodies and chord progressions on it. The ideas flow out better when I’m writing guitar parts.
I’ll try to then take those melodies and translate them to synths or sounds to give these melodies a different feel or sharper edge...
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Speaking of musical childhoods, you were brought up in Australia but also have a Japanese heritage. Have you spent much time in Japan?
Amy: We used to go there a lot when we were younger, particularly to the remote town where our grandparents live called Aomori. It’s in a little fishing village – I think there are about sixty people that live there – and behind our grandparents’ house is this really beautiful forest, and in front is the ocean.
Josh: It’s really beautiful, there’s nothing to do but eat and be with family, just relax and detach from the world. It felt like the perfect getaway to creatively focus, and Amy spent many hours upstairs in the snow-capped homestead writing lyrics and music.
We finished off all the demos at our home on the Gold Coast in Australia. Then we finished off most of the tracks with our friend Cassian when we were in Los Angeles.
How has growing up on the Gold Coast informed your sound? What is the music scene like there?
Not particularly, though there are definitely some great artists in the Gold Coast/Brisbane area. Two artists we really like at the movement are Alone and Collar.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews some specificities of the meanings behind certain elements of your sound and lyrics. One that particularly caught my attention was the song No Time which draws inspiration from Kazuo Ishiguro’s dystopian novel Never Let Me Go. What was it about this novel that inspired you to write No Time
Amy: For me, Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel explored the themes of releasing yourself from negative thoughts, and growing from our disappointments and failures. It also has a strong message about living life to its fullest potential because, as clichéd as it may be, life really is short and everything happens for a reason. Fantastic read.
Josh: I tried to reflect some of these sentiments in the production, I feel the vocal ooh’s and guitar plucking pick up on these moods and feelings.
In terms of your album more generally – it all feels incredibly futuristic and gives this distinct sentiment of being thrust into the centre of a sci-fi film. What else do you look to for finding the inspiration for your music?
Amy: A lot of our favourite Sci-Fi films have really beautiful cinematography – Josh and I both find a lot of inspiration from watching these movies, especially while we write. It is almost like we are scoring the movie.
Josh: Beyond Sci-Fi, Amy was certainly inspired on one of her trips to Japan, as most of the lyrics were written on a trip visiting our grandparents. Japan itself reflects a lot of the Sci-Fi elements, we tried to convey this in our album trailer.
We draw a lot of inspiration from the artists in the electronic sphere that we feel are pushing and experimenting with exciting sounds. Some that come to mind are Jacques Greene, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Apparat and Moderat. We are also both really inspired by art, design and photography/film and definitely bring these creative interests into the world of Lastlings.
The title of the album is First Contact, which conjures up images of newness and realms of the undiscovered being experienced for the very first time. What are you trying to portray through this title?
First Contact is about the moments that you experience for the first time, how special and surreal they are, and the influence they have on our lives. Moments and experiences like first love, first heartbreak, first flight or even your first time at a new destination.
We want this album to spark all the beautiful memories, feelings and emotions that you feel when you experience something for the first time. All the tracks on the album are stories, lessons, moments and experiences that have happened from the end of high school, up until now.
Where did you come up with the name Lastlings?
Josh: Lastlings was initially the title of a short story that I wrote a long time ago in high school. It’s about the survivors of an apocalyptic event, where nature has reclaimed the cities, nothing is open and the 'lastlings' are the only remaining people on Earth. Coincidentally, we now have somewhat of a dystopian aesthetic.
In 2017 you took on a regional tour with the renowned Rüfüs Du Sol, who have also released a remix of one of your songs. How did the tour go?
Josh: We supported them a few years ago for their rural Australian shows and became friends after that. I remember we were all hanging out after the sunshine coast show. It was one of our most memorable shows because it absolutely poured down with rain but everyone was vibing so hard they didn't care it was so muddy – and the boys were talking about starting a label.
We were lucky to be invited back to do a few more support slots with them and had since demoed out some new music that they could see potential in and something that they would release under their Rose Ave label.
Amy: We were blown away by their remix of No Time. Our first thought was ‘oh no, this is going to be better than the original!’
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What would you say you’ve taken away from such an experience?
We are really lucky to have them in our lives. They have been really great mentors for us. They have definitely inspired us a lot when it comes to the studio and live shows. They gave us a lot of tips and feedback on the album, which we found really helpful and beneficial.
What does Lastlings have in store for the future?
We were thinking of moving interstate soon for a change of scenery and spark some new inspiration but with Covid happening, we’re just waiting to see if it would actually be viable for us. I think it would be really great for us to be somewhere that inspires us to make more music.
What are you most looking forward to?
We're not too sure, to be honest, everything keeps changing because of Covid. We're hoping as restrictions ease here in Australia we'll be able to tour and do festivals here at home. Meanwhile, we'll be working on new music because we don't think international travel will be happening for a little while.