Apollo Vermouth Expands Her Ambient Vision on "Crashing into Nowhere"
Discovering Apollo Vermouth’s music can feel a bit like getting into a TV show that’s already been on for six seasons—exhilarating, yes, but also daunting, since you’ll have some catching up to do. Since she began exploring ambient music as a teenager seven years ago, Apollo Vermouth’s Alisa Rodriguez has released at least 10 albums, EPs and splits under the moniker, some minor variations of their predecessors, others radical breaks.
“They almost come too fast sometimes,” Rodriguez says of her releases. “Sometimes I feel super compelled to record or to do something, so I’ll just go out and do it. That was how I worked when I first started out. I felt like I had so much in me that I needed to record, then, after a while, I started looking at my Bandcamp and realized I have too many releases, almost. I was thinking about the audience feeling overwhelmed. There are some acts out there that have hundreds of releases, so you never know where to start. I don’t want to be that person who makes music for the sake of making music.”
And so, for her new album, Crashing into Nowhere, Rodriguez did something she’s never done before: She slowed down. The album arrives more than two years after her last major Apollo Vermouth release, and although she didn’t completely stop recording during the interim—she posted a few enchanting, barely promoted releases under the moniker A Crushed Rose to Bandcamp—she challenged herself to record less—and only when inspiration struck. “The last thing I want to do is force myself,” she says. “I was recording when I felt compelled.”
In part, because of that break, Crashing into Nowhere feels both like both a fresh start and a reintroduction. Conveniently, it’s also a welcoming entry point for newcomers who understandably don’t want to commit to catching up on hours of music that Rodriguez herself admits isn’t always an easy sell.
“My parents will listen to the music and they’ll say it just sounds like the same thing over and over,” she says. “It’s hard for people to understand it, and it’s hard for even me to say what people should take away from it. I feel like it’s something you just experience. For me, the reason I make this kind of music is to deal with a lot of personal things. It’s easier for me to express myself through music than through talking.”
As with most Apollo Vermouth releases, the songs on Crashing Into Nowhere draw their power from slight deviations instead of dynamic shifts, summoning a surprisingly vast range of emotions from a very limited range of sounds. But the record also expands the project’s scope in some significant ways. Released on cassette through the boutique New York label Orchid Tapes and mastered by label founder Warren Hildebrand, who gives the album a professional finish none of its rough-edged predecessors had, it features several collaborations, a significant departure for what had always previously been a one-woman project.
The ambient artist Wretched Excess lends some subtle loops to the delicate “He Dreamt of Blue Skies.” More radically, the album features vocals for the first time on an Apollo Vermouth project. A pair of Rodriguez’s friends wrote lyrics for and sang on two romantic, downtempo numbers: Travis Johnson on “Always There” and Eli Smith on “Reflections Of.”
“It can feel a little weird, putting your music in somebody else’s hands,” Rodriguez says. “But I gave it to two people that I really trust and that I admire musically, so in some ways it wasn’t as nerve-wracking as it probably sounds. It felt good giving my friends a piece of my music and saying, ‘I trust you.’”
Tucked on the album’s second half after three cinematic instrumentals, those vocal tracks hint at the dreamier, poppier directions Apollo Vermouth could take going forward. Rodriguez provides some half-buried vocals of her own on the album’s closing title track and says she hopes to do more singing on future projects, but that’ll take some resolve.
“I’ve always kind of admired pretty much anybody who can just go up on stage and sing,” she says. “For me, it’s a scary experience, and I’m not used to it. I guess I don’t like the sound of my voice so much when I sing. Then again, I don’t think anybody likes the sound of their own voice.”
Apollo Vermouth and Honeymooners kick off their tour to the East Coast with a free show at the Riverwest Public House on Tuesday, July 25 at 7 p.m. featuring Broodmother and Sugar Stems.