If you spent any time basking in the freshers’ week sunshine on Library Square, you may already have caught a glimpse of Lucy Rice, lilting, keyboard in hand, under the moniker Last Apollo at a pop-up Trinity Ents gig. The third-year music student wasn’t always front and centre, however. From her mid-teens right up until last year, she has predominantly performed in a band with friends, though she “was never really satisfied in that band”, she shares in hindsight. “It was really fun to play in, and very fun to play live but I was really bad at writing for it”. Their “classic like college band music” sound stood at odds with Rice’s eclectic range of musical influences, leaving her “assuming that the style of songs [she] wrote were terrible because they weren’t the same style” as theirs.
Navigating the absence of live gigs, alongside a break-up in her personal life, put a real spanner in the works for Rice in 2020. “I was just like ‘fuck it! I’m gonna just start doing my own thing’.” The convergence of these endings, of sorts, resulted in a new lease of confidence for Rice, who quickly began producing music as Last Apollo, a venture she describes as “a solo thing – but I do have a group of people who are really supportive and help out a lot”.
So, what’s in the name? Like many’s a funky-sounding musician before her, Rice immediately cringes. “I was lying in bed and I was like, if there’s one thing I don’t want to be asked, it’s that.” Despite her protestations that the moniker holds little meaning, its backstory is multi-layered. Crucially, Apollo was the Olympian God of music, among other things, and just “a sicko” in general, I’m told. Secondly, Rice has a penchant for all things space-related, and so, enjoys the coincidental nod to the Apollo missions. Following many failed campaigns to rebrand her previous band “Apollo”, she reclaimed the title upon going solo. However, she felt as though it needed a word before it, and “picked ‘last’ but it could have been any word”, she confesses.
In terms of her sound, Rice situates herself firmly within the rock genre, though there’s “some complex stuff going on”, in places where her classical training becomes apparent, she acknowledges. She strives to create “really accessible music that’s not just like, pop or like, indie”, moulding her sound or musical genre around the “meaning or the vibe or the theme” of each individual song.
Friends and fans can enjoy a real taste of this sound in coming weeks, as Rice begins to release a series of three singles, her first as Last Apollo. The first, “Moon Boots” comes out on October 29th and delves into the sensations of missing someone. The song was inspired by her sister’s emigration to Canada three years ago, though the same sentiment can be applied to copious situations, she states. “It’s kind of just learning to live knowing that you’re not going to be aware of what’s going on in their lives every day.”
“Moon Boots” will be succeeded by “Bob Ross”, the first song Rice wrote “after like a year’s writer’s block”, at which point people were telling her that her “music wasn’t that great”. One night, while upset, she wrote the song and realised, “this kind of slaps”, sewing the first seeds of confidence which would later see her take the leap into solo performance. It’s “a song about feeling like the main character again and feeling confident again”, she elaborates. “I’ve sung it live three times and it’s the coolest thing ever because the whole crowd is like ‘Yeah, yeah, this is how I want to feel’.” Finally, comes “Reservoir”, “a really cute and fuzzy song … about my boyfriend but I don’t ever say that”, Rice explains. “I always just say it’s about someone that you care about loads.”
These three releases signify a lift-off for Last Apollo, who remains “very excited” about where she currently is as an artist. “I’ve been asked to play a couple of gigs and it’s kind of fun to not be the one asking now”, she notes. “I feel like I’m in a teenage adolescent musical phase of this career.” With a strong focus on mental health through her online platforms and a sound that’ll make you sit up and listen, it seems that, for Last Apollo, the only way is up.
Last Apollo’s first single “Moon Boots” will be available on all major streaming platforms from October 29th.