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A nautical tale by Erik Appelwick

Tropical Depression front man Erik Appelwick trades in rock for yacht pop.
Tropical Depression hangs out at Icehouse in Minneapolis on Saturday evening.
Image by James Healy
Tropical Depression hangs out at Icehouse in Minneapolis on Saturday evening.

Local musician Erik Appelwick used his English degree to write about life on the water, leading him to make the concept for his project, Tropical Depression’s self-titled debut album, about being on a yacht.

After Appelwick’s electro-rock project Vicious Vicious, he felt like he’d “strangled” his creativity, he said. So he began looking for a way to bounce back and found it in Tropical Depression.

“I started messing around with electronic beats. … I almost rap on one song, which is [expletive] ridiculous because I don’t have any business doing that,” Appelwick said. “I just wanted things to be more energetic and sunny without being annoying. … Like maybe you’re on a boat having a good time.”

In the beginning, Appelwick said he wasn’t going to attach his name to the project.

“It was my intent to just have it float in the stratosphere and see if it picks up tread,” Appelwick said. “I’m not super focused on getting acknowledgment or recognition for things anymore.”

Appelwick made a few songs and sent them to his band. He got a positive response and was convinced to pursue the project. The guys helped him put out the album.

Bandmate Martin Dosh, a friend who also worked with Appelwick on Vicious Vicious, said he loved the funky drums Appelwick planned for Tropical Depression.

Dosh could tell Appelwick wanted to make the music a lot more obvious from previous projects.

“It’s a different approach to forming pop music,” Dosh said. “This music spoke to me in a way that the other stuff didn’t, and it [was] super fun to pick through it.”

Long before Vicious Vicious and playing bass for indie rock band Tapes ‘n Tapes, Appelwick was a confused son of a doctor going to college in South Dakota to please his parents.

“My parents were very conservative … so the idea of [me] being a musician was kind of [a joke],” Appelwick said. “It wasn’t the sort of life that they would have picked out for me.”

Appelwick continued playing music in college. He went to class the first and last day of each semester and majored in English because he enjoyed literature and thought it would be easy, he said.

“Every kid in elementary school had to do that thing where they write down [what they want to be when they grow up] and they’re like, ‘I want to be Big Bird and a garbage can!’ Nobody really knows,” he said. “I think you should be scared of those kids that are like, ‘I want to be a corporate attorney’ and then that’s what they become.”

After school, Appelwick moved to Minneapolis, where he’s been living and making music for more than a decade.

During the day he writes music for businesses. At night, he works on his own material. Appelwick spends at least eight hours a day, five days a week working on music, he said. When he has a minute free, he eats watermelon and watches TV.

In Tropical Depression, Appelwick builds all the instruments on top of each other to create a wall of sound. The process of building is the best part, he said.

He starts with the drums, then layers on guitars and synths to “make weird sounds.” The lyrics are more difficult to create, he said.

     “When it comes to talking about the emotional things I feel, that’s not really [my strong suit],” Appelwick said. “I’m actually a lot better at music than I am at English.”


What: Graveyard Club, Tropical Depression and BBGUN

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Where: Turf Club; 1601 University Ave., St. Paul

Cost: $6-$8

Age: 21+

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