Bedroom electronic project, Animalweapon hit the ground running early this year with the release of the music video for “Deserve”, the lead single from their new album, Set of Constraints. The cinematic “Deserve” sets the tone for the songs to follow, including the album’s dreamy and atmospheric title track, which finds Animalweapon mastermind Patrick Cortes diving headfirst into new sounds and and a new emotional journey.
Out April 15th, the new batch of songs marks a transitional period in Patrick’s life, touching personal and relatable lyrical themes such as mental health and anxiety. Three years removed from Animalweapon’s last full-length, Tyrannosaurus, Set of Constraints is the product of years of growth and most importantly enjoying the process of writing music. Read what Patrick had to say about the album and plans for the rest of 2022 below.
Prelude Press: You kicked off this year with the music video for “Deserve” and your new single, “Set Of Constraints” from your upcoming album! What has the reception of these new songs been like so far?
Animalweapon: The reception to both has been amazing! I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult to watch the Deserve video because I always feel like I look goofy, but I think it’s a beautifully shot video – almost kind of a mood-piece, really. Scot Dunlap did an amazing job on it; this was all his doing. As for Set of Constraints, it’s tied for my favorite on the album, and one of my favorite things I’ve done in years, so to be getting the reception that I have has been really gratifying.
The new songs are taken from Animalweapon’s upcoming album, Set of Constraints. What are you most excited for fans to hear on the album?
There is a second version of Summer’s Over, featuring a string arrangement from TELALIT that is absolutely breathtaking. It’s probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever been a part of. I’ve never said this about my own work, but: y’all ain’t ready for it.
How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist between the release of Tyrannosaurus in 2019 and Set of Constraints? What have you learned about yourself in that time?
Oh man, so much. The most important lesson I learned from Tyrannosaurus was that music isn’t worth doing if you’re not enjoying it. You don’t have to suffer endlessly to make good art, and I definitely put myself through the wringer, completely unnecessarily. I was way too laser-focused, detail oriented, and got so lost in the repetition that I think at a certain point it became counter-productive. Listening to it now, as much work as I put into it, I feel like it may actually have sounded better if I had given myself more of a break, and maybe gotten some more outside influence on it. Never making that mistake again. Set of Constraints was a much smoother experience. The material itself wasn’t always comfortable to write, but the actual act of putting everything together felt a hundred times easier than it did with Tyrannosaurus. There were very, very few moments where I was driving myself crazy over stuff like mixes or takes. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I didn’t even start off trying to make an album; it was supposed to be an EP.
You’ve mentioned that both Tyrannosaurus and this album tackle some really personal subjects with mental health and anxiety – was there anything in particular that you wanted to touch on with this release?
Each of the two albums are almost steps in that process of dealing with things. With Tyrannosaurus, I was wallowing in all that shit; like I realized it was there but not the severity of it, and I wasn’t doing anything about it. I was just kind of feeling sorry for myself, honestly. The parts of Set of Constraints that deal with those things – which is not the whole album, I want to stress – were more about recognizing things that needed fixing and making an effort. Here’s where I think it’s really important to make a distinction here, which is that this album is not a self-help book and not coming from an enlightened, “See? All better” perspective. The general message is “Alright, let’s get to work.” Maybe the next one will make for a kind of trilogy where I’m mostly on the other side of things.
When writing about such personal subject matter, does it feel a bit cathartic or therapeutic to release it to the world?
It can be, to a degree. There’s value in saying whatever you need to say about whatever it is you wrote about, but there’s of course a lot of anxiety about how it’s going to be received and interpreted. That’s one reason I write songs the way I do, with lots of room for interpretation. Writing a little vaguely or metaphorically not only gives you the chance to project your own meaning into the song, but it also allows me to write about personal stuff with through kind of a veil. It gives me room to express everything but still maintain some privacy, and not feel like you’re reading my diary. Which, I might add, is why I don’t typically like getting into the actual meaning of too many songs when people ask me about them.
What would you like for fans to take away from the album?
Any kind of meaning, really. I’ve talked a lot about the kind of mental health/putting in the work aspects of this album but that’s not all the album is, either. So hopefully they can connect with something on there on a personal level and find some kind of inspiration, but you don’t need to take anything heavy away from it, either. You can just enjoy it. There’s a couple bops on there.
MJ Burns is also featured on multiple songs on Set of Constraints. What do you feel she is able to bring to the sound of the album? What was that collaboration like?
It was so much fun. We became friends bonding over music, and that combined with her being able to sing like a goddamn angel made working with her a no-brainer. I’ve always want to have more women sing on my stuff; those kind of airy vocals fit so well with what I do and just in general it’s nice to have a voice that isn’t mine on some of these songs. The actual process was the most fun I’d had working on music in a really long time. It was all done in a few different nights at my apartment. For the title track, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted, so I put her in front of the microphone with a bunch of reverb on, and we just did a bunch of random ooh’s and ahh’s that I’d rearrange later. We had to keep re-doing takes for that one because MJ would start making whale noises right before the take and one of us would start cracking up. My big regret is not hiding that or MJ’s warmup rendition of “Mr. Sandman” in the mix.
The music video for “Deserve” (which also features MJ Burns) serves as a bit of a love letter to Raleigh. How do you feel the music scene there has helped to shape you as an artist?
I think the biggest thing Raleigh has done is challenge me. There isn’t an enormous scene here for my particular brand of electronic stuff. There’s a healthy club scene, so lots of DJ’s, and there’s a lot of great local bands here, but I’ve always felt a little out of place – too electronic/laptop driven to play shows with some of the bands, but also wildly out of place during a dubstep or EDM night somewhere.
With Set of Constraints out soon, do you have any other big plans in the works? Any shows or tour dates coming up?
Obviously the biggest event coming up is my album release show on April 14 at The Pour House in Raleigh. I’ve got some unbelievable talent supporting me on that bill and I don’t remember the last time I reached this level of insane excitement for a show. I’ve been practicing for weeks. As for the rest, I’m definitely planning on doing shows out of town this year, either as one-off ones on weekends, or a short tour. I’ve got a few in the works that we’re still trying to iron out.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for having me! Album is out 4/15 and album release show will be the day before, 4/14 at The Pour House in Raleigh. Pull up!