The Underground Experience Feature 2-28-023 Animalweapon


Mistajay:  What is the story and conception behind your artist name?

Animalweapon: It’s a pretty simple, pretty dumb story. I was reading a Deadpool comic (and not to be this guy but it feels pertinent to add this was years before the movie and the ubiquity of Deadpool stickers on everyone’s car) and Deadpool was injecting hamsters with rabies and stuffing them into the barrel of a shotgun. Then a bill collector came to his door and there was a hilarious panel of a hamster flying out of the barrel, foaming at the mouth. So somehow “animal weapon,” as in a weapon that actually fires animals out of it, came to mind. I think I might briefly have tried it out as two words before deciding I liked it better as one. Jury’s still out on whether taking the space out was a good idea.

(Here’s that panel if you’d like to include it.)

Mistajay: What area are you reppin? What is the music scene like there?

Animalweapon: Raleigh! We have a pretty cool and diverse music scene, with just enough of a hole in the exact kind of music I do to carve my own little niche, which can be a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s challenging but when you get that occasionally really good show, it feels worth it.

Mistajay: What are your overall influences of your music? And what inspires you?

Animalweapon: Besides the actual artists I’m influenced by, it’s mostly life experiences. Heartbreak, loss, depression, anxiety are obvious drivers to some of that but I’d like to think people notice a sense of hope, especially in my newer stuff. A little fun and a little arrogance sprinkled in there, too. All of that stuff inspires me to write the most honest music I can, which is the most important part. Regardless of how I feel later on down the line about the music I’ve made, it’s always been an honest representation of where my head was at when I wrote it.

Mistajay: How do you describe your style of music?

Animalweapon: This is always a tough one, because I have to word it carefully so I don’t come off like “my music is unique and you can’t fit it in a box.” It’s not that - it’s just that it’s kind of all over the place, but still under the general umbrella of “electronic,” which is admittedly a big-ass umbrella. Some of it’s poppy, some of it’s more intense and occasionally angry, some of it’s moody, some of it’s atmospheric and vibey. My people and I have settled on “electronic dream-pop.” I guess that fits as well as anything else.

Mistajay: You won a 2017 Webby Award for Best Sound Design/Original Music Score for his work on the hit podcast Undisclosed, which was the follow-up to the #1 iTunes media phenomenon Serial.  What is your best song recorded to date and why?

Animalweapon: It’s hard, so I’m gonna have to give you a few. I feel like the “media-trained” (yuck) answer is supposed to be something from my newest album. Some of that stuff is up there with my best work, but I still think songs Fourth Quarter and Turn the Lights Down are my best ever . My good friend Marlon [aka Polychromatic Records artist NEW EX] tells me I’m most in the pocket when I’m doing the more heartfelt and atmospheric stuff and I tend to agree. As far as the louder stuff, Night Maneuvers and Know What You Are are my favorites. 

Mistajay: Hopscotch Music Festival If you could work with any other 3 artists or bands who are still around and touring, who would they be and why?

Animalweapon: Phantogram are the first people that come to mind. Those two are so talented and they just seem like they’d be so much fun to be around and work with, and I know from people that know and have worked or toured with them that they are. Bas is another - I draw a lot of influence from hip hop and he is easily one of my favorite rappers ever, period. I also don’t really care how anyone reacts to this one way or another but I genuinely think Taylor Swift is one of the best songwriters of our generation and I’d love to even be in the room with her. A lot of people that know me are always surprised when I say I wouldn’t want to work with Trent Reznor, but if you know how monumental and sacred Nine Inch Nails is to me you can probably understand why.

Mistajay: You also composed the mysterious otherworldly theme song for the highly anticipated new podcast called The Hidden Djinn that debuted September 1, 2020 on iHeartMedia hosted by Rabia Chaudry, attorney, New York Times best-selling author, producer and co-host of popular criminal justice podcast Undisclosed; and co-produced by Aaron Mahnke, writer of Lore on Amazon and produced by the team from The Walking Dead.  Please describe how you you made this opportunity happen and what it has meant to you career.

Animalweapon: It’s still surreal to me that working with Rabia has been the biggest, most impactful, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done with my career and that it literally happened overnight with one tweet. I was a fan of Undisclosed when they were only a few episodes in, and when I started following her on Twitter I noticed how engaged she was with people, so one night I just shot my shot and tweeted at her offering my services. I woke up the next morning to a tweet back with her putting me in touch with her producer, Rebecca Lavoie and we just went from there. A couple years after my work for Undisclosed was over, she asked me to do the theme for The Hidden Djinn and I was really happy to oblige. 

Mistajay: A lot of artists/producers come into the game with a lot of ambition but don’t spend time learning the business side. How important to you is learning about publishing and royalties?

Animalweapon: Oh man, I still haven’t wrapped my head around all that shit. I don’t know if it’s that I’m not sharp enough for it or what, but even when you’re small time, the “business” part really sucks, and for any and every cool opportunity you get, there can also come a lot of frustrating rules and politics. I haven’t “made it” by any stretch of the imagination and even I have to think twice about what I tweet. That’s why I’m eternally grateful I have someone like Scot (my manager/founder of Polychromatic Records) who believes in me and is way better and way smarter at navigating all that shit.

Mistajay: Where do you see the music going in 2022? How do you see yourself fitting into that?

Animalweapon: I picked up TikTok a couple of years ago and it really is changing the game again. There are SO many talented artists that are picking up steam on that platform. Producer TikTok is also critically important - I’ve been producing myself for ten years and I still find myself picking up some great ideas I’d never have thought of on my own. TikTok just feels a lot more personal than stuff like MySpace, Bandcamp or even YouTube, to a degree, ever did. I’m still figuring out exactly how I fit into that equation, and maybe I’m too old to at all, but it’s fascinating to watch while I figure it out.

Mistajay: How has covid 19 situation affected your plans as related to music?

Animalweapon: I know it was tough for a lot of people, but for me it was a net neutral at worst. On one hand, I couldn’t play shows in person, but I did a lot of online streaming sets from my living room and everyone told me that it meant a lot to them to have that to watch in lieu of being able to see live music. I also got so much more music done during the pandemic than I ever had at any other time in my life.

Mistajay: What are your other future plans?.

Animalweapon: I’m back to working on Animalweapon stuff in earnest, but there’s some other projects in the works I’m not quite ready to talk about. I’m just as excited for those. 

Mistajay: where can people find your music?

Animalweapon: Everywhere. It’s on every streaming platform - Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Tidal, etc. - but you can also buy a download or even a CD copy from my website, which I obviously prefer due to how hard the streaming services screw the artists.



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