Patrick Watson: Love in the Age of Zeros and Ones | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Patrick Watson

Love in the Age of Zeros and Ones

May 04, 2015 Patrick Watson
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Patrick Watson’s forthcoming sixth album Love Songs for Robots is a heady slice of pop. Its deliciously meandering songs are marked with layers of acoustic guitars, gentle waves of synth, and falsetto vocals. But for all the well-trodden adjectives that could be thrown at the song-cycle—atmospheric, hazy, and cinematic among them—eponymous frontman Patrick Watson prefers accidental. Or perhaps even, fateful. All thanks to a radio preset button.

“We got this rental car, and the first station that came on was The Wave,” says Watson with a laugh, name-checking Los Angeles’ local soft rock radio station. “They just rock all those big power pop hits. So we got addicted to driving around palm trees and listening to The Wave. Trying to be Californian. I think it had an enormous influence on the record. For better or for worse. ‘Hollywood’ wouldn’t sound the way it does if we hadn’t listened to The Wave. And ‘Know that You Know.’

Watson and his bandmates Mishka Stein, Robbie Kuster, Joe Grass often make an adventure out of recording albums, previously having trekked from their homes in Montreal, Canada to both Iceland and France in the name of livening up the proceedings. It’s a playful tradition between friends that helps undercut the seriousness of the process. After all, a great deal of thought goes into a Patrick Watson album. Watson himself doesn’t shy away from that fact. The very title Love Songs for Robots is enough to give him away. Science, he says, can be just as passionate and multifaceted as human emotion.

“Everyone looks at math, and they think it’s a human way of interpreting the universe around them,” he muses. “What if you have it upside down? What if math is the actual language of the universe and we’re learning how to speak it? It’s a beautiful thing rather than this cold analytical thing. The root language of how things around us work.”

So one day, will we be forced to confront that the way the universe works is bigger than humanity’s current breath of knowledge, emotions, and reach? Yes, says Watson. And that’s not a bad thing.

“That’s what the title is about for me,” he confirms. “I’m not a mathematician. I don’t claim to be. I just like to read the journals. I find those people inspiring, what they come up with. But I definitely don’t claim to be smart! I’m just some musician singing whatever that means.”

Despite this sudden swerve into profundity, Watson denies that he’s analytical, even though elements of his concise thought pattern inform every aspect of the conversation. He does, however, make it clear that he approaches his art with a surgeon’s level of attention to detail. So much in fact that, save for once in a blue moon, he can’t listen to his music without picturing all the things he wishes that he could do differently.

“Sometimes the record will come on,” Watson admits, once again punctuating the statement with a self-deprecating laugh. “And it will be in the right moment in the right time. And I’ll hear my music outside of the whole nonsense. And I’ll be like, ‘Wow, that was really fun to listen to.’ That happens pretty rarely. Most of the time it’s like ‘Oh long bangs! That’s really not cool anymore.’ Most of the time.”



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