NYC's Animals Head to Austin for SXSW

Animals. creators Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano joined producer Jen Roskind for a South by Southwest panel hosted by Indiewire's Eric Kohn. The pair (who play two parts of the same worm in the new season of the animated series) shared thoughts on their process, musical guests and what to expect from Season 2. Check out the major highlights from the panel.


1. The series was picked up with the first two episodes already fully animated.
"When you're pitching a show you usually go in with just a pitch or a first script, but we gave them two episodes and a lot of stuff," said Matarese. "We just believe in making as much of the thing as you can on your own … You have to give them your imagination."

2. The people behind the mics aren't all actors.
"We just want our influences to be in the show as much as possible, and make it a fun grab bag to feel more authentic," shared Matarese. "We have musicians doing voices this season, like Kesha and Usher, and even behind-the-camera people like [filmmaker] Harmony Korine. You partner these people with really funny UCB-like improvisers and you get the best of both worlds, just super funny and realistic conversations."

3. The scripts aren't fully scripted.
"We do it as an outline," revealed Luciano. "And then once we get [in the sound booth] it's a free-for-all. Something will come up, and with animation you can just figure it out later. We'll do that a lot, where we'll go, 'OK let's try following this thread we didn't plan on, but can kind of see how it will work.'"

4. The "animals" don't require much coaching.
"We really want everyone to be themselves," said Matarese. "We just want it to feel like a conversation with microphones. Now, I think 20 episodes down, we really know the rhythms. Mike will know to have them say a word he needs to stitch something together. It's a little strange, sometimes a little stilted, but overall it feels really good and really organic."

5. There will be more rapping in Season 2 -- and it will features foxes.
When asked about the different animation for last season's bodega cat rap, Matarese responded, "Music's a huge part of the show, and we want to make sure every episode has something that excites us, so a lot of times that's breaking form."

Along with original songs by artists like Ty Segall and Kim Gordon, Season 2 will also feature new raps, including a piece from Killer Mike and Big Boi as foxes with a pigeon problem, and their own unique animation.

6. Usher is cooler than all of us.
This season will feature several musicians and fans wanted to know if any of them surprised the creators with their performances. "Kesha was so funny," shared Luciano, "And Usher [forthcoming as a young pigeon named Miles] walked up to the microphone and just started singing. He was so easy and cool."

"Butter. His voice was butter," joked Matarese. "He was wearing a blue navy jumpsuit and he looked so cool."

7. Season 2 will have a live-action episode -- starring RuPaul.
"We knew we wanted to package each season with something that serialized the series and rewarded viewers for watching all 10 episodes," Matarese said. "Season 1 was this political drama, and this season is kind of a sci-fi thing, following this guy, Dr. Labcoat, the CEO of this really big corporation that may or may not be poisoning New York City. It has a really good payoff mid-season with a live action episode, where RuPaul is the bad guy."

Watch Season 1 of Animals. on HBO GO and HBO NOW and catch Season 2 Fridays at 11:30 PM.

Watch Animals.

  1. TelevisionWed, May 24, 3:35AM ETEpisode 20: Episode Twenty: Dog.HBO EAST
  2. NOW & GOAvailable
  3. On Demand20 episodes available