Words on Plant Music.
by David Edren, from an original interview by Jean-Marie Pottier
for Libération / June 2019
... For me the most inescapable truth about the matter, scientifically speaking, is that plants have a totally different time awareness compared to us. But in the case of the Mimosa Pudica and Codariocalyx Motorius; we see two plant-beings wading into our known territory of time perception."
Do you remember how you discovered Mort Garson's "Plantasia", and what interested or fascinated you in that record?
I am a big fan of early melodic synthesizer music and electronic library music from the 60's-70's. Raymond Scott, Roger Roger, Piero Umiliani and naturally you come to Mort Garson. I think i first heard his 'Electronic Hair Pieces' followed by the incredible 'Black Mass' and Ataraxia albums. His works really have a specific vibe going. Everything is so balanced and thought out and produced really well. The Plantasia album is no exception and when you first come across it, it of course has an impact; the sleevedesign, the whole concept behind it, the booklet and everything.. It's also quite funny and the overall feeling it protrudes stuck with me.
Are you a "believer" in the theory that music can stimulate the growth of a plant? That their growth might be stimulated by vibrations or waves, and that they might "feel" music like a person?
I'm not sure if that really matters here. Also i never thought of it as a serious scientific aspect of the whole 'music for plants' idea.. For me however it's pretty obvious that many things have an effect on any lifeform and so any sort of stimulation can positively (or negatively for that matter) affect your environment.. But talking about 'music for plants', i think it's mostly designed for the enjoyment of people, a means to let them think about plants and to positively affect peoples' relationship with them. I think actually compare a plant to a human, and to attribute them with same sensory perception as humans, would be unlogical; but i think it is rather poetic to look at and treat plants like a person. For me the most inescapable truth about the matter, scientifically speaking, is that plants have a totally different time awareness compared to us. And of course music, as we mostly define it, is really a time-bound delimitation that works in our time frame. This is exactly what inspired me to make 'Music For Mimosa Pudica & Codariocalyx".
I was wondering if you could explain a little more what you mean by "a totally different time awareness compared to us" and "a time-bound delimitation that works in our time frame", and the inspiration that gave you for the album?
It's sort of like the meeting point in time of two worlds almost. The plant world is immensely slow compared to our world, but here we see two plant-beings wading into our known territory of time perception. A very magical event for sure. And as sound is really a perception of time-related harmonic content it seemed like a nice thought: what if we try communicate sounds towards these beings. Not in a pure scientific way but like you would do when you were a child. From your own thought of interest and your own gut feeling, that isn't scientifically based at all.
What gave you the idea of recording the plant album "Music For Mimosa Pudica & Codariocalyx"? And what were your melodic or sonic intentions while writing these tracks – in which ways were you considering that you were writing "plant music"?
The idea started being involved in this project by Sigrid Volders and Narelle Dore called Earth.Rope.Pot.Plant. They were making a book and asked me if i'd be interested in making music to accompany it. The book puts forth this great vibe of artists working with and around nature and being inspired by it and so it also inspired me a lot. I immediately thought about making a 'music for plants album of course! So this instigated the whole process.
At first my idea was to make sounds for the plants themselves, but if i really wanted to archieve this it probably would have sounded awful for a human to enjoy.. I was thinking about these long minimal soundwaves, directly stimulating the plants' microcells. It's nice to ponder on, but for me not really in musical terms, so i dropped it eventually. It also felt a bit too scientific and i thought i'd have more enjoyment out of childishly inventing my own poetic science: finding a way to dedicate music to these specific plants; but for a focusgroup of humans to make them enjoy and feel a closeness towards these beings. I think there's definitely also a sort of nature documentary vibe going on, stylistically speaking. I specifically chose two plants as my main focus. They are one of the only plants that can move their leaves fast enough for a human to notice. This also opened up the idea of a very possible direct communication through a similar perception of time. So i decided to grow those plants myself out of seedlings and use this experience as direct inspiration to make the music.
What was the influence of this experience on the record – did the plants grow well?
I got really infatuated with those two plants because they really are so special! So i started to grow both plants from seeds i obtained, and so it was a really wonderful experience to see them grow up and even take their first steps towards movement. In this way, observing and nurturing them directly inspired me in making the album; each track referencing a certain detail of the experience. Sort of like a diary but not directly illustrative. Coming up with sounds that sort of represent what i observed.
Plant music sometimes seems to have an hippie or new age connotation that might sound quite depreciative for a musician. What do you think of that ?
People seem to often use those terms when talking about others working with nature or environmental elements and who gear towards poetic beauty, friendliness and even love. I really feel it's better to have a positive attitude and openness towards others. I don't even mind that people might think of me like that, but to be honest it would be rather silly.