This Artist Created Music Specifically For Watering Your Plants

updated Jun 21, 2019
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Most plant parents know that a regular watering schedule is key to keeping your leaf babies thriving. Perhaps you already pump the jams while tackling this important task, but now there’s a soundtrack made specifically for giving your thirsty stems a drink.

Created by artist Past Palms, the eponymous EP “is a sonic reflection of yearning for nature in a nature-less place. Blending lush ambient soundscapes, warm nature samples, and distorted Lo-Fi beats, the music aims to encapsulate the feeling of surrounding yourself with an oasis of tropical houseplants while living in a grey, industrial city,” he tells Apartment Therapy.

“It’s a reminder that even if you live somewhere full of concrete and devoid of nature, you can still be wild in your home; you can still feel the tranquility of walking through a lush forest or sitting on a palm tree-filled beach. Let the music help you escape next time you go to water your plants,” he adds. “And if you don’t have plants, go out today and buy one!” Advice we can definitely get behind.

More from our email interview with Past Palms below.

Apartment Therapy: What got you into plants? How many do you have? What was your first? Your favorite?

Past Palms: Ever since I was a child, I have always loved nature and felt most at home being surrounded by greenery. I grew up in Richmond, VA, with constant exposure to deep green grass, tall trees, lush forests, and the ever-flowing James River. When I moved to New York City, suddenly, all of that was gone. My first apartment didn’t have much light, so keeping plants alive wasn’t really an option. My current home, on the other hand, has nine large windows, and I have been collecting plants non-stop ever since I moved in. As I type this, I have 54 plants, ranging in size from one inch to eight feet tall.

My partner gifted me a tiny snake plant years ago, and while it wasn’t my first plant, it was the first one I kept alive, which really set my passion aflame. It was probably the smallest snake plant you could buy, and it was likely the only thing that could survive in my old dark apartment. Today, it has nearly tripled in size, and I just gave it a new pot.

As for my favorite plant, that is a tough one! I have a particularly strong connection with my Bird of Paradise. It was the first large tropical plant I took under my care, plus, it was a gift from my mom. It was about four feet when I brought it home, and now, its tallest leaf is roughly eight feet high. I’m constantly amazed by its growth and elegance. But when it comes to my favorite plant based off of pure beauty and care, the answer is easily the Kentia Palm. Palm trees melt my heart, and the Kentia is perfect because not only is it stunningly gorgeous, but it tolerates low light and neglect better than any other palm tree. It is the perfect indoor plant in my eyes.

Credit: djscribbles

AT: What’s the inspiration behind the song titles?

PP: Each song on the Past Palms EP is named after a plant or plant features. It opens with “I. Unfurl,” which represents the beginning of a plant, or in this case, a new frond on a palm tree unfurling. “II. Kentia” is for the Kentia Palm, my favorite plant. “III. Livistona” is actually the scientific name for the Chinese Fan Palm — one of my other favorite plants. I bought one from Tula House in Greenpoint as I was getting started on writing the EP, and put it right on my desk in front of my laptop, so when I was writing the music, its gorgeous, fan-shaped fronds arched over my workspace. “IV. Majesty” is named after the Majesty Palm, which is the first palm tree I ever bought, even though it sadly died on me. I adore this plant and its beauty, but they are very tough to keep alive indoors.

If and when I finally move to a warmer climate, I want to grow several outdoors, where they can actually flourish. “V. Bloom” is named after the ultimate beauty a plant can show you: its flowers. While most indoor palm trees do not bloom, they do bloom in their natural habitat, and it’s remarkable. I have plants that bloom indoors, and I can assure you there is nothing that makes a plant parent prouder than seeing their baby flower.

Lastly, the project is called Past Palms based off of a joke about how I feel like I could have been a palm tree in a past life because of how much I crave hot, sunny, tropical weather, and how much I wither during the winter.

AT: Do you have a favorite track?

PP: When writing the EP, I actually envisioned it being one continuous song, with every sub-song flowing into the next. But I decided to break them up into vignettes to establish different characteristics. While each serve their purpose, I feel especially close to “V. Bloom” because of how lush and bright it is, while still feeling melancholic and dark. It represents the pure beauty of a new flower, but also the flower’s inevitable death. I love the journey the song takes, from its slow and ambient start to the loud and chaotic climax. Then, it slowly fades into the nature samples we hear in the beginning of the EP and throughout. It’s the longest song on with the most clear beginning, middle, and end. I envision a flower blooming and dying as I listen.

AT: Studies have shown that plants enjoy music and other sounds—was that part of your thinking for this project? Or is it more for the plant parents?

PP: I have actually tried playing music for my plants before, mainly classical, but I can’t honestly tell if they like it! When I wrote this EP, I kept repeating the phrase, “music to water your plants to.” I wanted to create a short listening experience for plant parents to use as a soundtrack as they care for their babies. Specifically, I was thinking of city-dwelling plant parents like myself. For those of us who live in big cities like New York, the plants we keep in our home are usually the only nature we have in our lives. So, I wanted to give them something to listen to that would help set the mood for a tropical excursion; an escape into a greener world where our connection to nature is much stronger.

I chose to keep it short—only fifteen minutes—and once that time is up, most of your plants should be good to go (depending on how many you have to water, of course). Caring for your plants can be a very meditative and even spiritual experience, and I think having the proper music to enhance that experience really helps take you to a more present and connected state of mind. Plants emit an energy, and music is one of the greatest conveyers of energy we have. When paired together, there is a conversation, and my hope for Past Palms is to stimulate a positive exchange of energy between the plant, the parent, and the music.

Credit: Lee Barnes

AT: Why do you think millennials love houseplants so much (even though they did not invent them)?

PP: I think as millennials continue to put off buying homes and instead choose to rent in big cities, we will continue to seek out nature in creative ways. We don’t have backyards, and we often live in industrial areas where the only exposure to nature is a couple trees on your walk to the train. Our plants are all we have, really.

Also, our generation is much more aware of climate change than our parents’, and I think as a way to really express our respect for the earth, we want to learn to care for it by nurturing plants. We aren’t having children as early, either, and it feels good to take care of something. Depending on your level of dedication, caring for a plant doesn’t require much work, but the payoff is huge. We may not be human parents, but we’re still proud of our plant babies when they grow new leaves!

AT: Did you choose to release the EP on the solstice for a reason?

PP: Ironically enough, I wrote the whole Past Palms EP during the winter. I was so dismayed by the cold and lack of sun, that I really needed something to bring me to a warmer (and greener) place mentally. It only felt right to release the songs in the summer, and what better day than the solstice, the brightest day of the year? I want people to be able to listen to the music year-round, but this is definitely music for warm, sunny days, when the sun is shining into your home, your windows are open, the wind is blowing in, and your plants are soaking in the natural light. Since I was writing this EP to help me escape the winter, it feels right to let go of it now that the summer is finally here.

Past Palms is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud and YouTube.