Tech by VICE

Watch This DJ Make Trap Music Using a Cactus

The weirdest thing about this is that he is not the first to use a succulent to make some sweet tunes.

by Daniel Oberhaus
Apr 10 2016, 4:00pm

Image: Gourski.

As any artist will tell you, it's impossible to know when inspiration will strike. For Daniel Gourski, a DJ based in Cologne, Germany, it was while he was watering his plants. He noticed that the needles of his barrel cactus were producing some interesting sounds and so he brought this observation to its obvious conclusion: a trap song.

According to Gourski, after noticing the singular sound made from plucking individual cactus needles he began to formulate a melody around these sounds. He produced 'Cactus Trap' using only the sounds produced from individual needles on the cactus and an underlying deep bass rhythm. He didn't alter the pitch of the cactus sounds, but did equalize them and applied a compressor, an effects unit used in electronic music to reduce loud sounds or amplify quiet ones, thereby compressing the range of the audio.

From there it was merely a matter of finding a bass rhythm that fit the cactus tones. Trap music is defined by its use of 808s, artificially rendered deep bass kick drums, to propel its rhythms and according to Gourski, an 808-heavy bass track was the most fitting addition to the cactus sounds. Thus Cactus Trap was born.

Although Gourski is likely the first to have used a cactus to make trap music, the use of succulents to produce music is a well-established genre. Known as 'amplified cactus,' this genre was pioneered by renowned American composer John Cage in the 70s, when he used cacti and other plant material to make the songs "Child of Tree" and "Branches" as part of broader experiments in aleatoric, or chance, music.

At this point Gourski is unsure of whether he will continue to produce music using cacti, but says he is open to the idea.

"It's totally fun to lay down some ideas and try something you never did before," Gourski told me over email. "[After Cactus Trap] I bought a little tape recorder which I will always take with me now."

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