Mycelium Song: An interview with Jasmine Blackmoore

Jasmine Blackmoore

Interview by Chloé Eathorne

Artist Jasmine Blackmoore, self-described as a Caravan dwelling synth goblin in the deep dark badlands of Kernow, studies Marine & Natural History Photography at Falmouth University. Alongside their experimental photography, they produce music inspired by plant sounds under the name Ghost Pipe. Their film ‘Mycelium Song’ received the judge’s prize at Falmouth Art Gallery’s Imagine Falmouth 2022. We spoke to Jasmine about their creative process and what we can learn from nature.

MOOF: What was your inspiration behind Ghost pipe?

Jasmine Blackmoore: I was brought up in the 90s with a lot of counterculture influence, especially the free party scene. I have a particular love for electronic music, especially the weirder stuff, which I have my uncle to blame for that, he makes music under the name Goran Goras. I moved to Cornwall when I was 15, and the underground rave scene was flourishing with a variety of electronic genres, so my interests and tastes expanded in many directions. One of the most notable influences for the plant music and sound design of Ghost Pipe is Mort Garson, who made music for plants with Moog synths to help them grow. The album Plantasia has been one of my favourite albums since I was a teenager. I’m also a forager and love nerding out over plants and fungi so there’s that crossover as well.

MOOF: AND THE NAME‘Ghost pipe’?

Ghost pipe is a type of flower. It’s a beautiful ghostly pearl-white plant that doesn’t produce chlorophyll. Instead of getting energy from the sun, it taps into a mushroom’s mycelium roots and gains its nutrients from the plants and trees which the mycelium has a symbiotic relationship with. I’m fascinated by them; I also tap into plants and fungi to make my music like a Ghost Pipe.

MOOF: What is your process like capturing and creating celestial plant sounds?

My process involves using a device that measures and maps the plants’ biorhythm signals mapping the body of the plant through root to leaves. I then run that data through a synth to create music from it. The sound of the plant gives a sonic representation of the sound and feel of the plant, each one is different. I enjoy creating sonic landscapes mimicking or reimagining how elements of nature would sound. I also collaborate with a geode called Gossen, we create more experimental music together by looping my plant music through different effects and devices which range from lush ambience to harsh noise and a lot of weirdness in between.

MOOF: Which plants and fungi have made your favourite sounds?

My favourite noises so far have come from houseplants. The rubberier ones like cheese plants and jay plants give lovely noise due to their thick leaves.

MOOF: What has been the most surprising sound you’ve come across whilst exploring biorhythms?

I think one of the most surprising things is not one particular sound, but the difference in plants at any given time. There was a plant that I was using for a gig, in practice it sounded quite celestial. Someone then watered it without me knowing, and when I went back to use it had a completely different sound. The environment can affect the plant, including different times of the day. It can be quite frustrating not being able to reproduce the same noises all the time, but it makes for good experimentation.

Image: Ghost Pipe with her electrode wires attached to Turkey Tail mushrooms in Mycelium Song

MOOF: How do you think biofeedback and plant music will impact our relationship with nature?

During the lockdown, I was influenced to start Ghost Pipe and Mycelium Song, by a BBC Radio 6 interview I heard during lockdown about how sounds from nature can improve mental health and well-being. It got me looking into environmental soundscapes.

MOOF: What can we learn from plant music and nature itself?

How to be playful. Plant music brings a lot of joy and listening to it can be very calming and otherworldly. I think you can learn anything from nature, there is so much to find and explore. The ability to play is so important in life and is a big part of my artistic process and life.

MOOF: What was your inspiration behind your award-winning film Mycelium Song?

I wanted to make a visual environmental soundscape that was educational, incorporating plant music. Mycelium Song was inspired by the underground web of roots that connect fungi, trees, and plants and how it may sound when they communicate. I used the stems to play the track using a Midi input device on a log of turkey-tail mushrooms. I like tactile and pleasing sounds, which is why I love using synths. The leaping patterns of the arpeggiator mixed with organic textures and repletion of chords offer a simple but ethereal feel.

The video took inspiration from Hélène Vogelsinger, who uses modular synths in the woods. I was also inspired by Cosmo Sheldrake, who uses a combination of nature and electronic music.

MOOF: What are your current and future projects?

For my final project, I have a solo exhibition planned in May at the Fish Factory in Penryn, from the 15th-28th. I am combining experimental photography processes, laying plants on 8mm or 16mm film and then projecting that alongside plant music. I just have a phone full of notes for future projects. I was talking to someone today about how I would quite like to do a point-and-click game. When I was younger, I played a game called Samorost, made with bits of moss and lichen and mushrooms and the soundtrack was quite similar to Plantasia. I like that interaction, so maybe I would like to explore that in the future.

View more of Jasmine’s work here


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