For Plants, By Plants: The Music of Bottlesmoker

Bottlesmokers is an Indonesian indie pop band formed in 2005 by Anggung "Angkuy" Suherman and Ryan Adzan, also known as Nobie, who initially started making music as a hobby. Their music is characterized by a mix of electronic and acoustic sounds, with catchy melodies and whimsical nature.

Bottlesmoker gained popularity in Indonesia through their DIY approach to music-making and their use of social media to promote their music. They gained a significant following on MySpace, the main platform for independent musicians to showcase their work.

Since then, Bottlesmoker has continued to release music and collaborate with other artists. They have also performed at various music festivals in Indonesia and other countries, including Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Bottlesmoker's music is known for its dreamy, whimsical quality, often described as "bedroom pop" or "chillwave." Their lyrics often explore themes of love, friendship, and nostalgia, and their music has been compared to artists such as The Postal Service and Belle & Sebastian.

Playing to Plants in First-Ever Plant-Centric Concert

Our duo from Bottlesmoker has always tried to push the limits of what music can do by experimenting with different melodies and patterns.

You can see their unique approach using vintage toys, gaming consoles, old transistor radios, and other homemade machines to create instrumental electronic music teeming with danceable beats.

Their latest musical innovation involves plants, building on the work of late Canadian electronic musician Mort Garson, specifically his 1976 record Mother Earth's Plantasia.

The resulting work draws from native rhythms of Indonesian and Southeast Asian music but with the signature Bottlesmoker flair of using both analog and digital equipment.

"When we did our research for the shows, we found out there were many different types of music that work when playing with and for plants," said band member Angkuy in a South China Morning Post article.

"We settled on the kind the plants would best accept," he said.

Through their music-making process, Bottlesmoker found that plants favor certain types of sound and even feed off human emotion. 

"We found out that plants are actually able to receive our negative and angry emotions, which can restrict their growth," Nobie says.

The duo also found that certain elements of classical music, particularly the string section, would help open the stomata: which are pores in the plant surface that control gas exchange. 

When the plants are happy, Angkuy said, the stomata would open and release carbon dioxide, water vapor, and oxygen. 

To showcase their work, Bottlesmoker held a series of plant-centric concerts in July 2020 in Bandung, where they played to a crowd of plants brought by eager fans.

They named their concerts Plantasia to honor Garson and his work, which greatly influenced their music.

How Does Bottlesmoker Create 'Music For Plants'?

To make music for plants, Bottlesmoker uses a device called a MIDI Sprout, made specifically to translate electrical signals from plants into music. The MIDI Sprout is connected to the plant and then used to control various musical parameters, such as the tempo, rhythm, and melody.

"Basically we translate a plant's biodata and convert it into MIDI files. Then we connect it to an instrument and voila the plants are singing through a synthesizer as a medium. So the sounds that you hear are not literally produced by the plants per se, but the plants are 'singing' by playing instruments," the duo said in a MixMag Asia article.

To create music that plants liked, Bottlesmoker avoided low frequencies and used a lot of natural sound samples, such as chirping birds, rain noises, and rushing waterfalls. 


Overall, Bottlesmoker is a unique and talented band that has significantly impacted the Indonesian indie music scene. Their music is catchy and introspective, and their DIY approach to music-making inspires independent musicians everywhere.

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