What Does Cannabis Sound Like? ‘Sticky Situation’ Extracts Music From the Plant

Snoop Dogg and Ted Chung’s Merry Jane has teamed with eOne Music to release the song produced by FrancisGotHeat and featuring Rich the Kid.

Sean Caesar

Snoop Dogg and Ted Chung’s Merry Jane digital media cannabis company has teamed with eOne Music to release the first-ever commercially available song composed from sounds extracted from a cannabis plant.

“Sticky Situation,” by producer FrancisGotHeat (Drake, Roy Woods, Bryson Tiller) and R&B singer Anders, both from Toronto, and featuring Los Angeles-based rapper Rich The Kid, was made using the Sticky Situation strain and a technology called MIDI Sprout. By hooking up alligator clips to a plant leaf, it translates the real-time electrical currents into MIDI notes

The two-and-a-half minute track and extended version for the video (with more blips, buzzing, trippy sounds and samples by director Elliot Clancy Osberg), were released on Oct. 17 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of cannabis legalization in Canada.

There have been music compositions made from plants before and Data Garden’s MIDI Sprout technology. Launched following a 2014 Kickstarter campaign, it inspired a global movement of “plant musicians,” whose calming creations were especially suited for wellness practices like yoga and meditation. In 2017, an app for IOS was made available. The MIDI Sprout is now sold out, but there’s currently another Kickstarter for the next version, to be called Plant Wave.

For “Sticky Situation,” FrancisGotHeat (pictured) took the “new age” sounds and converted them into instruments like grand piano, synthesizer and horns to create a contemporary urban pop song. It still has that cannabis chill vibe, but it’s darker — the art work is a skull, not an om —  and not intended for a Bikram class. (Watch the video for “Sticky Situation” below” and a making-of clip here.)

Variety spoke with FrancisGotHeat about how “Sticky Situation” came to be.

As a producer, you must have sampled found sounds before. How is using the MIDI Sprout different from using the sounds of a car engine or a dog barking?
MIDI signals from the plant are more sporadic and more unpredictable. With a car engine or a dog bark, you know what you’re getting. With the weed plant, it’s all random. You never know. You might get some really high melodies and some really low pitch melodies, a combination of both, just jumping all over the place.

This might be a stupid question, but do different strains produce different sounds?
Technically, the plant doesn’t actually generate any sounds, but we’re taking the signals from the plant and then we turn it into sounds. But different plants will have different signals.

How did you get involved with the track?
Kai [Henry, creative strategist at Merry Jane] brought the opportunity to, I believe, Anders, and then they wanted to get me involved because I’ve produced a lot with Anders. Once I heard about it, I was a 100 percent down. It was a cool idea. I’d never heard of the technology before, but it’s the first of its kind.

Did you have to experiment with how it works?
Yes. A guy came into the studio and gave us a breakdown of how it all works. We were playing around with it for a minute before we actually got to work with it.

Did you smoke any Sticky Situation before you embarked on this creative process?
No, I did not.

In a 2017 YouTube video, the creators of the MIDI Sprout said the one question they get frequently is “Have you guys tried hooking up a marijuana plant yet?” so they did. The music sounds very new-age, beautiful and chime-y. Is that what yours sounded like?
Yeah.  It kind of was like that, but then I switched it up a bit. How it works is you run the signals through a plugin that generates sounds so I just chose different sounds and different MIDI signals.

When you listening to the track, can you isolate the parts that use the Sticky Situation strain or has it now completely disappeared and blended into the other instrumentation?
You can still hear it. The main melody I did get from the plant and also some percussive, rhythmic sounds in the background are actually the raw signals that I got from the plant.

What vibe were you going for?
I wanted to keep it really light and euphoric. That’s the main melody I got from the plant, too.

Do you think you’re going to use the MIDI Sprout again?
Yeah, definitely. I want to get my hands on that technology. It started with the cannabis plant. Who knows what else I can get out of it?

What are the craziest found sounds you’ve used on tracks in the past?
I’ve used a whole bunch of weird different sounds. I like to use my voice recorder for random sounds. I’ll literally scrape a stick on a fence and be like, ‘That’d be a cool percussion sound.’ Or a glass of water and use that as a bell.

You probably go through life like that, hearing music in everyday life.
Yeah. [Laughs] You hear thousands of sounds every day. It’s cool, but weird as a producer because you hear things different all the time. I might be in mid-conversation with someone, and hear something crazy on the street and say, ‘Hold up, I got to record this real quick.’

What are you working on next?
Me and Anders are working on a lot. I guess you can call it an EP for now. Hopefully we’ll get it out before the end of the year.