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Blog

January Scent Project thoughts and musings.

 

Smolderose - How it began:

John Biebel

Smolderose owes much of its existence to my first experience with cade oil. This beautiful essential oil is unusual. It's an oil extracted from burnt juniper wood, and as such, has undergone a literal trial by fire before it even enters a bottle. It is very much a bonfire; traces of its origins as juniper branches are still there in its complex bouquet. I was immediately pulled toward building an accord around this essential oil. How could "smoke" be rounder, sweeter, more full-bodied? It was a tremendous learning process and months were spent during a mild New England summer arranging the notes. As I worked, I heard more and more in the news about the drought that was gripping the other coast of the US as California waited for rain, and wild fires ravaged the upper northwest. It was a strange backdrop to my efforts. I wanted to put a flower in amongst these embers of scent, and had narrowed it down to either rose or neroli (orange flower). I have always loved rose, and as I studied the complexities of rose as a component, it became apparent just how many different facets and faces roses actually have. There are white, pale scent roses, deeply red and velvety ones, dried petals, potpourri roses that give off hay-like nuances of sweetness, snipped yellow roses that are still green at the bases. Picking which way the rose would develop was another deep dive into experimentation and meant a lot of study. The rose portion went through two major changes, and numerous smaller developments until I'd arrived at something that could work properly with smoke. I had some initial tests with friends/colleagues who gave important feedback, and two necessary modifying concoctions were added to round out what had become (frankly) far too intense. Finally, a result came about that fulfilled the needs - smoky, green, red, rosy, amber, milk-like, nutty and fading off into some dark berries, green and wood. 

I think the most interesting aspect of this process was to smell this perfume on someone else, someone who really enjoyed it and found that it really suited her. It did meld wonderfully with her chemistry and seemed to sing on her skin in a different way from my own. This is someone I'd not met before and so didn't have a vested interest in making Smolderose "work" for her, it just evaporated in a lovely vapor from her skin, and watching that happen was a wonderful proof of concept.

From the very beginning of this project, I knew that there was a strong visual component to my ideas (this is what happens when a painter works with smells), and because of my connections with music, it made perfect sense to put together something with sound and film. I was fortunate to work with Joe Mordecai of Brooklyn, New York to bring together these ideas into a short but potent 18 seconds of sound and image. His film work was extremely important to this project. Nothing beats people around you who share your particular vision, and Joe took the sound and images to an entirely new level. The Smolderose promotional film for January Scent Project put a distinct voice to this scent that has so far remained voiceless. Now, it sings.