I have always related fragrance creation to music. Every material used in perfumery has volatility and an overall odour impression, like a sound, has a frequency and tone, and although not technically linked, both sound and olfaction share a similar relationship: the biological mechanisms that allow us to perceive smells and noises work in a similar fashion. In addition, perfumes are composed of materials with different characteristics, just as a musical score is comprised of different instruments. Base notes are the least volatile and take longer to come to life: they are persistent and have incredible longevity. Materials that are fleeting can be referred to as top notes. These provide the initial impression, and are in place to embellish the materials that are not as volatile, allowing them time to evaporate and showcase their different facets. The heart notes are lighter materials than those found in the base, but denser than those in the top; in musical terms they form the main theme of the scent. However, as the industry evolves and more sophisticated materials and extraction methods are explored, we can witness the development of more linear compositions, those that change very little during the entire evaporation of a perfume.
We assign our individual impressions to these aromatic chemicals and frequencies: a like, a dislike or a feeling somewhere in between. Some are high and sharp, others low and soft. Some are dark, while others are bright. Aromas have texture, like music has timbre. I am fascinated by the play between tension and release; materials clashed together, hard against soft, creamy against metallic. Beautiful dissonances can be produced, which are both intriguing and provocative, somewhat like the challenging arrangements of Varèse or Bartók. Things get dull when everything smells chemically perfect. Everything becomes oddly still; repetitive and unimaginative, safe and filtered, even. I hope that changes with the growing rise of independent perfumers. In each of my works I try to take each formulation to a stage whereby I have perfected it, and then go even further: to where it feels lived in, worn and yet somewhat unfamiliar, even if chemically or conventionally it may not be correct. What is perceived as imperfection can be astounding and incredibly alluring.