Gorilla On Tour – Brighton

Ryan Van Winkle, Brighton Rock in hand, starts the night at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar (which by the way, was actually rather sticky) with some meandering prose before introducing the poet SJ Fowler. His twenty-one original meditations inspired by the topic of scent flit between dark humour, delightfully light observations and sad snapshots memories.

Following his poetry, the accordionist fresh from France, Garance Louis, stole the stage with jokes and charmed us with her splendidly sexy and playful songs. Her set took a deeper, more romantic tone when Hannah from the Moulettes, joined her on stage with her cello. Garance finished with a happy peppy little ditty, which suited Brighton perfectly as it lilted like a carousel that one could imagine would have sat at the end of the pier in some hundred years ago. Collision’s Dance Company seized the floor, giving one of the best performances of the tour. Verity, Sol and Bianca looked amazing under the glowing red and blue lights, the accordion/cello backing as they performed “The Voice of Reason”.

On stage, Ryan Van Winkle dips his Brighton Rock into his wine, and assures us it makes it better. Well, it certainly could not make it worse (I tried some, it was decidedly too sticky and a bit gross). It’s an easy transition to Deborah Pearson’s piece about a very likely future.  Sentimental yet slightly downbeat, she recollects things yet to happen, in an altogether relevant fashion.  It left me with feeling like I could have been characters in her story, or that maybe we had been in the situation before.

Robin and Candy then swept over with a gentle set of duets. Candy’s melodic floating vocals complimenting and contrasting well with Robin’s fine cords. Robin was soft and sweet and disarmingly sure of himself. His songs were redolent of 1970’s folk, rather romantically winsome. The song about the London Riots had a pacifying lullaby-like quality, while covering his perspectives on the current shifts in society.

Last to take the stage was The Moulettes. Although they are normally a much larger band, we were treated to the original trio, Hannah, Ollie and Ruth. There are so many adjectives I could use to describe them! Overall, they could not have been more perfect for this time of year, they weaved into songs the feeling of autumn, the cadence of Ruth and Hannah’s vocals are warm in tone with an underlying electrical charge, one moment smooth and cool, the next hard and brisk. Absolutely enchanting. Then we danced to the end of the set, finishing with a track that literally rocked the floor boards.

The night was a delight, and as it dawned on me that we are drawing to the end of this wonderful tour, I must urge you to make it to the Bristol for the last Golden Hour night event!  Thursday, starting at 7pm. 

Gorilla On Tour- Performer Profiles: Deborah Pearson

 

Deborah Pearson is a woman of many talents. Theatre-maker, playwright, performance artist, advice booth operator, writer, are just a few of the labels bestowed upon Ms. Pearson, however, there are many more that could be just as accurate. Deborah is the co-director of the Forest Fringe, an award-winning mainstay in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

One of our favourite projects of Deborah’s is the 1£ Advice Booth where Deborah and Morgan McBride used to set up a booth on Brick Lane and for 1£ you could ask for advice. You left with a prescription typed out on a lovely typewriter and a lollipop. There’s a lovely video of the advice booth here.

Deborah has received many accolades throughout her career, including, the highly coveted Herald Award, as well as being named on the Stage 100 List of Most Influential People in UK Theatre. An interview with Deborah on The Guardian website found here.

In addition, we are loving Body Pods, this sound art work that Deborah worked on, that is available streaming, also on The Guardian website. Be sure to pop some headphones on, and listen away.

We’re very pleased to have Deborah on the Gorilla on Tour- The Golden Hour: Infused & Bemused. She’s a creative ball of wonder! Please visit her website to find out about many more interesting projects and works as this, of course, is just a nutshell (and a small nut at that- a hazelnut shell!) of Deborah’s many talents.

Gorilla on Tour – Performer Profiles: Robin Grey

 

Inspired by the timeless work of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Joanna Newsom amongst many others, Robin colours in his songs about love and life with guitar, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, piano, double bass, organ, percussion toys and any other instruments he can afford and fit into his little studio.

His music has been described as ‘gently experimental nu-folk’ and compared to Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Richard Thompson and Harry Chaplin – he is a bit distressed by the misspelling of the word ‘new’ and has no idea who Harry Chaplin is.

His latest video ‘Mariam’s Cake’ was shot with legendary puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew  who worked on the holy trinity of Labyrinth, Rocky Horror, and most excitingly, was Zippy from Rainbow.

We’re super excited to have Robin on the southern leg of the Gorilla tour – you can check him out online here, or come see him live in Leeds, Brighton, Oxford, Bristol or Cardiff 

Collage Competition

So new competition. Photo collage! Yay! I wanted to introduce one of our judges, no stranger to a collage herself. Soph recently joined Gorilla, helping out with our tour: you can see her in this video, setting up perfume with Cassie. Soph knows a thing about tours; she’s in a band and she helps manage a band. However, it’s not tours I want to talk about. I want to talk about COLLAGES. When Soph says, “I love collages” she states it, not in an over-gregarious use of the word “love”; she earnestly means it. Soph is a connoisseur of the collage- and I say that so that this competition is not taken lightly by any means. Soph would never say so herself, I’m sure, so I just wanted this addressed, so that you’re properly advised, about the collage contest, that it’s a deadly serious collage contest.

The band Soph is in, The Veils, were once photographed by Rankin. Soph was given the task to somehow destroy said portrait. She wrote a blog on the process here. She calls her collaging merely “Cutting and Sticking”. I think the image speaks for itself. (Buscemi!)

I just wanted to make you aware of the stakes here. Keep those photo collages coming!

Competition Alert!

Feeling lost without tour updates? Never fear – the bus will be back soon. Meanwhile, we’re so happy with the tour and so inspired by the smorgasbord of creativity we’ve been seeing every day, that we’ve come up with a project to keep everyone occupied in the meantime.

Images of all the new perfumes are now online here – or check the Gorilla 2012 Gallery link above. Something about the pictures of all the new perfumes, and all that white space, we couldn’t help but think they’re ripe for a little collage action. So, be it on the computer programme of your choosing or on your bedroom floor with a pair of scissors and a pot of glue, we want you to create us a scene featuring one of the perfumes.

It can be beautiful, funny, epic, silly or truly strange – all that’s required is that it’s amazing. You’ll need to send it to us – either instagram or tweet it tagged #gorillaontour, submit it to us at gorillaperfumes.tumblr.com, or leave a link to it in the comments on this post. The best image for each perfume will win a bottle of that fragrance.

All the perfume images are online on the Gorilla Perfume facebook as well as on the album here – to grab them simply rightclick and choose ‘save as’.

This competition is open to anyone, anywhere – just make sure we have some way of contacting you. We can’t wait to see what you come up with…

ENTRIES CLOSE OCTOBER 22, 9AM GMT SHARP. 

Guerilla Gorilla: Scenting the 50th Anniversary of James Bond at Inspace, Edinburgh

Sometimes, I am asked to scent various sensory events. We’re going to start reporting on some of the Guerilla Gorilla events that we’ve done over the past few years.

So the tour is on break for a week before storming Leeds this Saturday, October 20th. You didn’t think we were resting on our laurels in the interim did you?

I was asked to scent Diamonds are Forever. This year is the 50th anniversary of James Bond- and I was asked by Mark Daniels, of New Media Scotland, to scent the experimental science/arts laboratory Inspace while the film played. Jonathan Prior of 12 Gates to the City provided the sound art, and I roped Paul Tvaroh from Lounge Bohemia into his second gig at Inspace in less than a week (the 1st being, Gorilla on Tour- The Golden Hour: Infused and Bemused where he provided his edible perfume cocktails).

Because of a slight visa hiccup, I couldn’t physically BE at the event, though I sent all my scent notes to one of my favourite assistants, Lush’s own Erica Edwards of Everything Is Imagined (that’s a funny phrase to say aloud. “I sent all my scent notes”). It was handy for the fellas working too- they didn’t have to remember another name. And I’m also told that Agnes, the lovely Parisian sales associate from the Edinburgh shop, played Erica’s assistant! (I’m always blessed to have the most beautiful assistants! That’s one of the perks of working with Lush and Gorilla!).

I always use Lush and Gorilla scents when we scent something. A perk of my job, is that by working for Simon Constantine, I have access to a vast library of scents. We use things like ultrasonic misters, bubbles, atomisers, vaporizers and other devices to move scent about at various concentrations. For this film I was asked, in particular to scent the evil villain, Mr. Wint. His cologne plays a big part in the solving of a mystery. We used ultrasonic misters, some perfume atomisers, balloons that were filled with scent and popped at a point in the film, and each audience member received a brown paper bag (embossed with diamonds by Erica (!)) that contained a handkerchief that was doused in our most lascivious fragrance, that audience members were instructed to smell when Sean Connery drolls, “One of us smells like a tart’s handkerchief” (81:55 into the movie, FYI)

Paul Tvaroh made gin and tonic diamonds, which were stunningly beautiful. I have my own blog post about their creation here. But you’ll see them in the photos in the slideshow above & below. They looked like pieces of art!

And as for the scents, in true guerilla fashion, we’re not telling you what we used. But hint, hint, one of our newest scents carried the smokiness of whisky into Inspace. And we seem to think Ms. Case would be represented by a sexy jasminey vanilla. And the balloons were filled with our most carnivalesque scents. And the tart’s handkerchief- that one’s easy, isn’t it?

I was especially sorry to not be there in person at the event as it was also Mark Daniels’ birthday. He’s the one who can be seen in the photos below in the dapper white coat. He is an amazing arts administrator in Edinburgh- just a very creative, forward thinking, generous and brilliant man. The New Media Scotland facebook page has an album of all the Atmosphere events (which are the events we are typically involved in. Atmosphere is a series in which sensory aspects play a role in the event) which shows just how cool and amazing Mark and New Media Scotland are. From Gorilla Perfume, happiest of birthdays Mark! We may have given him a scent or two to mark the occasion!

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I was pleased to be asked to scent this event as it is Inspace which fully got me involved in scent art. A few years back, Mark Daniels asked me to scent an event during the Edinburgh International Film Festival at Inspace. I was given the task of scenting the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and I thought long and hard about the task. There are so many directions in which to go with scenting- but the key thing is concentration levels. It is easy to do so much with smell, because its concentration is not reflected in its size. A tiny bottle can make an entire building evacuate. Scent is a terribly powerful thing. Think, workers can be sent home for the day if there are plumbing problems in their workplace. It’s a rare thing that can interrupt enterprise, but scent has the capacity to do so. Though I wasn’t using scents to create a discord, I didn’t want to make people feel sick or nauseated at layers of scent. I used steam distillation, bubbles, and perfume atomisers, and I chose to reflect the smell of the seaside in Edinburgh, with the smell of a once fashionable teacher, becoming old fashioned, through seaweed absolute, tooth wracked seaweed, seasalt, a hint of apples (through bubbles which also represented the fleeting youth of the “Brodie set”), merged with a violet that went from a whisper to a full roar. I used both Lush products and Gorilla scents to achieve this.

You can watch a review of the event on STV here.

Chris Scott took all the photos in this blog post. We’ve mentioned the greatness of Chris Scott before, in this blog post.

The Silver Fox’s First Musings on Gorilla On Tour

“Throughout the twentieth century, perfumery flourished as one of the great popular arts, in the same way that fashion, music, and design flourished, contributing more and more to the everyday life of the everyday person. Yet perfume is probably the least understood and least appreciated of the arts”. Tania Sanchez, Perfumes A-Z

Gorilla On Tour-The Golden Hour: Infused and Bemused Tour essentially is about the art-form of perfume. The vintage bus, filled with writers reading, musicians singing, Beat books strewn about, records in scented sleeves, and bottles upon beautiful bottles of perfume seems to make perfect sense to us. “Perfumes are like books and pieces of music” says Luca Turin, co-author of Perfumes A-Z, and one of the leading scientists of olfaction.

In most perfume houses, the perfumers are anonymous. Most people will never know the name of the person who created the lovely symphony that is their signature scent, if they buy it from one of the big labels, which has a bottle titled only with the name of the fashion house/cosmetics company, with no nods, no hints whatsoever, that there was a talented perfumer who spent time, creativity, and genius (at times) composing it. They think Christian Dior made Diorissimo. But that was perfumer Edmond Routniska- who laboured for years and years to get the smell of Lily of the Valley right. He made many perfumes for many different fashion houses. Ernst Beaux is the name of the man who created Chanel No. 5, not Coco Chanel. He created Chanel No. 22, Cuir de Russie and many more creations for the brand. Yet his name is nowhere on the bottle. Contemporarily, perfumers like Maurice Roucel,  Jean Claude Elena, and Calice Becker are amongst a small set of people, (there’s more employed astronauts than employed perfumers is an interesting fact that gets bandied about) all make many of the perfumes that glitter under fluorescent lights in Duty Free, that sit on clean mirrors atop glass cabinets in department stores. Modern perfumers have more worries than anonymity however. They have to answer to big-time cosmetics firms who, for the most part, think about perfume in fiscal terms. Essential oils are a terribly expensive business. So a perfumer who has a recipe for a composition may find his or her lilting lullaby dullened by cheap aromachemicals and synthetics. In addition, past masters’ works- like the aforementioned Diorissimo– are often altered, over time- which would be like Glenn Gould’s interpretation of the Goldberg Variations being “updated” with a few techno beats, here and there. Can anyone scream RE-E-E-E-E-E-EMIX?

For our sake and for yours, we’ve tried to avoid the whole world of mainstream perfume. Flip through a magazine and try to avoid perfume adverts by the big-players. Look at Hollywood stars posed in contemplative positions in high budget photo shoots, or in live-action: commercials that cost millions of pounds to make, starring the currently popular starlet or rugged actor. Christmas is coming soon. Count the perfume commercials you see. We don’t advertise. We instead invest in our perfume. Tania Sanchez, in a review about one of our perfumes, states this about our company:

“If I ran the world, this is how fragrance would work: all the money spent on the juice, the bottle a mere afterthought, not the sad, common reverse. These people are getting it right”

We know our perfumer’s names. Gorilla Perfume is Mark and Simon Constantine. We know their conceptions, the stories behind the perfumes that they have composed. We know Simon was listening to a Magnetic Man song called The Bug, and was inspired by CCTV culture, the phone hacking scandal, police informants, and worked with high quality essential oils to create an unsettling, but lovely fragrance called The Bug. We know Euphoria is Mark’s blend of the most euphoric essential oils, a fragrance whose very composition got him through a rough winter. We know both worked on The Voice of Reason while being inspired by listening to the words of William Burroughs about decay and death above the Poole Lush shop, in the “secret rooms”, in their office, where they sit across from each-other. They were further inspired by Beat writing and the Bill Callahan song, I’m New Here, sung by Gil Scott Heron- and remixed by Jamie XX (listen to both, back to back, here and here). We know the point of view of The Voice of Reason was not merely being nostalgic of the Beats- but in remembering them, knowing there was a distance between them and us- as if you’d just seen a parade of people, people like Leonard Cohen, people like Bob Dylan, Kerouac, Ginsberg, the whole lot, waltz right by you, who go into a secret door, and are gone, and all you have is the smell of them lingering. The perfume is abstract- it is not being part of them, but being merely a bystander as they came and went. It smells of French cigarettes and whisky. And to my nose, it is a masterpiece.

We know this because Mark and Simon told us. We know also that Mark and Simon didn’t have to scrimp on the materials to make the scents. Whereas, other perfumes may be made with the composition dictated by the price of essential oils, Simon has admitted that he never even looks at the price, until his perfume is finished, uncompromised. And then when they told Plastic Crimewave about the perfumes they’ve just made, he made a comic book about it. And so we thought, Mark and Simon have been inspired by music and literature, how about we put the perfumes on tour- as performers in their own right- alongside some of the loveliest and most talented performers in the UK, and give free performances to cities.

We put together a modern Beat poet of sorts, Ryan Van Winkle, and a choreographer, David Beer, with his Collisions dance troupe- and we set off as you’ve read on the blog. They’ve scented performances of The Golden Hour: Infused and Bemused. Direct experience is the only way to experience scent. Instead of paying a celebrity to hang off a billboard, instead of trying to appeal to the MOST amount of people in the LEAST thoughtful ways, we’ve instead had some small performances, where there may have been three or four people hearing poetry while smelling our scents; there may have been a lone visitor, flicking through the LPs, looking at the beautiful apothecary in the bus that Lush hero Jo so thoughtfully designed, there may have been a hundred or more people at the venues we’ve played in various cities. We’re presenting the perfume as an art-form, as the most ephemeral art-form. Beautiful photos and videos are being taken to try to capture some of the glorious events and happenings. However, we can’t smell how it all smelled. That privilege rests with the people who came out, who took part, who were there. Yes. In this case, you really have to be there.

“Nothing can be smelled without disappearing. You don’t use up a picture by looking at it, but each time you uncork a perfume, the bit that evaporates is the bit you enjoy, and after you’ve smelled it, there’s no getting it back into the bottle” Tania Sanchex Perfumes A-Z

All of this may be a primer in perfume for you, or it may not be, you may know all about the world of perfume (it took a photocopy of Pia‘s notes on perfume that got me hooked into the history of perfume). However, we make no distinction between those who know and those who don’t. Perfume shouldn’t be elite. Perfume is for everybody.

“There is a base pleasure in perfume, in just about any perfume, even the cheapest and the most starved of ideas that is better than no perfume at all. It decorates the day. It makes you feel as if the colours of the air have changed. Its a substitute for having an orchestra follow you around playing the theme song of your choice”. Tania Sanchez, Perfumes A-Z

Perfume contributes to the “everyday life of the everyday person” and as such, it shouldn’t cost the moon to be able to indulge. By not advertising, you are not paying for our advertising campaign. Also by keeping our design and packaging reasonable (because, just so you know, there are some perfumes on the market in which the box it comes in, in addition to the bottle, which make up the majority of the percentage of the price. The perfume the afterthought. (Some people are buying 30£ boxes out there.)), we thought we could spread the word this way, to perfumistas, to people into fashion, to people who know nothing about perfume, to people who know nothing about fashion, for everyone to think how marvelous! How marvelous it is just to smell! How very now-and in the moment it is- how very delightful the now is!

In saying that, the bus is for everyone, we did invite some people who are “in-the-know” so to speak, about perfume. The Silver Fox writes one great blog about perfume. If you’ve been at all inspired by the world of perfume, we can advise that his blog is a great resource. He is a true arbiter of perfume and writes both knowledgeably and passionately about fragrance.

He wrote this on his facebook wall:

“Gorilla-tastic. I was invited to the Gorilla bus on Thursday to indulge in the new perfumes. There are 11 in total and two new typically quirky takes on incense. The hand-painted bus is beautifully kitted out inside like a traveling man’s lotions and potions sideshow; snake oil, virility and illicit draughts a speciality! The concept is wonderfully inviting; they are travelling with artists, poets, dancers and musicians and everything is designed to draw you in, invite you closer and let you experience something quite unique. The bus is awash with the new style bottles with packaging by Plastic Crimewave (who decorated the bus), various random objects, little wooden drawers with herbs, bibelots, books, posters and little personal touches of visitors to the bus. It reminded me of the Greenham Common caravan they have at the Transport Museum at Riverside in Glasgow.

I took Rachel, my colleague from work. Our guide Cassie was so alive and passionate about the scents and carefully talked us through them. I am already a huge fan of ‘Ladyboy’ and ‘The Smell of Weather Turning’ so I don’t need to be convinced that Gorilla make weird and wonderful aromas. But these are a step forward with a pagan and folkloric slant, re-connecting us to our very British landscape and past. I am preparing a longer blog post on my experience and a more in-depth look at my favourites. But I adored ‘The Voice of Reason’ all smoky wood chips on my skin, BBQ sauce, smoked jalapenos, hash smoke in cars, blaring endless soul music into the night. Fabulous. ‘Furze’ is an amazing take on vanilla, working with gorse and coconut. The vanilla actually smells yellow, like Walls vanilla ice cream, but there is an underlying windswept edge to it which sets it apart. And ‘The Bug’. Quite something. I hated and loved. It deeply unsettled me as I stood in the bus gazing up at the castle. I normally loathe galbanum, but this buzzes down into a very and I mean very odd metallic, tongue on battery note. It smelt to me like the inside of clean cold fridges. I am still sampling and sniffing. ‘Hellstone’ is suffocatingly sexy and the mandarin note in ‘Sun’ is truly delicious, one of best I have ever smelt. So, if the Bus is near you… go and say hello. The fragrances are amazing. The Gorilla peeps a delight and if you take something to decorate their van and they like it…. They might…. Just might…. Trade you for some fragrance…”
We look forward to further musings by The Silver Fox!
We have included some of his stylish photos here also. We like his style.

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Photos & image copyright The Silver Fox, 2012.
In addition, we’ve quoted quite broadly from Tania Sanchez and Luca Turin’s perfume guide book Perfumes A-Z. They helped start the trend towards thinking critically about perfume. It’s not merely that our fragrances, for the most part, rank extremely well in this industry bible, that we refer to it so heavily. Rather, it’s because both Ms. Sanchez and Mr. Turin write extremely well about this topic- which extends to their reviews in their book (think, there is no vocabulary for the olfactory sense- their reviews, themselves, are astute, creative, and make one think differently, and in a more nuanced sense, about perfume). This book is often the first step for an appreciation of perfume.