Every couple of weeks at their home-from-home cosily quirky boutique based in Islington, Gorilla Perfumes (the dedicated olfactory offshoot of Lush) play host to #ScentedSongs – an event that references the musically-inspired perfumery roots of many of their fragrances, and involves a band playing live in-store with specially selected perfumes showcased alongside particularly relevant songs. It seems only natural for Gorilla perfumes to be expressed through music, with each collection being a numbered ‘volume’, like an album.
Speaking to the lovely Hollye Murphy from Gorilla Perfumes before we made our way inside for the singing and spritzing session; she explained the concept and how they go about choosing the perfumes for each song.
‘It’s a really casual process, in that we listen to the band’s music beforehand and think about which fragrances may suit them (or rather, the songs) best. Then the band come along a few days before the performance and we get to meet them, and get them to select the scents for their songs… we then decide together which will be the most representative to use.’
Gorilla Perfumes Islington can have upwards of thirty to forty fragrances in store at any one time (an ever-growing list as more are introduced or as part of their in-store exclusives from now discontinued lines that can’t be had for love n’or money anywhere else, even online!) With this in mind, you might be surprised to hear how often the Gorilla staff and musicians in the bands choose the same fragrances and songs.
As Hollye says, ‘…with tonight’s band – Flying Tailor – I couldn’t quite recall which of their songs I’d heard that immediately made me think of our fragrance The Bug; then when the band came in and smelled it, they mentioned the name of the very song! That happens quite a lot actually, far more than you’d expect or could right off as pure coincidence. It shows that some sort of scented connection has been made, between a perfumer and a musician who have never met, which is pretty incredible when you think about it…’
In their boutique, the walls are decorated with band posters and records – indeed, you can go into their listening booth and hear the records behind each song while sniffing away at any time, not only on the musically themed evenings.
During the #ScentedSongs event, we got to hear six songs from the wonderfully melodic Flying Tailor, while sniffing the accompanying perfumes, and at times eating (and drinking) further ways of exploring the notes in the scents and songs themselves.
Here’s the setlist we were treated to for Flying Tailor’s #ScentedSongs at Gorilla:
1. The Tempest (scented with Smugglers Soul)
2. Invisible Horizon (paper boats scented with Lord of Goathorn were passed through the crowd along with liquorice and herbal sweets to suck, echoing the notes of the fragrance!)
3. Train Wreck (The Smell of Freedom was chosen for the accompanying sniffing session)
4. Under My Skin (for this song, the cooling lemon body spray of Dad’s Garden was spritzed directly on to our skin, appropriately enough)
5. Goodbye (the incredibly moving story behind Gorilla’s Dear John scent was explained for this song choice)
6. Don’t Put the Light Out (this is the one both the staff and the band chose The Bug to fragrance).
Gorilla Perfumes have a dedicated YouTube channel, on which you can view some of the perfumed performances for yourself, if you can’t attend in person. Happening every two weeks, it’s a real treat for noses and ears alike – and completely free!
The next #ScentedSongs is happening on July 9th, and we suggest following your nose (and ears!) to Camden Passage for a sensory experience not to be missed!
Written by Suzy Nightingale