Hands Behind the Art Reprise: Josh Meyer, perfumer
We love featuring amazing artists who help to take our grooming to the next level. So, here at West Coast Shaving we go to great lengths to find interesting artists and companies founded on good quality, good craftsmanship, and good materials. We want to introduce you to some of the people who go out of their way to make your grooming experience exceptional in our blog series called, "Hands Behind The Art."
We are excited to revisit one of our original artists in this series, perfumer Josh Meyer from Imaginary Authors. We first fell in love with this fledging company when they were just stretching their wings. Now, they are an established and well-respected fragrance house. And we love to hear more about their story.
An Interview with Josh Meyer
- WCS: What does Imaginary Authors stand for?
- Josh: Imaginary Authors is a fragrance house first and foremost. We create unique and wearable scents in the overly busy world of perfume. Everything we make is done from scratch, from scent design to bottle filling, labeling, and shipping, we do everything in house. “Imaginary Authors” as a concept for a fragrance brand is used to help tell the story of what the fragrance smells like and how it works. There is so much going on within a perfume and its formula; it's extraordinary to be able to help find a language, story, pattern and colors to examine and talk about what it happening within each scent. Scent is the least practiced of the 5 senses and finding that language is a cool thing.
For example, Falling Into the Sea gets an "imaginary" author and book synopsis that tells the story of the scent.
- NOTES: Lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, lychee, tropical flowers & warm sand.
- QUOTE: “Caught in the undertow of his salty lemon lips I caught myself drifting helplessly into a soundless summer unconsciousness” -Nica Gala
- SYNOPSIS: At the age of nineteen Nica Galas published her first book, the autobiographical tome Falling into the Sea which chronicled her short and torrid love affair among the hot beaches and lemon trees in the Gulf of Naples. The breathtaking story opens with Nica and her girlfriends picking bunches of jasmine flower for boys while they cliff-jumped into the sea. An innocent first kiss erupts into an ardent summer entanglement which is cut short one moonlit night when her lover leaps into the dark abyss never to surface, leaving Nica naked on the cliffs screaming his name. WHEN TO WEAR: This scent is sunshine in a bottle. Wear on cloudy days to invoke the ardor of summer.
- WCS: How/ Why did you get your start producing perfumes?
- Josh: I was avidly into perfume, and it just kept getting deeper and deeper. First, it simply started as I tried to find the perfect scent to wear for myself. . . Penhaligons, Knize Ten (and the outstanding Knize Sec), Rive Gauche, then, of course, something to wear for the daytime and another fragrance for the evening. It didn't take long before I was on the hunt for something to spritz for each of the 7 days of the week. And, I kept buying more and more perfume, exploring the world, so, of course, then the journey itself became the unending goal. I had another job at the time, and when I quit, I wanted to make sure to keep really busy. While I took a year off of having a 'real' job, I decided to make fragrances, and that is that. I haven't had to get another job since.
- WCS: Did you always have a knack for scent? Or was it something that you developed?
- Josh: I think anyone can develop a knack for it. I, pretty sincerely, boycotted any fragrance up until the time I was 27 years old. But, practicing smelling things and isolating different perfume elements is something that isn't difficult once you spend some time with raw materials. However, it's a deep well. . . and one of the most rewarding at the same time, it really couldn't be more fun.
- WCS: Where do you get inspiration for new scents that you develop?
- Josh: This is very important. The fragrance comes first before any titles, imagery or story. Generally, I’m using 3 or 4 key accords to bring the scents together to become something more than the sum of the parts. Each perfume is made up of between roughly 25 and 50 ingredients, but the concepts are generally much simpler with each note or material adding something to the accord. The story, the imagery for the label and box, and the note list all come after the fragrance is made. It is created to tell the story about the scent, it’s tone and vibe, and provide details about where the ingredients are found. For instance, "Memoirs of a Trespasser" has a lot of vanilla notes going on with a hefty dose of guaiac wood and it’s accord of a trio of myrrh, benzoin and ambrette really bring the entire composition together. It’s not something I smelled in nature or with world experience, but simply just looking for a unique combination of notes to create something new.
- WCS: How do you test scents before they go into production?
- Josh: Honestly, the only way to test is wearing the fragrance, on skin. . . a lot. It's hard work.
- WCS: When did you realize that this could be your main source of income?
- Josh: It didn't take long for the Imaginary Authors line to start providing enough money for me to live on. However, it took a lot more money than I initially planned to get everything up and running. Creating the fragrances took a long time and a lot of money. And, it took a little longer for me to start making more money than I was making in my previous job. However, now it's a bigger beast with larger goals. We have a large workshop space where everything takes place. 2 or 3 employees who help run the show and I have more responsibility that I've ever had in my life. It's really exciting now and nothing could be so much fun.
- WCS: What is the most exciting thing that happened for Imaginary Authors in 2016? Do you have anything special coming out in 2017?
- Josh: Perfume releases are the most fun thing, no question about it. In 2016, we only released one fragrance "Slow Explosions" and it was an astounding success in relation to anything we'd launched before. It's so incredible to be able to put out new projects that have spent so much time under wraps with endless thought, discussion and testing. 2017 is going to be doubly exciting. We have a new release coming out in April, and another later in the year. Both of them are wildly different, not only from each other, but from the rest of the line. I can't wait to share them. We're also going to release a couple of candles. Sourcing these, and making sure that the scent, wax/wick and production is up to standard has been the longest running project to date. I'm thrilled that we're getting closer to release.
Let's take a turn to Traditional Wet Shaving:
- WCS: What is the most addicting part of traditional wet shaving for you - the razors, the soaps? Or is it all one deep hole?
- Josh: The hole! The deep well of every single item. First it was shave creams. I bought so many! Then I realized I loved soaps, and started buying as many as I could find. It didn't take long before brushes, razors, straights, aftershaves and finally perfume followed suit.
- WCS: What are the products that you are using now?
Josh: I love mixing it up! But, some favs?
- Lather: Proraso, Xpec, MWF, MDC, and the new Charcoal Goods soap is outstanding.
- Brushes: Rooney 1/1, Tulip 2 two band, and Emperor 1 band. I like 'em small and scrubby!
- Razor: Charcoal Goods with a EJ head, and a killer vintage 40's SS.
- AS: Tuff Green, Floid Amber, Swiss Pitralon, Bravas, Speick... Now that I make perfume for a living, a lite fragrance is mandatory.
- WCS: What brand have you been most excited about recently?
- Josh: Shaving: Charcoal Goods. The guy is the incredible. Perfume: Bruno Fazzolari, Naomi Goodsir, Slumberhouse & Oud oils.
- WCS: Anything else?
- Josh: “Tomorrow I will fight, but tonight, I recline into a dream of muddled mint and ice” - Milton Nevers
A peek at some of what Josh is loving on:
- Charcoal Goods – We love this artist,too. Exceptional razors!
- Proraso – This old-school Italian grooming company continues to innovate with new products lines.
- Mitchell’s Wood Fat (MWF) – The high-lanolin content in this soap has made it an outstanding performer for generations.
- Rooney Shaving Brushes – This almost mythic brushmaker has a small internet footprint, but produces exceptional grooming utensils.
- Simpson Shaving Brushes – Maker of Chubbys, Dukes, Tulips and more. This brand has something for everyone.
- Floid – This great old-school brand hales from Spain and brings a barbershop feel to your grooming routine.
- Pitralon - First developed in Dresden, Germany in 1927 by Karl August Linger, Pitralon has a long history in the world of men's grooming. Even though this could be your grandfather's aftershave, the brand's values still appeal to modern clients.
- Speick - The tried and tested, potent natural ingredients in the Speick body care products keep you clean and fresh while surrounding you with a sense of well-being. Each product is crafted with the rare Alpine valerian plant--Valeriana celtica --which is highly aromatic and healing.