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9 days ago
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Everything’s just fiction - An Interview with Josh Meyer

Josh Meyer is the creative mind behind Imaginary Authors, a niche fragrance brand with a unique concept that intrigues the mind. He and his brand surprise with well-conceived, fun scents that tell stories and reveal the people behind them. All imaginary, yet so detailed and creative as well as exalting your own imagination while experiencing his world.

As the theme of your fragrance brand are novels, fiction and story-telling as well as the person behind it all… Are you a bookworm and what kind of literature do you like?

I love so many! I love John Barth, Nabokov, David Foster Wallace, Donna Tartt & John Irving… But recently, i’ve also been reading a lot about painting, art and cooking as each are so similar to perfume. A lot of chefs are putting very engaging books about running a restaurant business while also being at the top of their game creatively with some of the most fun food concepts, and it’s very inspiring to me, as both are so important to the Imaginary Authors brand.

I love to read, however, the brand idea was, for me, a new way to help explain the world of niche perfume. Many of my favorite niche brands from 7 or 8 years ago use no color on their labels and don’t publish simple note lists. So reading web copy doesn’t always give a vibe and tone to how the fragrance actually smells, which makes it difficult to know which bottles to buy. We wanted to create something that vibrantly told the story of the fragrance, while also trying to create something unique to the market. The only rule, on my end, was to make sure every element was extremely fun and work to make the fun concept more highbrow than not.

What’s the process when you create a new scent? How do you imagine an author, the story around him and his work? Does it just come to your mind randomly or do you make some sort of concept first?

This is very important. For us, the fragrance comes first before any titles, imagery or story. 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. 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 20 and 50 ingredients, but the concepts are generally much simpler with each note or material adding something to the accord.

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.

I guess Bull’s Blood is probably the stand-out scent from your collection that leaves people with the most controversial opinions. At least from what I heard, a lot of people seem to have a problem with the image of bull-fighting. Even though it is just imaginary. How do you feel about these kind of reactions to the scent and the story behind it? And how do you experience the reactions to your scents in general?

Both "Bull’s Blood" and "A City on Fire" have the same love hate relationship for many people. They are both fairly polarizing. I think there is something absolutely visceral and frightening about bull fighting. I think there is also something visceral and frightening about the fragrance Bull’s Blood.

Fragrances are so personal. I always hoped when I was first starting making fragrances with the realization that I wanted to share them with the world that I would be immune to criticism… nothing could be further from the truth. It’s very difficult when someone says something opposite of how I intended the fragrance to smell. On the flip side, when a review or post is made describing the scent in words that have the same vein as how I imagined it when I created it, it is utterly thrilling. Like speaking a new foreign language together.

Is it possible for you to name a favorite scent of your own collection?

I always like the newest release. Better than that? I always like what’s coming up. They are always the most interesting and vibrant to my nose. It’s super important to me to keep making fun stuff, simply for me personally. Working with the same fragrances doesn’t inspire… However, not that I think it’s the best, but if I had to choose I would say I reach for "Every Storm a Serenade" more than any others, it’s a very expensive perfume to make and I really like the way the individual elements sit on the skin, it’s very easy and enjoyable for me to wear.

Imaginary Authors has gone through different stages of bottles in the past 4 years. You started with 60 ml and introduced 30 ml sometime later. By now they are both gone and you downsized the big bottles to 50 ml and recently introduced travel sprays as well as outer packaging for the scents. How important are these alterations for an independent brand like yours on the one hand and how difficult are they on the other?

Yes, every stage has been a huge learning curve. The newest iteration of 50ml bottles is much higher end than the previous version, not just aesthetically with nice labels and a better overall “book shape”... the labels are literally 8x thicker than the previous version. Also the atomizers are much nicer and higher quality pumps. Our caps are branded with the IA logo. The boxes and the travel sprays are each just our own way of growing the brand and having fun with what we have to offer the world. The world of packaging is not easy to navigate when you’re looking for something unique. But, I’m happy with what i’m learning and hopeful we can continue to create new and interesting things.

You also did something different by collaborating with The Sum for his scent line. Is there any other brand you could see as a possible collaborator? Or do people reach out to you as well and ask for a collaboration?

I love making perfume. I really wish I could spend all my time creating and adjusting fragrances. I worked with The Sum because he loved my vision for how his scents would work and function, not to mention that his line is very different from anything Imaginary Authors has done or will do. It’s a lot of fun for me personally to be able to make something different with a cohesive brand. I also just recently worked with Sam Rader from Dasein to create “Winter Nights” which was limited to 400 bottles and sold out almost immediately.

I am often asked to make custom fragrances or exclusive fragrances and it really needs to be a special circumstance for me to have the energy to want to create it. I want to believe in what i’m doing and working on. I feel very fortunate to have the ability to do that.

Are you a fragrance collector and if so, how big is your collection? Is there any scent you love very much and wear on a regular basis besides your own?

I have a huge collection! I wear a lot of my own trial formulas mostly… and buying perfumes has turned into buying new raw materials. I love the amber animalic Lui by Mazzolari, and the relaxed strange Oud 27 by Le Labo, Domenico Caraceni for date night and Knize Ten for a long cold weather drive, Sadanne by Slumberhouse, Lampblack by Bruno Fazzolari, actually anything by Bruno is outstanding. Everything Naomi Goodsir is doing is blowing my mind, I love her new Iris... Oud Cuir d’Arabie from Montale is a long time favorite. Lubin’s Vetyver is perhaps my favorite take on that note, Czech & Speake’s Oxford & Cambridge is an exquisite and unique take on Lavender that doesn’t get talked about too much. I could go on and on… YSL Rive Gauche was a fav for a long time when I was younger.

Are there any plans for a wider distribution of Imaginary Authors internationally or is it still difficult?

I love working with retail and I am always on the lookout for good boutiques around the world. We are slowly adding new international retailers. I want our retailers to have a good experience with Imaginary Authors and I would love to continue to add more when a good relationship can be formed.

What’s your current bestseller? Still Memoirs of a Trespasser?

Memoirs is perhaps our flagship, however, "Cape Heartache", Every Storm a Serenade and "Slow Explosions" are doing very well… People are continuing to hunt down A City on Fire, which we sell a lot of.

Any news to tease for 2017 yet?

So much exciting stuff coming up! We have a couple of releases for 2017 along with our first foray into candles, that has taken a very, very long time. I’m so thrilled to share them! Sign up for our mailing list to stay in touch!

News to tease?

“Tomorrow I will fight, but tonight, I recline into a dream of muddled mint and ice” - Milton Nevers