Tuesday, December 20, 2011

R'OUD ELEMENTS EDP by KEROSENE - Interview with perfumer & fragrance review

A seductive incensy - woody fragrance.
My choice for a X-mas gift to guys that are cool!

This was a weak year for fragrant interviews in this blog. Truth is, I really didn't find any interest in questioning perfumers about their last launches nor their inspirations, until I have recently seen one of the latest KEROSENE youtube videos last month. The guy who has been spreading his charms and fragrance reviews in the internet has been also working secretly to develop his own fragrances. John Arthur, aka Kerosene, is a 35 yrs old small town guy with big dreams for his future in the fragrance industry. If you are a fragrance reviewer, evaluator or blogger, and you have always questioned yourself if reviewing a fragrance is as hard as developing one of our own, but never dared to try, I can tell you that this shy young man had the guts and skill to do it.  He moved away from the safe place where he gets to evaluate other people's work via youtube, to subject his own creation for others like him to evaluate his work.
I exchanged a few e-mails with him that resulted in an interview which I am happy to share with all of you today. John is a very nice person and although he presents himself publicly, I found out that he is a bit shy when talking about himself. 

+ QPB: Since when have you been interested in fragrances?   

Kerosene: I have been interested in scents for as long as I can remember. It was probably around the middle school era when I really started to discover fragrances. 

+ QPB:Do you have a fragrance type preference? 

Kerosene: I tend to gravitate toward woody flavors. 

+ QPB: How people near you reacted about this passion for perfumes? (since you work in a very masculine rough environment!)

Kerosene: People around me don't understand my sniffing obsession. And in the automotive environment, it's not really understood much anyway. Once in a while, I'll catch a waft of someone wearing a scent, and even if it's Axe, good job for wearing at least something!

+ QPB: When or why did you start to review fragrances on youtube?

Kerosene: I began reviewing scents about a year and a half ago. Im not what you call an eloquent speaker, or very charasmatic, but my goal has always been to describe a scent for people that have never smelled it. Helping others is my number 1 priority! And if I can have fun here and there, I will.

Photo credit: Kerosene for + Q Perfume Blog

+ Q PB: You are migrating from a fragrance reviewer to a perfumer. How would you feel if someone would give you a bad review? (Which I doubt, because the fragrance is really great).

Kerosene: Yeah, I've prepared myself for the inevitable bad reviews. But really, it doesn't matter. If a person doesn't like a scent, that's fine, they dont have to wear it. For the people that love it, then the scent is for them! I will never take it personally that a scent isn't liked. Fragrance is such a personal choice kind of thing, it's like arguing over what is the best color. Blue or Red. Doesn't matter. People like what they like and it's something that cant be judged.

+ QPB: I would like to know how this project started. Are you going to open your own brand in the near future? Is this one scent only, or is it going to be in a collection of others to come?

Kerosene: What first started the project was my obsession with individual notes. Some are very simple, while others are very complex. I wanted to familiarize myself with notes for my online fragrance reviews. To really smell what sticks out the most, and not just by reading a note pyramid. Once I had collected quite a bit of essential oils, I began to dilute them to build simple formulas. At the same time, learning the scent strength of various base and top notes. Some notes can last for days, others a few minutes. So that’s where the true obsession began. I truly loved the creative process of endless possibilities in scent. My goal will to always create something that doesn’t smell familiar.
R’Oud Elements isn’t the first fragrance I’ve created, it just happened to be the first one I felt was ready to be released. And yes, I want to release a new scent whenever I feel a new formula is ready. I’m constantly experimenting. I want to create a unique, yet wearable fragrance house, which is called Kerosene.

+ QPB: I think it would be super cool if you were to open a fragrance house that makes niche perfumery just for men! Not a single perfume for us women. It is my opinion that men have been neglected for years by brands, receiving only EDT versions of perfume, and the raw materials used in the masculine fragrances are far cheaper than the ones used in fragrances for women.  It would be nice to see for a change a brand that gives the quality and respect that men deserve! Your thoughts?

Kerosene: My fragrances will always be edp concentrations and will vary greatly from feminine tones, to masculine.

+ QPB: That is excellent news! Guys deserve that!!
Have you got any perfumery training? Or you just trusted your sensibility and knowledge as a consumer? 

Kerosene: Like with music, writing, motorcycle building, everything I do in life seems to be self-taught. Some might applaud that approach to life, some might scowl. I love to research just enough to make me dangerous. I also don’t like to research too much, and lose the creativity in the process. If I was to learn how another perfumer goes about to create a scent, I might have the habit to instinctively work in the same frame. But I never allow myself to do that. I trust my nose to tell me if something smells right. Win my lack of formal training, I might waste more raw materials in my processes, but I have confidence the end result will eventually be promising.

+QP: I think in a way you are right, as per not being influenced by others, especially because you did master it. But today with so many regulations such as IFRA’s, a perfumery training could be handy, no?

Kerosene: Yeah, there are regulations, but every essential oil and aroma molecule will have a Material Safety Data Sheet that lets the perfumer know the safe consumer limits of concentration. I will always follow those regulations.

+ QPB: What was the inspiration of this fragrance? How long did you take to conclude this creation from inspiration to launching the perfume? 

Photo credit: Kerosene for + Q Perfume Blog

Kerosene: We have some cold weather here in Michigan, and I really enjoy warm scents. So I wanted to create something that was comforting, warm and relaxing. This scent probably took close to a year to complete. I usually work on a scent, walk away and work on something else. I feel when I come back to something after a while, a new idea will pull me along when smelling it again. And from there, more tweaks.

+ QPB: Tell me a bit about you. How you define yourself personally/professionally? Tell me your age! 

Kerosene: I’m 35 and grew up in a small town not far from where I live now. If I decide to do something, I put my whole heart into it. I would love to see the house of Kerosene taken to the professional level, and I can’t say that will happen until I'm able to quit my regular day job at an automotive plant. I dream of working in a lab, mixing, diluting, smelling something different as my regular job, versus staying up late and being tired most of the day after.

+ QPB: What you do when you are not reviewing fragrances? 

Kerosene: When I’m not testing scents, hovering over perfume counters and reading reviews, I love wrenching on old motorcycles. I love tea, especially Earl Grey and Darjeeling. As with enjoying different perfume notes, I love all kinds of music, The Cure, Demon Hunter, Soilwork, The Beatles, Muse, and anything with a cello in it. I could really go on forever. I also love to write whenever I can find the spare time. Short Stories with a twist are always fun to concoct. 

+QP: Your fragrance reminded me of Black Cashmere by Donna Karan. Do you know this fragrance? Have anybody else thought this way? Do you agree with me? 

Kerosene: Haha, maybe I’d agree with you if I’ve ever smelled Black Cashmere. I heard of R’Oud Elements being compared to Creed’s Royal Oud which I have still not smelled, so can’t really compare either.

+ QPB: R'Oud Elements- what does it mean... I know OUD is the raw material - but does the "R" mean anything?

Kerosene: The name of R’Oud Elements, other than being a cute play-on-words, comes mostly from the opening. To my nose, the opening is smoky, raspy, and in your face, and is very much rude-like. But that opening is only an element of the fragrance as a whole; as is the oud note. So many other notes play a bigger role than the oud and I feel it separates the scent from other OUD fragrances. It’s less bright, pungent and piercing than most of the oud fragrances I’ve smelled.

+QP: I loved the explanation! The name is brilliant!
Tell me a bit about the bottle. I heard from your video that you have crafted it yourself right? Automotive painting… give me more details. I think it looks very sleek.

Kerosene: I wanted to put my motorcycle painting talents into the bottle's design. I love metallic paint, so it was a no-brainer to paint the bottles in that style. For the label, I've always like Serge Lutens simplicity, so I drew the vine pattern, scanned it on my computer and added the fragrance name. There's a metal stud in the middle of the label, which I think adds an elegant touch. Each fragrance will be a different color and one little aspect will differentiate it from other scents. R'Oud Elements has a bow, the next scent will have a.... (he left me curious LOL!)

+ QPB: About the OUD note - synthetic or natural - if natural - where is it from? This is crucial for OUD aficionados.

Kerosene: I used a blend of synthetic oud and authentic Indian Black Agarwood. In order to keep the costs reasonable, I was able to create a pleasant scent with my blend.

Photo credit: Kerosene for + Q Perfume Blog


Photo credit: KEROSENE BRAND

Origin: USA – Port Huron, MI
Launch: 2011
Perfumer: John Arthur (aka, Kerosene)
Olfactive Notes: oud, sandalwood, vanilla, amber, lavender, iris and orange bitters. (I think there is frankincense too)
Description by Perfumer: "A smoldering R’oud opening that slowly develops into a velvety, woody scent with amber and vanilla".
Description by + Q Perfume Blog: SMOKY, SEXY, CHIC, MODERN
Olfactive family: Woody Oriental
Gender: Opening is masculine, but the drydown could be worn by anyone (perfumer)/I think it is masculine, but can be enjoyed by the ladies too.
When to use: Mostly fall and winter - any occasion
Silage: Excellent in the first 10 minutes, gets closer to the skin afterwards with a few peaks now and then...
Fixation: Great
Range: 50ml and 100ml - EDP
Could pair to: Black Cashmere by Donna Karan
Rating: ☆☆☆☆
☆☆☆☆☆ - I am on fire!
☆☆☆☆ - You will find your true element in this fragrance!
☆☆☆ - Nice warming.
☆ - Automotive painting smells better than that!
☆ - Kerosene would smell better than that!

WHERE TO BUY: Contact Perfumer or at ETSY website.

Just like John's smile, the fragrance has a very uplifting - warm opening, with woody notes combined with delicate minty-soapy freshness, that could be coriander, but I can't confirm thou... John does not share any more notes than the ones he has published. So I will call it the sauna bench note (like the one found in Cepes & Tuberoses by Mandy A.), but here much more delicate, tuned down at least 45ºC.LOL. 
It also contains a rather strange and very close smell to a Brazilian minty flavored sweet called Bala Garoto de Hortelã, that gives you the refreshing breath of mentha arvensis with a flowery touch. If you are in Brazil - smell the candy, but do not put on the mouth, otherwise it gets intense, and in this case, won't remind the scent of John's fragrance anymore!

One more strange detail - When I first tried this fragrance in a colder day than it is today, and I could assure the perfume had a very smoky incense opening. Something like frankincense and myrrh. Today, a week later, in a very hot day (at least 12ºC more) it smells fresher, more orange-y and more uplifting. Quite curious... 
The OUD used is a combination of both natural and synthetic agarwood (read in the interview above), which is nice to my taste. I am not a purist. never was, never will be.

Roland & Rattfink

It smells as if Black Cashmere by Donna Karan lost a bit of broom flowers and its Bois de Miel notes, to receive a heavier woody facet instead. Therefore I recommend to pair both of them. Remember the cartoon ROLAND & RATTFINK?  That is John's fragrance and Black Cashmere by Donna Karan, when both are compared. Roland was the blond, good looking make love not war kind of guy; and Rattfink the evil, darker character. (By the way, I remember that Roland always got to my nerves with all that daisies smelling).
Please do not translate Roland as good and Rattfink as bad. This is not what I mean when I compare both, as to the fragrances in case. Translate Roland (or Black Cashmere - as the softer, flowery, mellower one) and Rattfink, or R'Oud Elements EDP as the naughtier, darker one). R'Oud Elements has the same velvety touch of cashmere wools of Donna K's fragrance, but somehow the wool is his is a bit more raw, less soft, less creamy, less "polite like Roland", and more piercing, more spicy, more rude = R'Oud - at least it sounds very close when you say both words!
R'Oud Elements EDP has a unisex appeal - when sprayed on my husband it becomes very spicy resinous - smoky masculine, and the ambery-vanilla elements are less accentuated (oriental base). When sprayed on my wrist, the powdery furry candy like elements are much more detectable. Needless to say we both loved the fragrance.

I think Kerosene succeeded to deliver what he thought it would be his signature fragrance - a very warm, velvety, hip fragrance. I can even say it has the same vibe as Comme de Garçons WONDERWOOD (click here for the review). Yes, here the lumberjack scent got a bit of the automotive-industrial touch. Yes, dear readers...a lot of common elements with Black Cashmere. A lot of elements of Wonderwood...but with R'Oud Elements of its own.

It came from the heart, from his natural skills to smell scents and smells around him, and most of all, from the dream of making his own signature perfume. I really like it!

I want to congratulate John for his new venture, and certainly I will look forward his next creations!

The sample was sent to me by John, upon my request.


Keith Brawley said...

I am very pleased with this percipient review !
Exciting ,insightful review and creation by Kerosene.
Simone ,your acquiesce in evaluating this mans creation is simply lovely as You !
A blessing !
Merry Christmas !

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

This is groundbreaking news for our fragrance community. this young man is simply a marker to The perfumery industry.
The fragrance is very good - which was a relief to me. I didn't know what to expect.
it is indeed a great perfume and a lovely option for this and many winters to come.

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Anonymous said...

Not only is R'Oud Elements a very interesting perfume, one of the best releases of 2011 IMHO, but with this interview we have learned that John is a very interesting person. I know that his next release will come when he has something to say and it will be as interesting as his first release.

Ankica said...

Bravo for both of you.
The other day I got his sample. It was very interesting to hear your thoughts on R'oud.

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

Dear MOS,

indeed it is!! you are so right!

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

Ankica darling1 merry X-mas!!!

jen said...

I am so curious about this scent! I looks like John isn't providing samples anymore. I will have to try to track one down or blind-buy (yikes) - but it sounds like a can't miss, especially if it has ties to Black Cashmere! :)

+ Q Perfume Blog said...

Are you sure? Have you contacted him?
I have never made a blind-buy.
Do you want me to talk to him about it?

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