For this week's chat we met up with Pao Pincerna, the alchemist behind Brighton perfume, possibly the most rock and roll perfumery on the planet.
Q 9 o’clock Nasty adore obsessive people. You’re clearly passionate about scent and perfume on a whole other level, what sucked you in and what keeps you happy in that world?
It’s always been one thing for me throughout my life, all or nothing. Perfumery was a complete accident; I wasn’t a perfume loving addict before. I went on a course with Alec Lawless who was one of the freest spirited and independent perfumers this country has ever had. I made what is now called Stiletto as my first ever perfume, built a vegan arithmetic system and he said ‘I could be the Jimi Hendrix’ of perfumery. That played into my manic creative personality so the obsession is unrelenting now.
The journey keeps me happy in the world, not selling out and having something to believe in. Also, Brighton, the sea and being back into the music scene as a fan.
Q You’re one of the most ferociously indie artists we know. Why wouldn’t you want to design fragrances for a large company who could do all the other stuff for you?
I’ve been offered the corporate job to make for the likes of Jean-Paul Gautier in 2019 after I had won the OK! National Beauty Awards. I can’t make wonderment elixirs that then get analysed and turned into synthetic rubbish. I’m here to the change the perfume industry, so from inside the machine you can only comply so I wouldn’t make a difference. The videos were completely inspired by meeting the crazy creativity of ‘The Qwarks’. But I would like to collaborate with a videographer to make even more unique videos, I’ve always had an editing eye which is very different to someone that captures the image. This all circles back to why I cannot work within the industry as the adverts are all corporate, the branding is just middle of the road and the packaging has that Chinese fakery look that just shouts bling bollocks. Any money-orientated entrepreneur wouldn’t have created this kind of ethos, corporate companies just don’t have enough crazy ideas people anymore so my only way to express a brand that is politically and socially oriented to revolution is to be on my own. I can create mistakes that only cost my time, so I can also have a much more throw-away mentality, so I don’t need to stick to things that are not working. It costs at least £250,000 to bring out one new corporate perfume so my manic creativity with 22 in 18 months isn’t viable within the corporate world. That leads to blandness as corporates can’t take a risk.
Q Can a smell be punk?
Yes, the whole nature of what I create is punk as it has been a do-it-yourself mentality so my fragrance creation is punk as I’m bending the reality of what fragrances would smell like if I just mixed them together. Paisley is the most punk of my smells, it’s a 1970’s style heavy fragrance that would not be commercially viable at £50 or even £250 from a corporate perfume house. The ingredients are difficult to work with, they are all bombastic, expensive and temperamental. The whole audacity to put them together shows non-conformity to a standard perfumer’s system. It breaks rules to a standard perfume triangle, I’ve created a 14-sided polyhedron to express how the perfume ingredients can react with each other.
Q 2022 was a bit of a hummer of a year in all kinds of ways. What keeps you optimistic about 2023?
I feel people are starting to wake up and realise they are being manipulated every day into one way of thinking. I think 2023 will be a year of extremes so the whole ferocity of what it takes to be independent will become vogue. It is reality that to make a difference you need standalone first then find collaborations and inspiration from outside your talent sphere to then be able to project something that is new and breaking boundaries. Even people that are not politically or socially aware are starting to not trust the system so that is where ‘indie’ will force itself into the mainstream cool. I can see it within the perfume industry, Chanel is starting to use 1970’s glitch in their adverts, retro TV’s instead of 4K precision. Some artisans find that annoying but for me it is opportunity as I can then offer something more extreme, raw and to some degree shocking. They will be ready to see it as something right wing has stepped into a world that they don’t understand so they won’t even achieve kitsch, just a false veneer that indie artists can then use to their advantage.
Q What advice would you give any independent artists about to start out?
Don’t wait and spend years working on something in your bedroom that you only share with people in your inner circle. Put things out there, get the reality back and see where it takes you. If you get no reaction bin it, positive and negative are the things to look for. Blandness doesn’t get a following, it might sell for a bit, but it won’t get you a creatively rich world of opinion and division.
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