Our artist in residence programme brings together creatives from different backgrounds in the spirit of creativity, experimentation and innovation.
I first met Ecka Mordecai in early 2020 because we had neighboring studios and she came sniffing around the Aequill workshop out of curiosity. At the time she was working as a musician and sound artist but showed a raw passion and talent with scent so I trained her in fragrance and our story blossomed from there.
Over the past two years Ecka has worked with us to push our value of beautiful craft and outstanding products, always stretching the boundaries of what contemporary fragrance could be.
This week, I am interviewing Ecka, our in-house perfumer and the nose behind the upcoming range of perfume’s entitled ‘SOUND’.
Could you tell us a little about the range of ‘Sound’ fragrances?
The new range of fragrance is inspired by elements of the East London soundscape. I’ve been composing perfume inspired by sound, and Kate has been sculpting and molding unique bottle caps to adorn each release.
What was your inspiration for the range?
First and foremost, listening inspires me. Sound inspires me. There’s a practice called ‘deep listening’ and it’s the art of intentionally listening and responding to your sonic environment.
When listening, you have to accept that sound will consume you fully for a moment and then vanish into thin air, a quality it shares with scent.
Even the heaviest and most long-lasting perfumes exhibit this: they change and develop with each moment. They’re transformational.
So my intention was to capture the emotion of fleeting moments, inspired by sound and expressed in scent.
What kinds of sounds in particular inspired this range?
In particular I listened to rain, steam, birdsong, laughter, gossip and silence.
Early one morning on Regent’s canal, I stopped beneath a beautiful yellow mimosa tree to listen to birdsong. At that same moment, a group of people walked by gossiping and giggling and their laughter merged with the tweeting of birds above. The emotion these sounds expressed was of pure joy and I wanted to bottle it up immediately!
In a different soundscape, I was observing someone drink green tea in a café. They were calmly listening to rain hitting the windowpane, and I could see steam rising from their teacup whilst the coffee machine made intermittent bursts of white noise.
The sounds in this environment felt comforting and familiar, and I realised they were all produced by water at different temperatures: the dappling of cool rain and the warm quietness of the tea punctuated by boiling hot ‘cctsssshhhhhh’ noises.
I was inspired to make a perfume that expressed the feeling of being cosy and warm with a cup of tea whilst rain is falling softy outside: a ‘warm rain’ accord, if you will. That sounds so British….ha….
Can you tell us more about the third fragrance inspired by…. silence?
Yeah, this one was tricky because silence is… complicated, because you can’t hear it.
Rather than respond to the sound of silence, I walked around Shoreditch observing people who were ‘silent’ in the sense of not talking so much. I found these people loud in other ways: in their style, their posture, and the intensity of their eye contact.
I started to think of them as the ‘Strong Silent Type’ and wanted to design a perfume that captured the essence of this personality.
In the end the fragrance is actually the opposite of silence, it’s seductive, sultry, loud and unapologetic. I like the way fragrance can compensate for silence.
What does sound smell like to you?
Sound and smell are emotional senses for me. I can access and explore a depth of feeling more advanced than with, say, images or words.
I’m not interested in perfectly translating sound into scent, but I am fascinated by the emotional nature of both.
Take love as an example; both music and perfume can remind you of someone you love, or take you to the melancholy of a past love.
They transport you to a feeling that exists without apparent reason or logic. That’s what inspires me most about working with these senses, they give me a way to access feelings directly.
What type of person do you imagine wearing these perfumes?
The type of person I imagine wearing these perfumes would have an interest in unique or niche fragrance, and they’d want something high quality.
All three fragrances in the range are composed using a 9:1 ratio of essential oils to aroma molecules so the scent profile is complex, nuanced and put simply: it smells expensive. Molecules are great at giving longevity to a perfume, but the natural essential oils have a much richer scent profile, and the nose perceives them as being more sophisticated.
Tell us about your decision to make them unisex…
Whilst designing the fragrances, I imagined the kinds of feelings I could inspire in the wearer, not the kind of gender it would enable them to perform.
If someone is looking to perform traditional gender roles, I think classic perfumes are more appropriate because of the historic position they play in film, fashion, and advertising. They have established those connotations.
The Aequill ‘sound’ range is more fluid in terms of gender alignment, and focuses most on sensation, transformation and emotion.
Thanks Ecka, where can our readers hear more of your sound works?
You can hear my music on Bandcamp
Click here to her Instagram for news on her future releases and performances.