10 Questions with D.S. & Durga

01When constructing fragrances, are there any particular notes or scents that you continually find yourself drawn to? (The olfactory equivalent of listening to an album on heavy rotation.)
I go through phases. I'm always interested in what grows by the side of the road — forgotten herbs and shrubs that are important in folk medicine. I love radiant materials that feign brightness and volume.
02If you were to draw parallels from music or architecture to what you're doing now – what are the most prevalent similarities in the creative process for you?
Perfume and music are both invisible. They let your imagination enter other realms. This invisibility gives them a power to conjure up very personal and meaningful experiences for the listener/sniffer.
03Speaking of music, what can you tell us about your recent ‘musical scent machine' performance launch of El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas. We're suddenly having visions of you as a badass Willy Wonka of the fragrance world.
I've been thinking about a way to bring my two creative outlets together for a long time. Bruce Johans, the inventor who created it, helped me figure out a way to bring scents to an audience on the fly without overpowering their senses. The music of our new group Copal Opal started as background to the mini-films about our HYLNDS perfume series. I was trying to make pseudo-Viking music. Once I realized you could make music that conjured up pretend worlds (just like scent), I expanded the ideas into all the regions that I've been interested in for years - West Africa, Delta music, ragas, etc. When we spoke with Liz Lambert and her team about the collaborative scent, I mentioned this idea and she loved it. They are so open minded and creative and they really got what I was going for. El Cosmico was the best place to have this performance because the teepee provided a a natural flow of air from top to bottom.
"I love radiant materials that feign brightness & volume."
04We usually like asking interviewees what their favorite local eating and shopping destinations are. In this case however, do you have any New York destinations that stand out for their amazing smells?
There is a magnolia in Underwood Playground that flowers early and is indescribably beautiful. I love to find the first violets that sprout up and smell them when they are in full midday sun - they are everywhere now. Fort Greene Park, Prospect Park and all the little gardens on the streets of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden has a great selection of plants year round. There is a Gardenia tree in the Bronx Botanic Garden that will knock your socks off with its sweet vanilla-white salicylate-rotting fruit-jasmine palette. The bar at the Gramercy Hotel smells incredible - fireplace. Boat gas down by the docks on the west side remind me of childhood.
05One of the unique aspects of DS & Durga's roots was this idea of small batch production. How has that process evolved as demand for your brand has grown?
We still oversee every aspect, so there isn't much of a difference. I used to hand make it all though - which isn't legal. It's still all hand made in New York, but now its made in a certified lab with all the proper licenses and documentation needed to compound perfume.
06What can you tell us about some of the more meaningful objects and artifacts of inspiration that you've surrounded yourself with at home and in your studio? Anything that you can't live without?
The only thing I care about materially is records. The music, the words, and the images all influence what I do. Books are important as well. When I see an image I like, i will cut it out and put it on the wall. Over time it becomes an inspiration wall (at the studio).
07As business partners who are also married, how do you manage to separate your work lives from your home lives?
We work in different spaces, our roles are mostly we try not to work.
08Are there any particular scents that you associate with the 'home' that you've made together?
There is a constant influx of ideas coming into the home for us to test. But all the winners remind me of certain times and places that I tried to capture.
"The music, the words, and the images
all influence what I do."
09Do you have any insights that you can share about launching your own brand?
Lots to say on this of course! You learn from the bumps. Most important is that while keeping an eye on what people respond to, you have to make what you love and what you think is best. It is impossible to please all parties. Make the very best product that you can. And keep making it better as you go.
10What's on the horizon (professionally or personally) that you're most excited about in the months ahead?
We are going to release 100mls in 5 new scents and continue to upgrade our packaging. We are also going to release bar soap, hand soap, and hand cream.