Our friend John Keske, who now runs Deep Midnight Perfumes in the wake of his partner Cat Marx’s passing (you can read our past interviews with her here) has some new scents to share, and we asked him all about it below:
What do you associate with autumn?
Autumn is my favorite time of year. When the air becomes crisp and cool is when I come alive—taking walks or drives to look at fall leaves, taking a trip to Duluth or Grand Marais to enjoy the north shore of Lake Superior to enjoy the change in season, even just braving the Twin Cities weather without a jacket for as long as possible. This is also the perfect time to cook fall comfort food like soup, roasted squash, anything that would go on a Thanksgiving table. Watching cult Halloween movies like Sleepy Hollow or binging Lord of the Rings also feels like fall to me. I have strong memories of doing things with my grandparents in the fall. Picking peaches from their tree so tall we had to climb onto the roof to get them all, freezing vegetables from the garden (an all day affair), holiday dinners, and much more.
What does autumn smell like to you? And how do you create scents around that?
Scent memory is such a huge inspiration for Deep Midnight Perfumes. It is the reason we started the shop creating scents the way we did—associating a scent with a story. Autumn smells like changing winds with crisp and dry air and loamy earth; dried leaves and spices; bonfires and baked goods; apples and pumpkins; sweet candy and fruits, and many other things. I try to create scents that remind me of those things and make me remember favorite fall memories.
Can you tell us about some of your favorite scents you’ve created lately, and have any past favorites changed?
From the Eight Bouquets set I made in the Spring, my favorites are Tupelo Honey and True Love’s Crystal. From the Women of the Weird set I just made for fall, my favorites are Margot the Darkness and Agnes the Shadow. Not only are the scents my favorites, but they are actually the names of characters Cat played in one of our D&D games several years ago. It was a delightfully weird game where we each played a random castle guard until a monster dispatched us, and then we were another random guard. Half the fun was coming up with grandiose names.
Lately, I have been reminded that Black Wings was an old favorite I recently came to appreciate again. I have also really been a fan of Fezziwig’s Tea. It’s a really crisp, underrated scent. I have also really been appreciating Firefly Valley. Cat made it for me based on a time we went walking through a wooded valley and suddenly found we were surrounded by hundreds of tiny frogs the size of a thumbnail. The name is a stretch, but it was better than putting frogs in the name.
Do you have any witch inspired scents?
Absolutely! Driaxus Black, Winter Queen, Griselda’s Garden, the What’s Up Witches sample set… the list goes on. Anything supernatural, fey, fantastical, and weird is definitely in our purview, and witchy things are no exception.
How do you stay weird?
Solitude. Being alone (at least for a time) is the best way to find yourself. Refusing to not be myself by refusing to try to fit in. Talking to myself, believe it or not. I thought it was a bad habit, but it is actually an acknowledgement of your inner self, and a fantastic way to work through problems. Talking to people who are gone, in one way or another. It offers your mind a chance to find a different perspective by imagining a conversation with someone who is not you, putting yourself in their shoes. Pacing—literally pacing. It gets you out of your chair and gives your mind a break. Having one too many cats. I also do a lot of nerdy things, like playing games and making perfume!
See more at deepmidnightperfumes.com