Smells Like Teen Spirit: 7 Naff Indie Band Scents You Didn’t Know About

What does your bouquet say about you? No, I don’t mean that red wine stain all down your shirt, I’m talking about your fragrance, nitwit. It was so much easier for indie kids back in the 90s where – boy or girl – you could splash on some Ck One and head down to Popscene to pogo around to Supergrass until your head fell off. Now the choice of pop perfumes out there are staggering, and even the indiest-schmindiest of bands seem to be getting in on the act. Soon there’ll be indie noses out there who’ll be able to take a good whiff of you and detect the intoxicating mélange of crushed almond and caramelised goats cheese with a sparkle of extracted bat brains and heather, and identify it in an instant as eau de Cerebral Ballzy, but in the meantime here’s a guide to ten of the least likely essences in indie, to help you through the confusion of this newest of phenomenons.


Black Lips
Former Domino electronic noiseniks Black Lips (now on Vice Records) are about to transform the live experience into something even more multidimensional and strange, when they play forthcoming “scented” gigs. According to a press release, the self-described ‘flower punks’ from Atlanta recognise “the powerful effect of scent on emotion and memory” and have therefore “worked with a team of olfactory scientists to craft a band-specific scent that will be disseminated throughout the duration of their shows, evoking ‘ocean’, ‘cedar’, ‘moon’, ‘denim’, ‘squid ink’, ‘fire’, and ‘semen (if the man only ate fresh plums for about a week)’ among other aromas.” Be sure to put me down for a +1 for that one.


Tim Hecker, Kode9 and Ben Frost.
Here you get three for one in a media gimmick surely even cleverer than Diet Coke in a black can for men. Unsound – the travelling festival – has teamed up with three musicians for Ephemera, a project that will see experimental electronica purveyors of various sub-genres, Tim Hecker, Kode8 and Ben Frost, release their own fragrances unto the world in collaboration with Berlin’s “avant-garde perfumer” Geza Schoen. Depending on your mood on any given day, you can try Drone, Bass or Noise respectively, for that musky, brutalist, cyborg reading J.G. Ballard’s Crash on the U-Bahn aura, although all clearly with their own individualist nuances like the many faces of Judi Dench that all look a bit cross.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
Surely the most unlikely of all the artists you could imagine having their own perfume is Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, and that’s probably why someone suggested it! The company behind the ruse, Sanae Intoxicants, might sound like joke perfumists to you and me, but at $230 a bottle, those aren’t joke prices. So what does it smell of? Dusty bones and hearing aids? Bonnie Billy says: “Underneath the bouquet of the mukhallat, on a warm, Egyptian jasmine, tobacco night, rocks the ancient, romantic rhythm of the Assam oud. Relish in this mystical, swirling dance. It will light up all who surround you.” So there you have it!


Father John Misty (above)
And Sanae Intoxicants strike again, as they secure the signature endorsement of one Father John Misty, ex of Fleet Foxes, for a special lady cologne called Innocence. Let’s do a blindfold test for this one. Mmmmm, hmmmm, it has a rustic nosegay garlanded with a dash of urine on foxglove, with just a soupçon of mangled pixies thrown in. How did we do? ‘Innocence’ contains “pure botanical fragrances of Sweet Orange Oil, Tunisian Neroli, Mimosa Absolute, Violet Absolute, Jasmine Grand, Bourbon Vanilla, and Linden Blossom.” Damn, so close!

Yacht are a proper bunch of shockers. Not only have the indie poppers co-opted an entire genre for their own name without sounding anything like Yacht Rock, but they’re also taking on the Beyoncé’s of this world with their own stink – in collaboration with their hometown’s Olo Fragrance. So if they don’t sound Yacht then they’re not going to smell Yacht, so what do they smell like? Well, they’re from Portland, Oregon, so their Shangri-La perfume ($35.00 a bottle from their website) probably possesses a redolence of crushed rose petals, with a bouquet of hipster coffee shop and a scintilla of Gus Van Sant. Swish!

Charlotte Gainsbourg
Indie might be pushing it, but she does collaborate with Beck and indie director and rascal Lars Von Trier, and she certainly has plenty of what used to be called indie cred with more than a whisper of Parisian chic thrown in. Charlotte is the perfect choice to be a perfume ambassador then, and her Balenciage Paris apparently has an aroma of “violet leaves with notes of mossy woods and other strikingly Parisian notes”. Her late father Serge used to have his own scent. It was called booze and fags.



Sex Pistols
Never shy of making some filthy lucre these days, the Sex Pistols have their own Sex Pistols Etat Libre d`Orange for women and men range, with “accords” that include “fresh spicy citrus”, “leather” and “patchouli”. Thankfully they don’t do their own range of Body Butter, because you might get confused and eat it following Johnny Rotten’s ‘Country Life’ ads, and then where would we be? In hospital probably.

Perfume Genius
After several hours of scouring the internet it transpires that Mike Hadreas, aka Perfume Genius, doesn’t appear to have any kind of perfume range at all. What kind of a crazy bullshitter is he? Somebody needs to get tradings standards on the blower etc etc…


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