Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interview With Andy Tauer

by Tonie Silver

Le Parfumeur Rebelle is privileged to present an interview with Andy Tauer. Andy is a perfumer in Zurich, Switzerland. Le Parfumeur Rebelle's Editor In Chief became smitten with Andy after extensive perusal of his site.

Welcome to LPR Andy.

Well, thank you! It is a pleasure you invited me to this chat and I hope you and your readers will enjoy our conversation. 

Can you tell our readers what fragrance means to you?

Fragrances mean different things to me. For sure fragrances are a means of expressing myself in a creative way. I like the process of constructing a fragrance, going through rounds of trials, trying to find the best scented picture fitting with my vision/idea in my head. My fragrances and my fragrance making are also a way of talking to people. I feel that- besides reading about me on my blog- people get a glimpse on my way of thinking and feeling by looking at my perfumes, respectively sniffing them. Nowadays, with increasing sales figures that still make me wonder why this is, my fragrances have also become a commercial issue and I tend to think a lot about what next steps to make in terms of marketing or packaging, pricing etc. This world of business has nothing to do with scent itself, but it became a part of my fragrance-related world. I am still learning the lessons that it is simply not good enough to just make a good fragrance, you have to tell the world and make sure that people understand your message, for instance by selecting the right visual communication, too.And then: I am a fragrance user, too. Here, fragrances mean to me: Simply enjoying to cover myself with a sheet of scent. In these scented clothes I am then ready to go through my day, enjoying it.

Here at LPR we don't employ the use of synthetics. I'm interested in your choice to include them; is this because there are things you just can't get with botanicals?

Thank you for this question; I appreciate it a lot. Well, I started perfumery using all natural components only. Recently I posted on my blog about the way a perfumer apprentice should get to know his/her palette of scents. I think naturals are the best (and only way) to learn about creating perfumes. Nature provides us with some wonderful scents that a perfumer absolutely needs to know thoroughly (like roses essential oils, or absolutes). I find the compounds isolated by man from natural sources to be more inspiring for a future perfumer, too. And I find a beauty in naturals that I do not find as such in single synthetic compounds. Hence, I want to make use of this beauty and maybe- if I am good enough- lift it to something different, master them to create something new. Why did I not stop there, using my naturals and creating so called natural fragrances? Simply because I realized that I can do much more by employing synthetics in a clever way. I use man made compounds somewhat carefully, in a complementing way. I use them to set accents, to highlight things, to extend lines and to fix notes. On the other hand, mastering synthetics is not easy. Some notes need extremely careful handling! Maybe one word on the distinction between naturals and synthetics. I feel that most of the discussions on naturals vs. synthetics are unnecessary, in the sense that we are discussing content before form. Sometimes it reminds me of people discussing which church to visit, instead of asking how to make the world a better place.

Andy, can you give LPR readers a glimpse into your creative process?

My creative process is a mess, somehow. And a pain, mostly. Initially, I start with an idea, sometimes very simple, like I want to make an orange flower soliflor or I want a woody cologne for myself. I start with such an idea, or a picture in mind, like the campfire, the cowboy, the leather, the grassland for the Lonestar Memories, and then I draw the first lines. I usually do this in Excel first. Sitting in front of my computer and just entering a few compounds, like Tonka, Sandalwood, Myrrh in the base, a few notes for the heart and a few notes for the head. With this simple list I then go to the lab which basically is a table and a chair with lots of bottles in a shelf next to it. Here I mix and while doing so I constantly compare the result with my idea in my head. I usually start adding other things on the go and the formula gets more complicated. Usually, I start with naturals as the corestructure and then add synthetics in a later phase to change tonalities etc. Thus, the formula gets more complicated, and sometimes I try very different routes to reach the same goal. The most promising is then followed, whereby I gradually, incrimentally move towards an imaginary target. This target- of course- I never reach, but sometimes I feel like I'm getting closer at least. Sometimes I reach a point where I feel happy with it, happy enough to show the result around. Mostly, I don't and simply throw it away. Things get messy and painful, when I do not get closer to my goal; it brings me into a state of fever somehow, where I tend to think about my challenge in a phobic way, starting in the morning and ending in the evening. If things do not work out, I may also just give up for a while, and come back later again with new ideas or concepts.How do you incorporate fragrance into your daily life?I do not wear perfumes every day, some days I don't simply in order to keep my nose fresh for my perfumery work. Mentally, fragrances or better: scents are with me daily. I bring up scents from my memory, assemble them in my brain's biological virtual space, arrange them and play with them. Often, I go to bed with a fragrance, too. Falling asleep with the cozy embracement of scents is wonderful!

Five favorite smells?

Rose absolute from Morocco

Orange flower (natural scent or the absolute)

Birch tar

Fresh brewed coffee in the air in the morning

Sandalwood on the skin in the evening and so many more....

Least favorite odor?

I really dislike the scent of: an old, wet, used for too long, never really dried washcloth or a even worse: towel. There, I am somewhat pathologically fixed.  (I'm with you on that one Andy~ TM)

Let's play a bit of olfactory word association Andy; I'll throw a word at you, & you reply with whatever smells they evoke.

Love: Milk, sweat

Fury: The warm chest of a red haired fellow youngster at school, one evening, some 27 years ago.

The Ocean: Algae

Switzerland: Hmm... home, a mix of 200 scents.

Happiness: Frankincense

Any advice for the Rebel Perfumers out there?

Yes, please follow your fragrance dreams. I try to, and I know, it is not easy, but it is worth the pain.

Sage advice Andy. Thank you for the generosity of your time Andy, from all of us at LPR.
Auf Wiedersehen:)

My pleasure.

For more information about Andy Tauer, Perfumer, please follow this link:

Reprint from LPR 2006

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