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Cercle creates experiences and organises festivals and concerts that shine the spotlight on cultural and natural heritage with a fusion of music, aesthetics and showcasing artists and venues. In early 2022 the company was contacted by Ugo Charron, Mane perfumer and member of indie electronic band Cosmic Gardens. Their discussions led to the creation of an olfactory signature for Cercle and its musical events. Tested for the first time in Sevilla’s Plaza de España in April, the Golden Hour scent will be diffused on 10 July in Geneva for a concert in front of Saint Pierre Cathedral.
The Cercle Monday music sessions were the brainchild of Derek Barbolla, who launched them in Paris in 2016. They initially took place every week. A few million YouTube, Instagram and Facebook subscribers later, Cercle decided to space out performances while putting more into preparation, production and communication. The members of the Cercle team have become experts in filming and streaming musical events organised throughout the world. Their goal now is to promote cultural and natural heritage thanks to unique and memorable experiences, with shows regularly taking place at UNESCO-listed sites. “Around four years ago we began thinking seriously about what people who attend our events experience. We wanted participation in a Cercle Show to become an unforgettable memory in someone’s life. So we decided to redesign how we stage events, and as part of this process Derek had the idea of an olfactory signature,” explains the Cercle team.
Perfumer at Mane in New York since 2020, Ugo Charron is also a musician. He learned to play the piano when he was young and fell in love with electronic music as a teenager. He is one half of Cosmic Gardens, the band he created with Clément Mercet in 2019. The two of them regularly experiment with perfuming their concerts, like in June 2022 at the Lincoln Center and more recently at the National Sawdust in Brooklyn. “Perfumery and music are two invisible worlds that have to be materialised using a shared language that makes them comprehensible. I think we can justifiably talk about synaesthetic language,” he says.
The concept of allying the olfactory and musical spheres to create immersive and memorable events is based on the fact that the experiences we remember the best call on all our channels of perception. As the Cercle team points out: “Memories are often said to have a smell. Olfactory memory has an extremely powerful impact on the emotions, which is why we wanted to develop staging that incorporates a dimension with the power to create memories and make a lasting mark on our community’s minds. Our first signature, Golden Hour, is also a way for us to take our quest for sensoriality and experientiality deeper.”
The accidental encounter resulting from Ugo Charron’s Instagram message to Philippe Tuchmann, the Cercle creative director, paved the way for the company to take its project further and transcend the technical constraints inherent to these types of events. Perfuming a space stretching across several thousand square metres, exposed to the wind and sun and sometimes even water takes some serious thought. These factors make it far more complicated to diffuse a scent homogeneously – something that is nevertheless key to ensuring that participants in each session have an equivalent experience. With technical support from Mane and ScentAir, the air care partner, the young perfumer tackled the project with determination and enthusiasm. The natural bonds between music and perfume fostered productive discussions between both sides in the project, the foundations for what has since become a genuine friendship. “I had a few hunches before we met. We had organised an olfactory session with Derek, Anaïs, Lola and Marcelo. The Cercle team really wanted to take the time to smell Mane’s ingredients, which made a big difference to me. It gave me an understanding of how they really felt. Despite the fact perfume was a totally new world for them, our shared musical sensibilities meant it was easy to understand each other. The words chosen to describe their emotions when they smelled were really to the point,” says Ugo Charron.
Before the encounter with the perfumer, the Cercle team had organised a creative workshop to define what the olfactory signature should convey: “The words that came up included, for example, ‘captivating, freedom, lightness, airy, party, travel and sunset’.” Ugo Charron explains that he used the initial brief to translate these concepts into a scent as well as the team’s reactions and tastes during the olfactory session: “Everyone agreed on sustainable bergamot from Italy. Derek loves coffee, he asked me if it could be included.” An amusing detail which also gave the note some tension and bite with the use of Coffeewood, a captive from Mane’s palette. It needed a counterpoint and an ingredient to ensure that as many people as possible could feel at home with the perfume, since concerts take place all over the world. Orange blossom, a reassuring and relatively universal reference point, was the logical choice. Tonka bean, iris and Orcanox upcycled (a captive with a gentle woody amber effect) reflect the visual warmth given off by the shows Cercle puts on: they always take place at sunset, when venues and audiences are bathed in the enveloping light of the “golden hour” which gave the perfume its name. “One of the names of the submissions was in fact Sunset BPM [Beat Per Minute],” notes the perfumer.
Golden Hour was diffused for the first time during a concert in April by Mochakk on the Plaza de España in Seville, whose streets are drenched in the smell of orange blossom at that time of year. It certainly is a striking coincidence when you know that Ugo had no idea where Golden Hour would be presented when he made it! This first diffusion posed a major technical challenge, with 5,000 people in attendance, 31,000 square metres to perfume and the wind blowing. But positive feedback from festival-goers has encouraged the company to continue with the adventure: “Lots of people felt that the perfume was fully in harmony with the Cercle image, a sunny aroma with the scent of holidays, well-being and freedom! For us, Golden Hour is now the olfactory identity of our Cercle Shows. The whole story makes sense. In the future, why not imagine olfactory creations dedicated to each of our activities? But we want to take it one step at a time, without rushing into anything, so we can give Golden Hour the visibility it deserves.”
- You can watch Mochakk’s concert on the Plaza de España in Sevilla, where Golden Hour was diffused for the first time, on Cercle’s Youtube channel.
Main visual: © Maxime Chermat