Meet Gwen Vollering: She DJs smells

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Ever heard of an aroma jockey?

We hadn’t until last week. Turns out they’re pretty cool…

Aroma jockeys came to our attention with the announcement of Sencity. A massive party taking party in London’s Oval this weekend – October 24/25 – Sencity is dedicated to stimulating all your senses and not just the standard raving ones.

Extra sensory attractions on offer include ‘feel the music suits’, vibrating dancefloors, VJs, FJs (food jockeys!) and whole load of other cool things you don’t see at every event…

If you’re in the UK this week, the Friday leg looks especially inviting as they’ve recruited Utah Jazz, Hybrid Minds, Bryan Gee, Fabio & Grooverider, Bailey, Furney and one Gwen Vollering… The aroma jockey who will be complementing the all-star D&B cast with a different smell for each tune they drop.

Beats catching a whiff of the smoker/boozer/sweaty person besides you, right? And then some.

Following our nose for new club technologies, we called up Gwen to find out a little more…

Mixing smells… this really is a thing, right?

Of course! Although we use the term ‘scents’ rather than smells.

Ah, sorry!

That’s fine. So anyway I originally heard about an aroma jockey called 0do7. He’s basically the godfather of this. He’s been doing it for a long, long time and we’ve developed our technique with Sencity for about a decade.

So where do you buy your scents? What is the aroma jockey equivalent of a record store or a download store?

We have our secret places for that! Most of our scents are mixed in our lab but anyone can buy little scent bottles at shops like The Body Shop.

An average scent last how long, then?

An average scent lasts the same amount of time that a song does and will gradually fade away in time for the next song. With every new song there’s a new vibe. A new sense of emotions. Every scent evokes a different set of emotions.

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And it’s your job to enhance what the DJ is playing…

Yes. I hear a song, identify the emotion and match it with a scent.  I usually pack and prepare around 200 scents for a show. They’re all based on natural oils and are a very careful balance that’s prepared to last the right amount of time and not be too overpowering. I don’t do any of the mixing on the night, that would be too complicated, I do all the blends in advance and have them prepared for the night.

Tell us about the emotions…

I work on six basic emotions: Love, excitement, lust, happiness, power, relaxed. Mint uplifts people and can inspire a great sense of power. Soft smells like strawberry match the emotion of love. Something sweet smelling evokes happiness. Flowers can make people feel very relaxed. And there are all sorts of different combinations in between.

Sounds awesome. So how do you actually mix the scents in the first place? Last time we checked Pioneer haven’t released any scent decks.

No they haven’t. It’s actually very striking visually. We developed a special technique to create steam that, together with heated oils, is spread around the room by large fans. We have to be very careful with the amount of steam we create – too much can overpower a room too much. It’s the equivalent of playing the wrong record in a mix; people will leave the dancefloor.

Clanger! Do you have any scents that are totally unique to you? Like the aroma equivalent of a dubplate?

Actually right now I’m working on a series of scents. A product line, if you like, with scent oils for six different moods so people can choose what vibe they want to get into. I’ll keep you posted on that one!

Nice. Finally, what’s your favourite go-to scent that always has the best reaction when used with the right tune? Like the aroma equivalent of a rewind…

I have my very own special mix. It’s based on something sweet mixed with mint. It always makes people look up and wonder what it is. They recognise the mint but can’t locate it as it has something different that they can’t quite put their finger on.  It’s great for giving the crowd a bit of a shake up and perfect for those moments when the DJs want to boost the floor to a higher level.

LEVEL UP: See here for more details on Sencity. If you’re in London on October 24/25 be sure to check out this unique event.