Scent Profile: Sicilian Cedrat, Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Ambergris, Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Kava Kava, White Musk & Animalic Musk.
Behold, John Frum!
John Frum is from the brighter end of the musk spectrum and truly a game changer in that regard, I promise you! It is perfect for folks who don't normally feel drawn to musks. John Frum is musk like you never experienced it before! So let's dig into it, shall we? [Note: The Saga begins at the bottom of this page!]
"Wow, the most AMAZING scent from PAA ever in my opinion. Douglas Smythe this is a Grand Slam!" ~ Russ Miller, Customer
About the Note Selection
Some of the scent notes I chose I think are rather unique, or at the very least, not as common, so I thought I would break them down a little in an effort to get you into the vibe I was going for.
Sicilian Cedrat: A citrus fruit that is chiefly grown in Sicily. It is one of the original citrus fruits from which all other citrus types developed through natural hybrid speciation or artificial hybridization. The scent is truly magical, zesty, incredibly fresh and light, similar to lemons and limes with lots of sweetness but softer and more well rounded without the floor cleaner note so often found in citrus.
It wasn't only the scent that stuck out to me, but also it's origin. It really seemed thematic when it came to the John Frum story, and worked perfectly as a top note.
Kava Kava: or Piper methysticum (Latin "pepper" and Latinized Greek "intoxicating") is a crop of the Pacific Islands. The name kava(-kava) is from Tongan and Marquesan, meaning "bitter". Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii and Vanuatu, and Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia for its sedating effects.
I am proud to say, this may very well be the first time it has been used in a perfuming application! The scent of Kava Kava is very similar to Vetiver, green, dirty and earthy. Below I go into more detail on this truly special scent note, which may have had more to do with the structure of this accord than me!
Ambergris: (from wikipedia) Latin: ambra grisea, Old French: ambre gris), ambergrease, or grey amber, is a solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish colour produced in the digestive system of sperm whales. Freshly produced ambergris has a marine, fecal odor. However, with age, it acquires a sweet, dry, amber, woody, mossy fragrance. In dry-down, there is a cinnamic note, which moves into a smooth ambery musk note.
Ambergris has been very highly valued by perfumers as a fixative that allows the scent to last much longer, although it has been mostly replaced by synthetic ambroxan. Dogs are known to be attracted to the smell of ambergris and are therefore sometimes used by ambergris searchers.
I should mention, Ambergris is one of my favorites and I have used it many times in the past, but not sure how much folks know about it, I thought I'd give a little background.
Being that pure ambergris is understandably expensive, I chose to use Ambergris tincture and Ambergris Essence which is a beautiful reconstitution of Ambergris known as 'Ambergris T Oliffac' by IFF.
White Musk: or Synthetic musks have a clean, smooth and sweet scent lacking the fecal notes of animal musks. Synthetic musks in a narrower sense are chemicals modeled after the main odorants in animal musk: muscone in deer musk, civetone in civet, and ambroxide in ambergris. Muscone and civetone are macrocyclic ketones, ambroxide is a cyclic ether.
Animalic Musk: To get as close as I could to actual deer musk I chose to use Animalid, which shares a lot of the same characteristics as standard white musk but maintains that fecal note. Now I know what you're thinking, but trust me, that note is used in many a popular, historic, and famous fragrance. It functions as a supportive actor and you would never know it was there, but you would if it wasn't. It is that primal element that adds an unmistakable depth to classic musk.
The Familiar Notes
As for the other notes that make up John Frum, I think most of our customers are familiar with them; Black Pepper, Sea Salt, and Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood. The sea salt was added not only for the relation to the theme of the fragrance but also because it worked so well with the Sicilian Cedrat. In combination they added a real zing and freshness. I think the black pepper can be included in that sentiment with the classic spiciness it delivers, which was a throwback to classic splashes. Sandalwood I just can't stay away from, but its use wasn't in vain for it truly grounded the entire blend.
So Who is this John Frum and why should I praise him?
Well for one, this is probably one of the most epic modern musks available right now! Musks seem almost an afterthought to the rest of the world, but as I have mentioned many a time over the last few months, I see a BIG COMEBACK in effect!
I approached John Frum with serious intention, with a desire to capture that classic manly musk of yesteryear, the stuff they just don't make any more or seem to give a damn about. John Frum is more in line with what your grandpappy wore...an Instant Classic...however, more worldly and refined.
But back to the question at hand, who is this John Frum?
Well, it's not such an easy question to answer. You see, John Frum for lack of a better descriptor, is a god, at least to the well-meaning natives of the tiny island of Tanna located in the South Pacific. Sure, he looks like a WW2 era fighter pilot, but man does he have the power to make it rain precious cargo over the island!
The John Frum religion was born out of a cargo cult in the 1940s. During that time Japan and the USA were really going at it in the South Pacific, each had forces occupying different islands that would serve as pit stop type bases, where fighters could refresh & refuel then take off again and head back into battle.
The island of Tanna hosted both Japanese forces, and then eventually the USA. It is suspected that after the Japanese left the island a few American soldiers, most likely flyboys, were sent out to do recon and see if the coast was clear on Tanna, not only that, but if it would serve the missions purpose.
All the while the poor, curious, wide eyed islanders watched as these two advanced world super powers occupied their land. They observed the strange rituals, men in uniform marching with boom sticks, saluting each other, the construction of air traffic towers, the strange signal dance done with flags and flares towards the heavens...all this and more, which when done correctly would clearly lead to the gods raining cargo down from the heavens!
It is highly probable that during these early recon missions, one of the pilots introduced himself to the natives.
"Hey fellas, I'm John, John from...New York, New Jersey, wherever..."
But all they heard in their shock and amazement was "I am John Frum."
Clearly, this strangely dressed man was a god. He may have even promised them that the USA was here now, and we were going to take care of them with lots of cargo. For a time, the natives did indeed receive many gifts from the soldiers, which reinforced their belief.
After the war ended the soldiers left the island, and this is when the cargo cult of John Frum was really born. The natives soon began building fake runways, air traffic towers and even fake straw aircraft. They carved wooden rifles and marched in formation. They lit signal fires and raised the American Flags on poles. All for precious cargo. After all, if these rituals they observed worked for the soldiers, surely it would work for them. One day soon John Frum would return to them with cargo in hand!
Now mind you, this is not an isolated event. Cargo Cults like this have popped up all over the world, and oddly enough share the same belief system. A few even still exist! This includes the John Frum and Tom Navy cults.
This is just another part of our curious war time history that I think a lot of folks missed out on. I find just as interesting as other, more famous events and phenomenon, if not more so! So, with all this in mind I made it my personal mission to put together a very special, classic scent that would somehow capture all this wackiness and wonder of a cargo cult. I got so into this project I nearly drugged myself into a coma...for real.
Well, maybe not a coma, but it wasn't looking good...I better explain.
In the South Pacific Island culture, a popular, and potent plant is consumed, Kava Kava. It's primarily a sedative, but when prepared ritually it is taken communally and passed around in a circle of men. When done right, the effects are numbing and euphoric at the same time. Those of you who follow what I do know that I will often base a scent on the flora of a location, in an attempt to try to bring that area of tribute to life. In the case of John Frum, I was curious about the scent of Kava Kava and hoped that through distillation I could get some essential oil from the roots, or at the very least a hydrosol, to add to the aftershave.
After several attempts at distillation I failed to procure any essential oil, but the Kava Kava hydrosol did floweth, and man, if this is stuff is not related to vetiver at some level, I'd be shocked! Turns out Kava Kava has a very strong, green, and dirty scent! Seriously, this is some really nice stuff, and as I mentioned, very comparable to the scent of vetiver. [Vetiver fans will love the subtle undertones of Kava Kava that can be found in the accord.]
Actually, this wasn't my first time dabbling with Kava Kava. Back in the day I use to take capsules of it after a heavy work out and before bed or make a Kava Kava tea. You may remember seeing it yourself in health food stores. It really was excellent stuff if you needed to mellow out and insomnia was not an option. Granted, neither the capsules, or tea bags were as potent as when made in the Island tradition.
I was also given a Kava Kava *ceremonial bowl by an ex-girlfriend about 15 years ago after she returned from Fiji, where she observed the consumption of this magical stuff in real time. Again, I had only taken capsules and tea back in the day and never really experienced the Real Deal Kava Kava. Now after all this John Frum research you could say I was more than curious- I was Ready Ready. *You'll see the bowl in a few John Frum Photos!
So, I dug around online and found a couple variations on the traditional recipe. Now with fresh Kava Kava Root in hand and my ceremonial bowl and masher I was ready. After about 45 minutes of preparation the milky white, vetiver smelling juice was all set to consume.
I sat in a comfortable chair in the living room and drank all of it. After only what seemed a few minutes I melted into the armchair, both my mouth and tongue went completely numb; tingly. I felt like I was smiling but I doubt those tiny muscles were really working. I just laughed, everything was great, I wanted to dance, sing, possibly write a poem but could not move! It's said, it is impossible to hate or get angry when drinking Kava Kava, and man are they right.
In my mind’s eye I started to put together the different notes I then somehow knew would work well in the scent blend, with much effort I managed to jot down the scent blend almost as if the Kava Kava root was dictating it to me. In recollection, it sounds kind of far out or silly, but at the time this was a very serious matter...well, kinda serious, there was that perma-smile on my face, real or imagined.
I eventually fell asleep only to be shaken awake by Fran many hours later! It turns out the recipe I made was for 5-8 grown men, for a real kava kava ceremony! The reason why I am sharing this story with you is just to give you a little peek into what goes into my scent exploration and some of the really dumb stuff I do in an effort to deliver something really unique or authentic, something much more than a simple aftershave or soap, but a full-fledged experience...even if it kills me in the process.
Also in the splash you will find 4 very potent, effective plant extracts: Aloe Vera, Bayberry, Coffeeberry and Seaweed. As far as I know, I was the first artisan to utilize plant extracts in an effort to boost the beneficial attributes of an aftershave, and John Frum is no different, I went all out! The scent of Bayberry also lends itself to the base of the fragrance quite nicely!
Bayberry is considered an astringent herb, with a thick and soothing scent note. Coffeeberry: The polyphenolic antioxidant contained within the extract soaks up damaging free radicals and may help to reduce the appearance of fine lines. Polyphenols from Coffeeberry can help reduce puffiness on skin. As for Seaweed Extract, the same mix of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and antioxidants that can benefit your body when you eat it, can also help your skin when applied topically! I probably don't need to go into how wonderful Aloe Vera is, truly a wonder plant it be.
So, after all that, I believe John Frum to be one of the finest, most unique modern musk scents out there. Unique in composition, bright, spicy and refreshing, classic in scent and epic when it comes to dry down and projection!
All Praise John Frum!
100 Ml Glass Flask w/ Orifice
Ingredients: Alcohol, Kava Kava Hydrosol, Essential Oils, Fragrance Oils, Vegetable Glycerin, Aloe Vera, Hedione, Bayberry Extract, Coffeeberry Extract, Seaweed Extract