Based out of the creative hub of Brooklyn, New York, David Seth Moltz (DS) and Kavi Moltz (Durga) first started creating perfumes as unique gifts for friends. Almost 10 years later, D.S. & Durga’s fragrance offering is becoming a cult favourite around the world.
Drawing inspiration from historical, musical and literary sources, DS taught himself how to make perfume by becoming immersed in the world of scent, learning the craft from scratch. His wife Kavi took on the design side of the project, making sure that the presentation of the fragrances is akin to fine architecture and fitting of DS’s creations.
Building the business from the ground up the duo’s perfume house now includes such scents such as Burning Barbershop, Rose Atlantic, Freetrapper, White Peacock Lily and Mississippi Medicine. They are bold fragrances, for those interested in wearing something with a little more depth.
How important is the element of storytelling when it comes to crafting scents?
It’s the only way I know how to do it. We did make one with no story – Vio-Volta, which was interesting. But I find people want more to bite on than just a fragrance.
What sources did you first look to when first starting out in the business?
I read lots of outdated herbal manuscripts and Native American plant wisdom books. I started with the plants and moved up to the oils they make and then to the synthetics that can conjure anything.
How do you work to create a balance between the historical references and yet keep things within a modern context?
I’m interested in history – imaging how times and places were. But our design and ethos is decidedly modern. We don’t want to pretend we live anywhere else but the present.
What are some of the earliest memories you have around scent?
Lemon dish soap in the sink. The forest behind my parents house in the winter. The scent of the ocean – dominant all over my town (Swampscott, MA).
How big of a part does nostalgia play in peoples fragrance tastes?
I think people enjoy smelling something they have smelled before. Like they are surprised they were able to pick up on a scent – as many people don’t think they have a good sense of smell. Many people don’t realise the power of the stories you can tell and the messages you can imply with scent. Of course it’s connection to memory is well documented.
How much has your background in food and music shaped what you do with D.S. & Durga?
I never went too deep in food, but I had a mentoring relationship with a guitar teacher who is a chef. He taught me the difference between good and great, which is a lesson that can be applied to all disciplines. I’ll always be a musician – I look at perfume and music making as two sides of the same coin.
With the current political climate, how important do you think the American artisanal scene is in creating a new business ethic?
I think globally people care more about the origin of what they buy. It will be necessary to make the world a better place. We have a long way to go. But the problem is complex. I try to stick to intention, rather than get bogged down in strict rules.
How much do you enjoy the process of creating over the business side of things?
I love creating the most. But the industry is exciting. Kavi and I love watching it grow. Many of the business things are exciting – marketing, sales, content, relationships, interacting with customers. Some aspects are less fun of course. But we take it in our stride.
Why do you think that perfume exists in modern society?
Joy. Artistic expression. A way to carry with us rich stories, memories and access to a collective unconsciousness.
(This interview was previously published on Undone Journal in 2018)