Interview & Giveaway with Aubrey Bramble, songstress, scenteur, and crystal-slinger.

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Isn’t a wonderful thing when you discover that someone you admire for one particular reason actually has another, previously unknown-to-you facet that is equally, fascinating?

Captivating songstress Aubrey Rachel Violet Bramble is one half of the duo Golden Gardens, whose shimmering, shadowy sound I became aware of through my dear friend and ghost poet, Sonya Vatomsky. I can think of few greater pleasures than new music to obsess over! Few, that is…except for fragrance. And so you can imagine my surprise when I realized that Aubrey is also a crystal worker, an aromatherapist, and the proprietress of Swan Children Alchemy for which she creates and sells “Oil blends, crystal magic, and herbal wisdom for personal empowerment and maximum luminosity.”

Well, am I the grandchild of the world’s nosiest woman, or what? You know my interest was piqued to a fever pitch and of course I had tons of questions for Aubrey. She has graciously indulged my curiosity below, as well as generously offered a few of her scents for a giveaway here at Unquiet Things!  One winner will be chosen at random on September 23rd and will receive two fragrances listed below. To enter, just leave a comment about your current obsessions, or recommend to us something that you adore! Nothing to repost anywhere, and no, you don’t have to be following either of us on instagram, but I mean, why wouldn’t you want to? Well, just in case, here we are:

Aubrey Rachel Violet Bramble @primaesq
Unquiet Things/S. Elizabeth @ghoulnextdoor

Red Room from the Twin Peaks Collection {Terror. Shadows. Doppelgängers. And a strange little dancing man. The scent of danger, unfiltered. Top notes: hallucinogenic incense smoke; Middle notes: motor oil, scorched wood; Base notes: tobacco ash, ambrette, murky forests}

The Morrigan from the Goddess Collection {A dark and mysterious forest calls to your inner crow through a deathly blend of dragon’s blood, juniper berry, black pepper, fir needle, patchouli, and sweet almond oil with an inky black onyx obelisk holding queenly court in the center of the vial.}

And now…tiptoe past the swan for my Q&A with Aubrey!

swan children
You’re a self-professed perfume addict–I am curious about the fragrances you loved when you were younger, how your tastes have changed and evolved, and what scents you are obsessing over now.

The very first “fancy” fragrance I can remember falling in love with (and one that I just wore yesterday) was Cacharel’s “LouLou.” I remember my parents purchasing it for me on a cruise ship vacation we took when I was 11. A couple of years ago, it popped back into my mind after reading Luca Turin’s and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, and I went on a mad search for it. I now wear it regularly and always get stopped by people wanting to know what I’m wearing. It’s so oddly sweet and dark and juicy and musky and intoxicating. It’s a gem.

As for the progression of my scent addiction over the years, it wasn’t always tasteful. I had an embarrassing spell of time when I wore “Exclamation!” in middle school and a peer-pressure-inspired “CK One” phase in high school (hard to type that without rolling my eyes). Luckily, post high school I seemed to be a little more mindful and discerning in my scent selections, though clearly there’s been a maturation over time. In college and directly after, I was obsessed with the original self-titled Anna Sui fragrance. The bottle and design just captured my little romantic goth heart! My early 20s were dominated by Givenchy’s “Hot Couture” and Hanae Mori’s “Butterfly.” My mid-twenties were all about “Lolita Lempicka” and Narciso Rodriguez’s “Her.” Later I became consumed by Tom Ford’s “Black Orchid: Voile de Fleur” and Fresh’s “Cannabis Santal” and “Cannabis Rose.” I’m probably still in my peak obsession phase; I currently have (and wear and love) Diptyque’s “Volutes” and “34,” Atelier Cologne’s “Orange Sanguine,” Fiele Fragrances’ “Viola,” Raw Spirit’s “Smoke,” Chanel’s “Sycomore” and “Coromandel,” Serge Lutens’ “Fille en Aiguilles,” and Santa Maria Novella’s “Gardenia.”

I tend to gravitate towards more woodsy, incense-y fragrances and super rich, dark florals. And I love strange combinations/unusual pairings of notes. I like to think of my perfume style as one part Josie Packard, one part Bjork, and one part Elizabeth Taylor – mysterious, avant-garde, decadent. My absolute favorite current perfume house is Byredo. I love and regularly wear their “Oud Immortel.” My number one signature scent of the moment is their “Black Saffron.”

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Your Twin Peaks inspired line of perfumes is such an intriguing idea! Tell us what was it about Twin Peaks that captured your imagination? Twenty five years later have you found anything else that measures up?

I remember being allowed to watch Twin Peaks when it first aired, when I was about 11 years old. (11 seems to be the magic age for this interview, huh?) It was just so completely imaginative and non-traditional. It mesmerized me, and began a lifelong David Lynch crush. I have yet to find anything that holds the intensity of magic in my heart that Twin Peaks does. I suppose being introduced to it at such a young and impressionable age has a little bit to do with the intensity of romanticism I give it, but I also think part of the magic of it all is the window of time it originally unfolded in – before that sort of adventurous programming was a regular occurrence, and before some of the more restrictive and bland/formulaic standards of modern media really dug into society. My line of Twin Peaks perfumes came about because I always found myself wondering what each of the characters smelled like, what certain environments reeked of, etc. It’s been a really fun project to explore, asking myself questions like, “Would Shelly with all that amazing spiral-curled 90s hair smell like mousse and curl spray?” Probably.

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If you could choose to bottle a scent right now capturing the essence of current artistic zeitgeist or inspired by a piece of 2016 pop culture, what do you think that might be?

I’d have to say what inspires me most about current events/current arts/the current evolution of humanity is the dissolution of and breaking free from the more restrictive and traditional ways society “expects” people to exist in the world. Despite the increased persecution and destruction and authoritarian control and trauma, people seem to be having these beautiful personal transformations in the way they express themselves both internally and externally. There seems to be a heightened commitment to authenticity and reclamation of individual power. I look at what is going on with the resurgence and rebirth of witchcraft, gender roles, self-expression, ways of earning a living. It’s really exhilarating and motivating and exciting. If I were to “bottle” that feeling or movement, I like to imagine it would be something incredibly animalistic and wild, something strangely juxtaposed and with an unmistakable presence. I immediately think of notes like aldehyde, vinyl, galbanum. Those notes that either turn you off or turn you on. It’d be a very cilantro fragrance haha.

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You mention the healing power and wisdom of stones and crystals with regard to your mystical education. I am wondering when you first noticed this deep connection and how did it develop? And personally, I am always interested in practical applications of metaphysical and psychic knowledge–I am wondering how you might utilize these philosophies and principles on a day-to-day basis?

I have always loved a pretty, sparkly crystal. My cousin used to bribe me with loose rhinestones that he told me were diamonds when i was really little, and of course I always took the bait. In my early teens I began to immerse myself in witchcraft and metaphysics, so that’s when my current connection to the magic of stones and crystals really began. What I love most about working with crystals and stones is that they are three-dimensional, physical tools – objects you can hold in your hand or place on your body and actually feel energy around. I regularly add whole crystals to my perfume/oil blends, or infuse them with a handcrafted gem essence, to add an element of vibrational magic to the potions. I wear crystals and stones as jewelry everyday, for specific intentions around energies I am trying to manifest, balance, be shielded from, increase, etc. I dream, journey, and meditate with crystals; I have conversations with them. If you intentionally tune in to the crystals and stones, they have a lot of information for you. Just sitting and holding one in your hand and asking it to share its magic with you can be pretty transformative and powerful. We all come from the Earth; sitting with a crystal is a beautiful way to reconnect with that energy.

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In addition to a perfumer, aromatherapist and crystal worker, you’re also a musician! Can you tell us as to how that came about?

I’ve always wanted to sing in a band. Always. All of my idols are dreamy vocalists (Kate Bush, Elizabeth Frasier, Harriet Wheeler, Julee Cruise). Lucky for me, my friend Gregg was looking to start a dreampop project a few years ago but was having trouble finding a singer. I asked if I could give it a try, and voila! Golden Gardens was born. We wrote one song, three more immediately followed, and within a month or so we had our first EP (Somnambulist). Now we’re working on album number three! I really love collaborating with Gregg – I feel like we are psychic music twins. We each have a very independent and unique way of working that – when combined in a final composition – creates a beautiful complexity of sound and harmony with a depth and intricacy all our own.

Photo credit: Jonath Ochs

Photo credit: Jonath Ochs

Dark, lustrous, shimmering–these are just a few words to describe Golden Gardens’ shoegaze/dream pop sound, billed as mystical music for “ghosts and shadowy spectres.” What’s your inspiration for the forthcoming album, and would you say that your sound or tone has shifted with the new stuff? And if so, why the shift?

The new record “Reign” is all about dismantling the Patriarchy and reclaiming personal power. All of the songs were inspired by fierce female archetypes throughout mythology and history. It’s an invocation to the warrior queens and the enchantresses, the priestesses and the mystics – those parts of ourselves that the status quo works so hard to shame and contain and erase.

Our sound has definitely shifted over the years, but I feel like it’s been a slow, continuous shift. We were definitely more “shoegazey” when we first started, and these days our sound is decidedly more pop-oriented. But if you’ve listened to us from the beginning, or if you go through and listen to the releases in order, I think you can hear that progression unfold in a natural, intelligent way. No matter what genre we are playing with I think one thing is always consistent, and that’s our dark mood. Everything we create has a bit of a somber overglow, even the so-called happier songs. And I absolutely love that about us. Doom and gloom 4eva.

Jumping back in time a bit, I saw that you worked with Marissa Nadler and Leslie Hall (!!!!) on a few projects; these are two wildly different musicians that I think I can say that I adore equally. Can you tell me what it was like working with them?Do you have any dreamy, pie-in-the-sky wishlist musicians or artists that you would like to work with? Who are they, and why?

Before I moved to Seattle in 2009, I was living in Tampa, FL and writing for a regional arts and music publication which provided me the opportunity to talk to/work with some of my favorite artists and musicians. Marissa Nadler and Leslie Hall were two of them. I got to interview Marissa a couple of times around the release of her album “Songs III,” and later create a music video for one of her earlier compositions, “Virginia.” (My background is in film and television.) She was always really lovely to interact with, and I’m so glad she’s become a more well-known musical name in recent years because her work is always fantastic. Meeting and working with Leslie was also pretty spectacular. She is a smart lady, that one.

As for dreamy, pie-in-the-sky wishlist artists, from a musical perspective I would love to collaborate with Max Richter or Dirty Beaches. If I could convince Gregg Araki to direct a Golden Gardens music video that would be magic.

Tell me about the art/music scene in Seattle. Do you find it to be a relatively welcoming, supportive community? And is there anything good coming out of Seattle right now that we should know about? Also, if a kindred spirit, someone with similarly gothy inclinations wanted to visit your fair city (HINT: IT ME), what are some things that you’d recommend or suggest for them?

The Seattle art/music scene is very supportive. Or, rather, it’s very encouraging. I feel like the opportunities are endless here if you’re willing to do the work to make them happen. I feel very lucky to be in a place where I can make my art and have an audience for it, feel support from the community-at-large. That is definitely a gift. The journalists, the DJs, the promoters in this town are all art and music lovers (and many times artists and musicians themselves) which makes the “scene” even stronger in my opinion. It’s a very creative town.

There are so many great things coming out of Seattle it’s hard to select a few. I am definitely loving all of the local female, trans and non-binary magic being created in this town at the moment. And I do have to say we have our witchy wares on lock with so many rad local independent witch-owned businesses (do a quick #seattle search on IG or Etsy). As for a mini-list of local-gem specifics, everyone should read Sonya Vatomsky, listen to Belgian Fog, buy art from Kirk Damer and Heidi Estey, and gaze at anything made by Allyce Andrew.

If a kindred spirit was in Seattle for 24 hours, I’d recommend they hit the following spots: Gargoyles Statuary in the University District for gothy delights, The Cunning Crow Apothecary in Greenwood for witchy wares, The Belfry in Pioneer Square for all things undead, Essenza in Fremont for luxe perfume magic, Ballard Consignment for amaze vintage treasures, Sun Liquor Lounge on Capitol Hill for a decadent cocktail, Pony on Capitol Hill for Bloodlust and/or Hero Worship, Easy Street Records in West Seattle and Everyday Music on Capitol Hill for music finds, grocery shopping at Uwajimaya and book shopping at Kinokuniya in the International District, and you must visit the grave of Brandon Lee in Lake View Cemetery because, duh.

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Between ‘fuming and crystal slinging and singing and songwriting, what do you get up to in your spare time?

Witching, Netflix binging, black cat cuddles, skinnydipping in alpine lakes, being out in nature, cooking, reading everything by Dion Fortune, drinking mass quantities of La Croix, overfilling my social schedule, worrying about everything, buying $30 lipgloss, thrift shopping to find all the All That Jazz 90s dresses a girl can uncover.

I’m always curious as to what folks are currently into/digging on: are there any books/music/movies/television/whatevers that you’ve indulged in recently and that you would recommend to Unquiet Things readers?

Books: I read a lot of witchy reference books, too many to list; Essence and Alchemy – Mandy Aftel; The Magdalen Manuscript – Tom Kenyon; I am also finally getting around to reading The Mists of Avalon and I love it
Music: Been digging Samaris recently, also “Lost Boys” by Still Corners has been my jam this summer and even though it came out awhile ago I can never get enough of iamamiwhoi’s Blue album
Movies: The Neon Demon on repeat; Teen Witch always; The Sisterhood of Night; White Bird in a Blizzard
TV: Marcella, The Ascent of Woman, Stranger Things, Penny Dreadful, The Night Of, and The Great British Baking Show
Etc: I am currently obsessed with the weekly Pele Report by Kaypacha. Everyone should watch it. He’s on YouTube, you can look it up.

Thanks again, Aubrey, for your time and generosity. And darling readers–don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway!

23 Comments on Interview & Giveaway with Aubrey Bramble, songstress, scenteur, and crystal-slinger.

  1. Alexandra
    September 16, 2016 at 10:17 am (7 months ago)

    Great interview! And quite fortunate timing because lately I’ve had a renewed obsession with scents and perfumes, especially in regards to magick and self-care. So thanks for this!

    Reply
  2. Ruth
    September 16, 2016 at 11:12 am (7 months ago)

    Oh, how wonderful. Thanks for the chance too :)

    Reply
  3. Jean
    September 16, 2016 at 11:30 am (7 months ago)

    Oh, this was lovely!

    Current obsessions would include all things poison apple-related (can you tell I’m ready for Halloween?), as well as a renewal of my love of writing and an obsession with reading anything I can get my hands on (favorite read this week is The Roanoke Girls, which comes out next year). Also obsessed with BPAL’a Art of the Unicorn line, because who doesn’t want to smell like a unicorn? And I finally watched the first episode of season six of American Horror Story, and I’m already IN LOVE. It’s like it was tailor-made for me.

    Also have fallen in love with my Lorraine Cross from Bloodmilk and Illamasqua’s Moth lipstick. Have been wearing both almost daily lately. <3

    Reply
    • S. Elizabeth
      September 16, 2016 at 11:40 am (7 months ago)

      I saw that photo of you wearing Moth and it looks amazing! And you know, for all the mutterings and whisperings I am hearing about AHS from people…it’s all so *vague*! I still don’t know what this season is even about. Maybe I should read a re-cap or something! (I can’t watch it until the end of the season because I have to be able to binge it!)

      I am waiting on my Unicorns to arrive! Have you smelled any of them yet?

      Reply
      • Jean
        September 17, 2016 at 9:48 am (7 months ago)

        This season of AHS was so vague, and many people are still thinking they’re trying to trick us with the theme. I don’t think so, though.

        And yes! I went a little crazy and got quite a few unicorns. Unicorn and Ram is my favorite, though, I think. Though all the ones I got are so. Good.

        Reply
  4. Pamela
    September 16, 2016 at 11:47 am (7 months ago)

    I always love trying new perfumes! I can’t decide which scent sounds more intriguing!
    The Red Room from the Twin Peaks Collection evokes my love for Twin Peaks, and what’s not to love about terror, shadows and doppelgängers? With The Morrigan from the Goddess Collection, I have worn Dragon’s blood for years and the mixture sound extraordinary. Thank you for such a wonderful giveaway.

    Reply
  5. lisabotany
    September 16, 2016 at 2:24 pm (7 months ago)

    The Twin Peaks line of scents is utterly intriguing! Like, seriously.

    Current obsessions: pojagi (Korean patchwork), spinning fiber into yarn, the book “Unexpected & Unusual: American Quilts Below the Radar” by Roderick Kiracofe, desert landscapes/aesthetic, plaid shirts, bad coffee, clashing colors/patterns, being myself without apology (so hard!).

    Reply
  6. Shana S.
    September 16, 2016 at 2:26 pm (7 months ago)

    Loved the interview….now off to stalk some new music! My obsessions as of late are handcrafting soaps and cleaning products with no chemicals, tarot cards, finding the perfect maroon polish for my nails, and making little altars everywhere. Oh and youtube videos of makeup and vintage hair.

    Reply
  7. Ally Katte
    September 16, 2016 at 3:57 pm (7 months ago)

    Super interesting! I adore perfumes, particularly indie oils.
    Current obsessions – cherry pepsi max (always), my cats, slime videos on instagram, spice scent, aussie comedy trio Aunty Donna and of course, the dark arts.

    Reply
  8. Kirsty
    September 16, 2016 at 5:15 pm (7 months ago)

    What a lovely interview, and what a darling woman! I’m off to check out some of her current obsessions now!

    Reply
    • Kirsty
      September 16, 2016 at 5:18 pm (7 months ago)

      Oh, and current obsessions for me are The Cure (highly unoriginal, but I get to see them in November!), my growing crystal collection and getting to grips with video editing.

      Reply
  9. Jena o
    September 18, 2016 at 3:59 am (7 months ago)

    Such a lovely post!

    Reply
  10. allison
    September 20, 2016 at 5:26 pm (7 months ago)

    what a fantastic interview and piece! i also found aubrey through sonya, who is a longtime friend of mine. i have been ogling her scents for quite some time! my current obsessions include vintage photo albums with crazy illustrations or patterns on them (because new ones are so boring), midcentury modern lamps, old perfume bottles, sound collages and sparkling water (haha)

    Reply
  11. Elizabeth
    September 22, 2016 at 10:49 pm (7 months ago)

    Oh wow, this is an incredible interview…reading it felt like I was reminiscing with an old friend that I grew up with, yet simultaneously discovering them anew & realizing that we’re still kindred spirits!! Thanks for this, & for the giveaway too <3

    A few of my current obsessions:

    Twin Peaks!! I'm re-watching the series & re-reading The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer (I also watched it when it originally aired, & read the book at the same time).

    The art of Tin Can Forest – In particular, their weird & wonderful illustrations for the book 'What is a Witch', which was written by Pam Grossman & released in May of this year.

    Flying ointments & incenses by Sarah Anne Lawless – It's getting to be that thin-veiled time of year, my favorite season for crossing the hedge & for communing with spirits!!

    Reply
  12. Eden Royce
    September 23, 2016 at 8:21 am (7 months ago)

    Such a great post! And what a wonderful interview!

    My current obsessions are horror written by women, especially pre-1800s. Rootwork and hoodoo spells. Finding scents that will last in my hair. Fountain pens. Making my own tea blends.

    Not always in that order.

    Reply
  13. tatiana
    September 23, 2016 at 9:08 am (7 months ago)

    love this interview! and the idea of a twin peaks scent collection. i want to watch it again. currently obsessed with sweaters (à la TP) as it is autumn and that means it’s time to whip out the rest of them from my cool-weather wardrobe box. also obsessed with my very first actually dark (almost-black) lipstick which i very recently procured! there’s gonna be lots of that this season…how badass would i feel with that on plus a fragrance that has notes of motor oil!?

    Reply
  14. Hannah
    September 23, 2016 at 12:36 pm (7 months ago)

    Currently obsessed with: trying to figure out if Angel is an ok scent for every single day, Rick & Morty, 90’s TV shows that so unapologetically appeal to dark irony-poisoned weirdos (Buffy, X-Files, Twin Peaks), Dragon Age.

    Reply
  15. Nicole
    September 23, 2016 at 1:18 pm (7 months ago)

    I don’t see people mention Tom Kenyon or The Magdalene Manuscript quite as often as I’d like! Lovely!

    Reply
  16. Jenae
    September 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm (7 months ago)

    Yay thanks for this awesome interview. I love Aubreys perfume and music. So inspired!

    Reply
  17. Carolee
    September 23, 2016 at 3:25 pm (7 months ago)

    I really admire Aubrey. She does all kinds of creative things at once to bring beauty into the world, all with grace and style, and somehow she also does all of them so well. I think she must be living proof of the power of intentional, connected-with-the-zazz-of-life magic!

    My current obsessions are all kind of seasonal because summer packed up and left so quickly this year. Apples. Recipes that include pumpkin. Trying to get my house painted before the rain sets in. Getting ready to start a new term in grad school. Looking for beauty everywhere, always. And revisiting old music from the nineties, inexplicably. I recently dug out my freaking Enya tapes.

    Thanks for offering the chance to try some new scents–see “looking for beauty,” :)

    Reply
  18. Annie
    September 23, 2016 at 8:11 pm (7 months ago)

    I’m really looking forward to Aubrey’s new album, it sounds fierce! Love all you do Aubrey, you’re a fascinating witchy woman!

    Reply

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