Being John Biebel.


Kate Apted


Years ago I saw a quirky film called ‘Being John Malkovich’. It involved a portal to enable people to enter the mind of John Malkovich, the esteemed actor. Not being in the least arty myself, I am intrigued at how artists think, and such a literal portal would allow me to enter an artist’s mind. Kind of creepy an idea, I know, but it would be the closest I could get to producing art and the thought processes that occur in its production.

Of all the perfumers whose work I admire, it comes as no surprise to me that many are multi media artists. Teone Reinthal paints and works with video production, Andy Tauer draws and is involved in his entire image, and John Biebel works in IT and paints in a variety of styles.

John is the visionary of a brand called January Scent Project. He has produced 5 eau de parfums and 2 oils to date.

You may know of John from his Fragrantica articles and editorial contributions. I think it was through Ida Meister’s 2016 Fragrantica interview of John I first learned of John’s perfumes (link here). Smitten with Ida’s operatic writing style, I promptly ordered a sample set of John’s first three scents.

Ida and John

Ida Meister and John Biebel. Photo credit: Fragrantica.

The names of these scents give away the style of perfumery John has employed. Eiderantker, Smolderose and Selperniku are not of French provenance, in name and smell. They are decidedly modern, almost avant garde and come from John’s soul. Only someone like John could imagine such blends of notes and make them work. John has pushed the limits of what contemporary perfumery is capable of and I look forward to every scent he creates.


Photo credit: Fragrantica

I must admit I felt incredibly challenged by both Eiderantler and Selperniku. I spent a good week with each of them and studied every nuance like I do any building by Tadao Ando. Complexity abounds in each sniff, though I am reaching for a unified, simplified understanding I can grasp in one smell. John’s scents are not like that. From afar, one can determine they are JSP scents, but up close, each one brings a near sensory overload. A most welcome feature indeed, for JSP scents are not mundane in any way.

I find Selperniku a textural and sensory delight. In fact, all John’s scents are, but Selperniku is more so. It contains seemingly competitive notes, such as salt, tangy apricot, creamy butter and a host of things that should bump against each other in ways to repel, but they do not. I seek out the taste of the salt, I want to feel the sun kissed fuzzy skin of the apricots and I think of that rich butter melting between my fingers. Together, Selperniku has me come back for more; wanting to discover what else lies beneath.

Then there is the decadent, sensual, smoky Smolderose. Funnily, I love the scent more after I have worn it to bed and it lingers on my pillow case in the morning. My skin must amplify the smoke and the rose to make an alluring scent that is intensely boudoir. Not a high top note in sight, yet its bassy heft is complete.

John’s more recent release, Vaporocindro, is a light hearted play on crisp green notes, waxy lilac that reads violet, and florals. It flits around in a non linear way and catches notes in the same way the sun is reflected off shiny surfaces on a warm summer morning. This an aspect of John that took me by surprise; especially as his next release was a quiet, masculine, reflective scent.

Mr Biebel has me intrigued as to what lies inside his mind. If these cacophonous, contemplative, Jackson Pollckesque scents came from within, what more exists in that magnificent mind of his? It has to suffice that the closest I will get to experiencing what it is to be John Biebel is to smother myself in one of his perfumes and allow my own mind to wander where it will. Maybe that is the point to JSP? To have me want to discover what lies within me and concern myself less with others?

Have you tried any of John’s  January Scent Project perfumes? If so, what do you take from them? And what of the film, Being John Malkovich?

Til next time, droogies,

Kate xx

25 thoughts on “Being John Biebel.

  1. I have never tried any fragrances from January Scent Project but I have looked on his site from time to time. These days I am less about challenging and more about just wanting to smell good…so I reach for the easy peasy grab and go.
    I really enjoyed this review Kate and I am glad that you have found these fragrances so evocative.

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  2. My favorite is Smolderose. John is the best. My two year old rollerball of Smolderose accidentally broke and John generously sent me a replacement.

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      • Cameron is a good actress, pity that most directors only cast her to bring her looks to the table, not her acting. Have you seen Vanilla Sky (the remake)? She has a brief scene somewhere in the beginning of the film, and she totally steals the show. I guess it’s the curse of a Hollywood blonde (or brunette, for that matter) who has to prove once and again that she can be a serious dramatic actress. I’m pretty sure that Charlize Theron had to fight tooth and claw to be able to choose her best roles.

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      • A Kauffman weekend sounds like fun! Are you going to see the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? One of my biggest faves, – I have to say, I watched it way too many times. Also, Adaptation is great but it’s so much more ironic. I can still remember the firt time I saw it (20 y/o): WTF did I just watch? Oh boy, I made a 180 last year, – it really is a brilliant movie. (I’m such a movie buff, really can’t shut up about them!)

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  3. Late such a wonderful review of john’s work. I also am a fan and own all of his perfumes in the 30ml versions. My faves are selperniku and vaporocindro. Being john malkovich is a brilliant film, I have watched it numerous times.

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  4. Kate, what a terrific article! I love all of John’s fragrances, and his artwork makes me drool! I swear that one day I will have one of his paintings on my wall. And “Being John Malkovich” is one of my favorite films of all time! (As is “A Clockwork Orange.” Favorite line: “No time for the old in/out m’dear, just here to read the meter!”)😂
    So, from one droogie to another….. xoxo Robert H.


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