A vegan activist, vocalist, music producer and formidable DJ of the Los Angeles music scene, Valida hosts late Monday nights on LA’s most eclectic radio station, KCRW, renowned for championing indie musicians. She’s also been curating her own weekly, live showcase of up-and-coming talent every Wednesday night at The Standard Hotel in West Hollywood for 9 years called Desert Nights. We caught up with her at the breathtaking Huntington Gardens in Pasadena to get her scent story:
What is the story of your earliest memory strongly associated with a particular smell or fragrance?
Probably roses and lilacs…I grew up in nature in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both my grandmothers tended to roses and would make rose syrups and jams. Every spring, lilacs would take over…It was my favorite season. The whole country would become one giant lilac bloom. When it comes to fragrances…as in packaged ones, I would have to say I was probably 4 or 5 years old. It was my mom’s facial cream. She used this really thick, blue cream that she used to import from Hungary. You couldn’t buy it in Yugoslavia (the country I was born in…it doesn’t exist anymore) and I remember she used to ask everyone who would visit Hungary to bring her some. When she would ritualistically lather herself at night, the whole bathroom would smell…It was pretty intoxicating and I was hooked on it…haha. Same with my Dad’s shaving cream. I remember sitting in the bathroom just to watch him shave. I would “help out” by sometimes taking the brush and putting it in the shaving cream and he’d let me put it on his face. It was so fun, and the cream smelled super fresh!
What is the story of your most profound or poignant experience associated with a fragrance?
It has to be the first time I smelled “Anaïs Anaïs” when I was 10 years old. A friend in middle school wore it and when I once came to visit her, it was in her bedroom’s vanity…At 10 she already had a vanity with all sorts of cool stuff (hair products, lip gloss, perfume…). At 10 years old I was still collecting post-cards and perfumed hello kitty erasers. I was a late bloomer.
Did either of your parents wear fragrances?
My dad wore a pretty potent after-shave called Pino Silvestre. I remember is because the bottle was shaped like a pine cone. My Mom believed in natural creams and oils until she discovered Chanel #5. Then it was game over for all the natural stuff.
Tell us about your signature scent, if you have one, or a favorite perfume and why it speaks to you.
I still love the smell of roses. I use rose-flavored skin care products, and also I use rose essential oils, diluted in a little bit of coconut butter as my perfume . And jasmine. I use natural, essential jasmine oils. Roses, Jasmine, gardenias [favorites are Zongle Organic Rose Geranium and Whole Foods Jasmine Absolute] …Also, I Iove the smell of pineapple…It is so sweet and reminds me of this lollipop I used to be hooked on back home growing up…
Why is fragrance important to the world?
I think I read somewhere that aromatherapy really works in calming one’s mind…and God knows we need that in this overstimulated world.
What new projects / endeavors are you working on or looking forward to starting?
I look forward to launching our first Pyramid Yoga Festival in Bosnia & Herzegovina this summer. It will be Bosnia’s first festival of its kind and I’m really excited that it’s taking place. There will be progressive music acts, all types of yoga workshops, plant-based foods and art…Will be three days of fun, relaxation and consciousness expansion. Also, I’m looking forward to making more tinted vegan lip balms…I started making them recently and they’ve been quite a hit…They are coconut oil and candelilla wax–based, and yes, I use rose, jasmine, frankincense and grapefruit essential oils for scent!