What’s there not to like about John Carroll Kirby!? The multi instrumentalist, producer and purveyor of socal funk has long been the secret weapon for the likes of Norah Jones, Blood Orange, Bat for Lashes, Frank Ocean, Connan Mockasin, Kali Uchis, and Harry Styles, adding a touch of what some consider “Kirbyesque” nuances. In the past year he presented his own vision of jazz tinged piano compositions, restrained in its minimalism and collaborative in its vision on the masterful album My Garden.
Though the precursor, the haunting and meditative album Conflict, is what we are focusing on. Released in the earlier days of the pandemic this body of work presented a perfect soundscape to the morose sentiment of the beginning of lockdown. His version offered insight and self reflection in a way which lent to thoughts of wabi-sabi fundamentalism and the perfections of slow moving meditations.
With all this time spent to reflect, in came the decision to upend the conventions of merch. Taking on a collaborative project Kirby linked with close friend Josefina Valdés of the Mexico City based indie label Scent to create a collection of hand sourced stones that were polished and engraved with the albums track titles. The brand is part of a new wave of Mexico City based designers making unique and unconventional garments, Scent is highly sought after for their second layer body piece. In a way extending the song taken close to heart. We spoke with John Carroll Kirby and Scent’s Josefina Valdés on this union of creative spirits.
John Carroll Kirby
How did you guys meet it is such a wonderfully collaborative collection to mix the stones and track titles that are both so grounding.
John Carroll Kirby -Josefina and I met when i was on tour in Mexico City with Connan Mockasin, and stayed in touch since then!!! I was a fan of Josephina’s brand Scent, especially her second skin line as worn by Rihanna and Lil Miquela. I contributed music for her Scent Boveda 2020 show, and from there we decided to collaborate on some merch!
With this collaboration how did you go about deciding to use specifically the album Conflict? It was such a great piece of work to soundtrack the beginning of quarantine.
Josefina Valdés – I related with the Conflict album a lot because there is something so nostalgic about it, specially because this year has been extremely weird in so many ways and not precisely about happiness and for me this album has a lot of melancholy to it and goes incredibly well with the times we are living.
What was it like in translating the albums song titles into the wearable art?
Josefina Valdés – I listened to the songs and I envisioned a color palette, I felt this album contained a lot of brownish-goldish-orangey hues, not too much contrast just harmony between each color, then I started looking for the stones that contained this color palette.
How did you go about picking the specific stones that would be used for this selection?
Josefina Valdés – Stones were picked according to their colors and size, we needed something that gave us the space to carve on the songs, agate turned out to be the best material for what we wanted to express in color texture and shape. Agates worked so well because they contained the exact color palette I had in mind when listening to the album.
Was there a specific significance to the song titles that you chose, it felt like the symbolism is concentrated in the song.
Josefina Valdés – I’m obsessed with the whole album but these specific titles where so powerful against the agates, we used our favorite words to make them necklaces you could wear close to your heart.
Do you see the collaboration extending into other works John has created or other items customized in the Scent brand?
Josefina Valdés – I think it was a combination of both, but I had John’s aesthetic very present in the whole process, for me it easier to work with someone that has a very solid sense of identity as I see in everything John does, that gave me a strong base to start with and conjugate with Scent aesthetic as well, the result was very Scent and very John Carroll Kirby at the same time, we both related so well with the result.