Katy Perry on set of the Indi fragrance campaign.
"If you are wearing something that makes people talk to you, that is a good sign."
If you, like me, grew up at a time when knowing every word to every song featured on the The O.C. was practically a rite of passage, then you immediately associate the word "indie" with Seth Cohen. But that has nothing to do with Katy Perry's newest fragrance, Indi. "It doesn’t stand for hipsters, it stands for individual," explains the singer when I reach her on the phone. The deeply heady perfume (it features 11 different musks) is a departure from Perry's previous, more sweetly scented fragrances, as is the messaging behind it.
The campaign features five women Perry found on Instagram —curve model Felicity Hayward, attorney and influencer Blake Von D, artist Marilyn Rondón, musician Brianna Lance and transgender model Ren Spriggs — sharing stories of what makes them individuals. "It is amazing to be unique and have a different story to tell than another person. There shouldn’t be any judgement, there shouldn’t be any fear," says Perry. "It's more like, 'What can I learn from you, and your life and your culture, and how can we all share and make the planet better?' We [as a society] are realizing there are lots of different people, not just ones that share our ideas, on this planet."
Read more on what Perry had to say about Indi, her earliest fragrance memories, the lies we curate on Instagram and reaching the stage of life where you stop caring what anyone else thinks about you, below.
So I have the scent here in front of me, I am smelling it right now.
Oh awesome, what do you think?
It's such a departure from your other scents. It is so musky! I’m really into it.
Look, I’ve done the floral, I’ve done the gourmand, this one… I wanted it to be not so on the nose and a little bit more androgynous, a little bit more mysterious. I am a big fan of Black Orchid by Tom Ford and [scents] like that.
Right, yes. I get Tom Ford vibes for sure. When did you know that you wanted it to be musky?
I’ve gone through so many different phases in my product line from gardenia to vanilla — I mean there is definitely a little bit of vanilla in here to cut the musk —but it has been a few different things and I think the musk is really what I am into now, and matches what I am vibing with.
What came first then, the scent or the idea for the individuality message behind it?
It was definitely the scent first. I always like to pair a little bit of a message with a product if I can, and help people and encourage them. Then I feel like I am doing something better than just putting something out there into the world for people to consume, you know? I wanted to call on a bunch of other women to be in the ad campaign. There are five of them and they have different backgrounds, passions and stories that make them unique and they [share these] journeys in the commercial. I kind of was stalking them on Instagram; I find everything on Instagram now: photographers, makeup artists... that is the rolling resume. It's about celebrating different types of women, whether that is age, race or profession, or their background.
Katy Perry with the cast of the Indi campaign.
Was there a point in your personal journey where you became more acutely aware of who you are as an individual?
Yeah your thirties will show that to you! I think the longer you live life, the better you get at living it, and you start to realize that things aren’t as important as you once thought they were. Especially for me, in my twenties, I let a lot of things go and re-prioritized what is really important. That weird game that we all play on Instagram where we try to make our lives look so much better than they actually are, and all of the peer pressure to keep up with it. I have had friends be so strange and watch people "like" other accounts and they will have conversations about it saying, ‘I can’t believe that person liked that thing.’ And it’s like, are you kidding me? This is what we are talking about? This is how we are boiling down our self worth these days?
I think it is coming to terms with the fact that we are all different, no one is perfect. Perfection is boring, it is unattainable, it is not real, and I think there is so much beauty in that. I cut all my hair off so I didn’t have to hide behind all of it, so I could be as transparent and authentic as possible. I am re-learning what femininity is to me. I think everyone has to go through their 20s to understand that, but it is a beautiful thing once you embrace it. Finally I have had the courage to be like, 'Fuck it, I don’t care what anyone thinks.' As long as I am trying to elevate people and encourage them, then great.
What is your earliest fragrance memory?
My sister started wearing Clinique Happy, and then my first best friend — well, my second best friend, this girl that I was obsessed with that I wrote “I Kissed a Girl” about — she was obsessed with Fracas [by Robert Piguet]. It’s in a black bottle and gardenia based. It is timeless! I love a bold fragrance. I love Alien by Mugler. I love distinction, I love uniqueness, I love difference. I like starting a conversation by saying, “What is that smell?!” If you are wearing something that makes people talk to you, that is a good sign. It’s a good conversation starter.
Katy Perry Indi Eau de Parfum Spray ($58 for 50 mL), at Shoppers Drug Mart.