Love After Love Interview

June 24, 2020

Love After Love Interview

Rami Mekdachi, founder of Lola James Harper, answered the very thoughtful questions of our talented friend Jessie Comb, co-founder of Love After Love in Australia... A very mindful interview we really wanted to share with you...

 

MEET THE MAKER - RAMI MEKDACHI OF LOLA JAMES HARPER

by Jessie Combe

Rami Mekdachi is as eclectic, cool, grounded and imaginative as the fragrance brand he helms, Lola James Harper. Though just as Mekdachi is more than your average “Founder”, Lola James Harper is so much more than a brand. It is a collection or recollection. Of scents, of friends, of artists, memories and of family with Mekdachi the master collector and the conjurer. Following his nose through time, place and space, Mekdachi has conceived of a world where dreams, stories and memories are eternal. In chatting with Mekdachi, I was reminded of the Emily Dickinson poem, “Essential Oils are Wrung” in which Dickinson uses the perfumed oil, wrung from roses no longer in bloom, to describe the enduring nature of art long after the artist is gone.

Through Lola James Harper, Mekdachi has invited each of us into a world of enchanting memories and perfect encounters preserved. Yet, Rami is the first to admit that the capturing of these moments is not finite. Instead, his memories of a pre-war Beyrouth and of morning espresso after a game of Parisian street-basketball are merely the beginning, the match that lights the flame of our own desire to perfume the present…

Rami, tell us the story of Lola James Harper…Tell us the story of you! 

I was born in Beyrouth in 1971 in a family that was happy, joyful that loved music and gatherings. My Grandfather and my Grandmother were wise, elegant and always had peace and togetherness in mind, ahead of their time.. they raised my mother to be an educated strong generous woman... My father graduated at the American university in Beyrouth, clever, sharp man... we were living a nice life in a sunny wealthy country where you had the sea, the mountains, the city, culture, history and art all on one little territory... with 50 different cultures co-existing together... I really have amazing memories of that time where every souvenir is linked to scents and sounds... 

In '74 everything changed, war, in '75 we left to Paris for a few weeks to escape the worst...a few weeks turned into years and now I am a French man, with romantic memories of a long gone world... My mother and Father had to shift all their life and to adapt to a new culture, new norms and to raise a family with their own two hands with the rest of their family far away... Only love, friendship, joy, trust and good energy have brought our French life to light...

At 5 years old I understood that the world is more than we think, big, diverse, open and full of surprises... Music and Photography were my tools to catch time and places, emotions and feelings... perfume came later in my life in my 20’s and it was a revelation because it is even more linked to souvenirs and places than sound or image... it is linked to pure emotions... So I went along catching music, scents and images, seeing inspiring places and meeting inspiring people around the world til one point where I realised that I could gather them all in one project... all the scents, songs and photography to create a poetic world where anyone can come and dream along... a contemplative project that shares the beauty of what is open to interpretation... with not too many clues or information to give space to the viewer’s imagination and personal hopes and dreams...

How does story find resonance in your work? What does storytelling mean to you?

We are stories...we are dream machines... nothing is anything without a story to put it all together... the story you tell yourself creates your life... we do not believe in what we see, we do see what we believe in... what happens in front of our eyes is just a confirmation of what story we want to embrace... so yes I would rather tell a beautiful, peaceful, generous, loving story to design my life and my projects...

Who/what was your first great love? What does love look like to you?

Love is the only real energy... Love transforms anything in great energy... It opens gates and releases powers and dreams... my first loves were my Mother and Father and my family in Beyrouth.  Then music and my electric guitar in the 80’s, then photography, then my wife and now my son and daughter...They just elevated me to another level.

Lola James Harper is the place where I gather all I love now...Road trips are my latest love... just taking a car with my family, putting on good music, watching the world and it’s sceneries passing by our window ... it is really what I want to share in our movie WITH... the love of togetherness, encounters, music, travels, family and friendship ...

Family is at the absolute heart of what we do at Love After Love. Can you tell us a bit about how your family is involved in Lola James Harper and what it means to you to create alongside them?

Lola James Harper is a family... my daughter and son chose the name Lola James Harper and we tour the world with them and my wife to record songs, take pictures and bring back scents of places we love... My daughter sings in our Lola James Harper music albums and movies, My son plays the drums... Any person that’s part of Lola James Harper is like family: it’s been 19 years that we work with our wax master and his family, with our perfumer, our printer, our sound engineer... our two world ambassadors Courtenay and Pauline are friends before being partners... we wanna do “what we love with people we love” and not “what we should do with good experts”...

Rami, you are a true artist. Your creativity and sense of play is so deeply infused in the DNA of Lola James Harper and the brand embodies so much more than just fragrance. With your music, film-making, photography and art, it seems there’s no limit to your creative expression! Is there a common thread or interest that unites your projects? Do you have a favourite medium?

I just compose sounds, images, scents and words to let people open their imagination, open there senses and dream along... the common point is to always create a peaceful, joyful, colorful open world where anyone can breath and be open to what is simple and already there, free and easy to embrace yet amazing. There is always a romantic aspect in my work, some would say naïve I would say optimistic and simple... remember that we are the stories we believe in so I’d rather believe and share nice stories...

:-)

Each of the Lola James Harper fragrances, room sprays and candles are inspired by people or places that are important to you, acting like olfactory souvenirs. One of the many reasons that we are mad for fragrance is because of the ability for scent to transport us to other places and most importantly, to tell a story. When you create something new, where does that process begin? How do you even begin to capture a feeling through scent? 

A scent creation always begins with an emotion, an inspiring place or a wonderful moment... then I just use my nose to check what type of fragrances seems to float in the air at that moment and write them down to be able to reproduce with my perfume friend Benoit Lapouza in the perfume lab that scented souvenir...Everything begins with a real experience or encounter never just with a concept...

We love to imagine the places and people that you had in mind when creating each of your products but each person will inevitably relate these smells to their own people, places and memories made as well. Do you think about the conversation your products will have with their eventual owner? Are you attached to the life your products take on after they leave you? 

I am only interested by the conversation that people will have with Lola James Harper goods... All my work is just about opening the imagination and creating a place to dream using scents, sounds, words, tastes and images... I always try not to say too much but to say enough for anyone to be able to come and dream with us... that’s why you will never have a picture of one of our inspiring places that we translated in scents... that’s why I never tell when and where I took a picture... I take picture of places with old cars and no people just not to have any fashion that gives a clue about the decade... Dreams are personal matters I just give some elements to open the gate, some hints for people to imagine the life that goes with it...

During this period of enormous uncertainty in the world, where many of us are living in isolation or lockdown, we have found ourselves continually finding comfort through art. For us, it is words, it is cooking, it is scent, so really it is perhaps bigger than but also simpler than art, it is sensuality. A returning back to basics, to our senses. To what extent are you guided by your senses when creating? Who/what is bringing you comfort at this time?

Confinement can be understood as “don’t go out” or “enjoy your home and family”...  “stop all you already like” or “look for new stuff “... like a retreat... slowing down... cooking together... watching movies together... sleeping longer... drawing, reading, talking... with our new technology we can talk with friends around the world for hours and for free...

We all have so many things we never had enough time to do like watching holiday pictures, going through our old clothes, reading a pile of books that have been sitting there for years... tutorials on internet are infinite, to learn to relax, to breath, to cook, to draw, to play an instrument... infinite collections of music albums and movies and documentaries for free on the net ...

We are social animals we need togetherness we need to meet and share and enjoy with our senses and all together but once in a life time to have a pause of 2 months to experience another rhythm is also interesting... what i said to my kids when we began confinement is that,

“you can wake up everyday for the next 2 months checking all the things you can not do anymore and feeling bad not to keep your routine and usual activities or you can wake up every morning checking what you can discover that you would never had the chance to touch otherwise because of lack of time and a day to day hectic life”

We know how important travel is for you as inspiration. Where will you be turning for inspiration whilst travel is off the table?

Travel can be geographical or in our imagination... a book, a movie, a song, a picture, a talk is way enough to inspire me and make me travel ...

What can we expect to see next from Lola James Harper?

Our movie WITH telling a musical take about friendship, family, slow-life and togetherness will be released on all digital platforms this coming October and with it the original soundtrack with 25 yet un-released songs composed through the last 12 years.

We always like to ask our guests to leave us with the name of their favourite book or a favourite line from a poem or song. Could you share yours with us? 

I read when I was 18 years old and when I was 30 years old and 40 years old Siddhartha of Hermann Hesse... the story of many lives in one life of a man... each decade I understood it differently...It gives hope about life, creativity and unlimited adventures and accomplishments…

Discover Love After Love 

 

 



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