Today In Unusual Fragrance News: Smell Like Pizza, Will Oldham

With the holiday shopping season still in a frenzied state (Chanukah starts this weekend!), many companies are trying to launch those last-minute new products for the individual of particular or discriminating taste. Fragrances are usually a rather popular gift—that is, when they’re a normal floral or musky or refreshing and ocean-esque scent. But some people want a more, er, distinctive aroma about them. And for when no mere Acqua di Gio or Marc will cut it, there’s Pizza Hut perfume.

You heard me. Pizza Hut perfume. What started as ad agency Grip Limited making a joke on Pizza Hut Canada’s Facebook page became an actual thing that someone made. Turns out, some people legitimately wanted a real fragrance you can spray on your body or dab behind your ears that makes you smell like a pizza box just opening, with all those sweet, doughy aromas mingling before the first slice is devoured. The company made 100 limited-edition bottles of the stuff, which went quickly, so you won’t be able to pick one up for your pizza-obsessed someone this time around. But hey, maybe they’ll make more next year.

IF smelling like a greasy mélange of dough and cheese doesn’t sound like your jam, Will Oldham of Bonnie “Prince” Billy has a more, er, refined new scent on the market. The unisex Bonnie Billy will set you back $220 and apparently does not smell like whiskey and sadness and dive bar, but according to blogger Diane Pernet, who knows more about fragrances than most people, Bonnie Billy contains some of the oldest known scents in the art of perfume-making, including “the scent of the Agarwood tree” as well as “Egyptian jasmine, French mimosa and the rare, exotic oils of Mukhallat and kewda.” So, you know, no pizza. 

Linkage: ‘Bling Ring’ Detective’s Motives Question, Anonymous’s Social Music Platform

Has Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring compromised the still-pending case it’s based on? Coppola has taken the LAPD detective who cracked the case on as a technical adviser, and the defense is concerned that his financial involvement is of issue to their case. “Clearly, it presents a conflict of interest if someone’s investigation becomes oriented toward creating a story or entertainment," the attorney explains. "It’s certainly going to taint the investigation’s motives and make them look unprofessional.” [LAT]

A group of coders claiming to be a part of the hacktivist group Anonymous have built a social music platform called Anontune that streams songs from elsewhere on the internet, so that you can make playlists and share favorites and so that they can keep above the law. [CNN]

Justin Bieber bought himself a pretty new bike. [TMZ]

Always provocative, Bonnie "Prince" Billy is releasing a limited-edition batch of condoms for Saturday’s Record Store day. And ten other, more musical, Record Day exclusives to keep an eye out for. [Stereogum]

In celebration of the date, a list of your favorite writers’ favorite writers — when they are high. [Flavorwire]

After weeks of wavering, Lionsgate has chosen Water for Elephants director Francis Lawrence to direct the Hunger Games follow-up Catching Fire. May the odds, Francis, be ever in your favor. [THR]

Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Indie Folk Royalty

He’s the artist formerly known as Palace, Palace Brothers, Palace Songs and Palace Music, a series of monikers attached to a list of critically praised records released since 1993. Today, the much more widely acclaimed artist known as Bonnie “Prince” Billy (his real name: Will Oldham) assumes yet another identity in a New York hotel room, courtesy of a pair of spooky, deadening novelty contact lenses.

“The lenses make your entire eye appear solid black, like a shiny black marble. I’ve been popping them in so they don’t dry out,” says Oldham, searching intently around the room for a case to hold his recent purchase. When I suggest that the visage of a black-eyed, heavily bearded Oldham might be unsettling to the general public, he shrugs and says, “Well, you gotta keep things interesting.”

It’s an oddly fitting introduction to a man who is often regarded as one of America’s finest and most confounding songwriters. He’s one of the few non-major-label recording artists to have been covered by Johnny Cash. He’s also dueted with Björk, and starred in music videos with both Kanye West and R. Kelly. This spring, Oldham releases Beware, the sixth proper Bonnie “Prince” Billy studio album (not counting various live recordings and singles) and arguably his most forthright project to date. Even though he has a reputation as a reticent, media-shy contrarian, today Oldham is friendly, funny and seemingly happy to talk about the new record despite an admission five minutes into the interview that, “I do hate doing this stuff, you know.”

“This is probably the most premeditated record I’ve ever made,” says Oldham of Beware. While the record’s title might sound like an implied threat, its tone is more cautionary than aggressive. Even though the song titles alone suggest Oldham is plumbing familiar depths — “You Don’t Love Me,” “You Can’t Hurt Me Now,” “Beware Your Only Friend” — Beware is actually a rollicking and tentatively optimistic affair. With the same kind of warm, big-room production that imbued many of the great country albums of the 1970s — “I play with the same kind of guitar setup as Waylon Jennings and David Allan Coe,” he says — the album is a measured step forward for Oldham.

“I got an artists’ residency at this place in Sausalito, California. I could work all day, every day, by myself,” recalls Oldham. “I wrote all the songs for Beware while I was there. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a chance to work that way again, and I’ve certainly never had that before — time to completely focus with no distractions. I used to fantasize about being one of those people who can wake up and write music in the morning, but for me it’s hard to do. I find that the world starts fucking with you the minute you open your eyes.”

For someone long mislabeled as a kind of iconoclastic loner, Oldham has a genuine love of collaboration and a profoundly wicked sense of humor. His back catalog may conjure visions of a troubled troubadour, but he is as likely to be biking, spending time with his mom or listening to hip-hop as he is to be hanging out in the woods strumming on a guitar. “I get really frustrated by the lack of cross-pollination happening in music,” he says. “I know people typically associate me with country and Americana and folk music, but I don’t. It’s frustrating that people won’t allow you to feel the same — or justified — by enjoying wildly different kinds of things.”

When reminded of the notoriety he has cultivated after nearly two decades of releasing music, Oldham can only shrug. “When you are home and by yourself, all of that stuff — all of this stuff — doesn’t really exist,” he says. “Most of the time, I just assume that no one is listening to my music. That’s just my natural, go-to spot in my brain. I don’t think about the fact that I have fans or listeners. To know that all those records I’ve made continue to have a life out there is so, so, so nice. When we play shows and people actually come up and talk to me about the music… it can only be severely awesome.”

Photo by Simona Dalla Valle