Widowspeak bass player Willy Muse moonlights as a chandler, or candle maker. When not on tour with the Brooklyn dream-pop rockers, Muse enjoys other outlets for creating, including his wax wonders. There’s even a signature Widowspeak candle that the band takes on the road with them to sell at shows. Intrigued by the multi-talented musicians sense of scent, I asked Muse a few questions to learn more about his luminous trade.
Sound Dessert: How did you get into candle making?
Willy Muse: My foray into slinging wax started a little more than a year ago when I was challenged by my sister to come up with a product to sell at our annual craft fair. I had a month or so to figure it out, and just dove in head first.
SD: What is your creative process like?
WM: When I’m not on the road playing music or in my house making candles I am a freelance fashion designer. I design anything from men’s sweaters to baby onesies for various companies, so combining all of my work together I am able to cover all senses except for taste (unless you are a pal who comes over for my cooking).
I am constantly bombarded from all sides in all senses, and my time is spent transforming those things into ideas and physical objects. I like candle making because I spend a lot of time with the labeling and how I present myself to customers (I have an outfit with seven different florals and a giant banner with my face illustrated on it).
SD: How do you choose the scents and the names for your candles?
WM: When I decided I was going to try this out, I spent a whole day coming up with names. I picked my favorite names, made the sample candles, and then matched them up like a game in Highlights magazine. Some of them were no-brainers, like Coffee being “Wake the F*ck Up!” and Spearmint Eucalyptus being “Namastay Out of My Room,” but some really came together after the fact – like Lavender, Cucumber, Chamomile, and Sage combined to become “Plan C – The Morning After Smell.”
I’m working on a holiday one right now that comes in a gold tin called “Gifts for Baby Jesus” with a Frankincense and Myrrh scent and funny portraits of the the wise men (especially Casper, the oh so controversial one).
SD: How many candles do you have on display in your home?
WM: There are probably 20 to 30 candles around the apartment in various stages of melting at any given time.
SD: What’s your ideal scent for the holiday season?
WM: My best seller is (and probably always will be) Wizard Semen. The label has an illustration of two penises wearing wizard hats with grey beards and I am constantly selling out of it (which reminds me I need to make more)! It is a wonderful blend of Nag Champa and Pine and most people (after getting over their fear of putting their noses so close to two cartoon dicks), admit that they assume that’s what whiz jizz would smell like!
SD: For a romantic night of “Netflix and Chill,” which type of candle do you have burning to set the scene?
WM: My friend Eddie likes to describe my candles as “situational” in that they have specific uses and functions and embracing this is part of the overall enjoyment of the product. For “Netflix and Chill” I would start by setting the mood with a Widowspeak tour candle. Once the “chill” is reached, I might fire up a Wizard Semen for a bit. Of course, in the morning, you reach for the Plan C. The description on my site says it the best: “The morning after smell – try to forget what happened – try to remember their name.”
SD: What’s the ideal burn time for a candle?
WM: My candles burn for around 15 hours which is pretty good. They are soy based so their melting point is very low (soy wax is what is usually used in massages and other waxy excursions), which means your candle actually turns into a little pot of smelly soup every time you burn it (which brings me to your next question)…
SD: Is there a special technique to lighting or blowing out the candles?
WM: Never blow out a soy candle by blowing into it! The wax will fly everywhere (including onto your face) and it will be a mess. A delightfully scented mess, but a mess none the less. I have done this so many times and am only now finally learning my lesson as I think I’ve permanently stained my kitchen counter.
The trick with ALL candles is to always trim your wick down as short as you can (be reasonable now) every time before you light it! Less fire = less heat = more burn time. The candle is not going to put out more scent if you have a larger flame – it will only burn faster and leave you wishing you hadn’t put it near your drapes. I make my candles in tins because you can just put the lid back on to snuff it out, which not only means no smoke but it also helps to keep all of that extra scent in for next time.
SD: If you could bestow anyone with one of your candles, who would it be?
WM: It would probably (definitely) be Prince and I would make him a giant custom one with a drawing of him on it and we would have so much fun taking turns dipping into it like a giant wax jacuzzi.
SD: Does the Widowspeak tour van smell really good thanks to your candles?
WM: It is undeniable that the presence of those candles in that van makes a great difference every time you open the back door! It’s extra funny whenever border patrol looks in the van confused, while I try to explain that “I’m a candle maker!!”
SD: What does Widowspeak’s essence smell like?
WM: The Widowspeak candle has a great combination of Sandalwood, Cedar, Eucalyptus, Patchouli, and Jasmine with a splash of Citrus. It reminds us of the Southwest and landscapes and memories and traveling from state to state!
SD: What does Widowspeak have in store for 2016?
WM: We just wrapped up a few months of touring the US and Europe and are excited to chill out for a minute. We haven’t confirmed anything for the new year yet but stay tuned as we are bound to be up to something!
Images via Willy Muse