Snakerattler’s Dan Oliver Gott talks about developing his own candle brand, Room Spell

By April 15, 2022 News, York

S] Hey mate, how are you today?

Not bad thanks! Hope you are alright also.

S] How do you define success as an artist now?

Same as always really. I make art because I enjoy it and feel a compulsion to contribute to various disciplines, no matter the size of the contribution. As long as I can stand on my own two feet financially, I don’t really look for anything else. I’d much rather create things that I’m passionate about and get nowhere, than make something that I’m not into but I can easily sell!

S] What about as a person?

I’ve had the same personal philosophy since I was 16 – survive for as long as possible and have fun! As long as said fun does not harm anyone.

S] How is working on Room Spell different to your musical ventures?

In music, my ears do the work because I play totally by ear, but with Room Spell it’s my nose that does the work. I guess the only difference would literally be using different body parts and therefore different senses. The creative process is much the same – I try many different ideas until I find one that fits the vision.

S] How does it challenge you in new ways?

Because I am running Room Spell as an actual registered business, I really have to think about the numbers side of things. It’s a very low risk venture, and I’ve never been particularly motivated by money, but for the first time in my life I actually have to keep an eye on where my money goes! I was always the first person in line at the service station, to buy an overpriced Krispy Kreme, when on the road with a band. But now, I have to try and spend as little money as possible and only buy essential life items! It’s a total new way of thinking for me.

S] You’ve worked in the medical profession before, and as a touring musician, so why candles? 

Before covid, I was part time at York Hospital and part time on the road, sometimes racking up 3 gigs a week. We were gearing up to do Snakerattlers full-time; 2019 was our busiest year ever with a band. So when covid came along, the income from Snakerattlers gigs disappeared overnight.

I’ve got a ridiculous perfume collection which I’ve amassed over the years and for a long time have been obsessed with scented candles. Each room in my house has its own identity, which is something I think is very important in a home. For years, I was buying different scented candles, trying to find the right one for each room in my house. If you want good quality scents and candles that actually work properly, you need to spend quite a bit of money! So when the money from band stuff stopped coming in, I was forced to make some changes in order to keep paying the bills. One of those changes was trying to make my own scented candles, in order to try and save some money. I’ve always searched for scented candles that are very unusual, so naturally the candles I started to create had unusual scent profiles. Turns out, I’m pretty good at making scented candles! I have a sharp nose and a wild imagination. My wife Naomi suggested I should start selling them, so a concept was created and Room Spell was born!

S] What’s the process like for developing your products?

I like to create scented candles that are from the dark side of olfactory art. If you want a soft linen smell or something else utterly dull like that, then Room Spell is not for you! Each one of my blends walk a very fine line between absolutely disgusting and stunningly beautiful. I take inspiration from history, myths, legends and grim nature. I want to make products for people out there like me – who are always searching for a perfect scent, that is unusual and you can’t find anywhere else. I dare to be different and present works of olfactory art which are unapologetic, complex and challenging. They are not to everyone’s taste, but that’s art; it’s subjective. I like to set myself challenges such as “can I concoct a blood smell?” and so far I have not failed!

S] I love the animated videos on the site (for the scents), how did you enjoy creating them with Hot Frog?

Hot Frog Animations is absolutely crucial to the Room Spell narrative. In order to appreciate the complex aroma of each scent profile in full, the origin and story of the profile needs to be put across. Hot Frog Animations take my crazy ideas and make them into viewable, dream-like short stories. I arrange all of the audio (I even record my own voiceovers at DB6 Studios!) and “top and tail” the animations with other things, but the most important part of advertising a new scent, is the gorgeous black and white short story animation from Hot Frog. I have a great working relationship with them and I am sure it will continue for as long as Room Spell is a thing.

S] What has been the biggest challenge in pulling it all together?

Unfortunately, the challenges come from things that I can’t control. I work with independent oil suppliers, some of which stop selling oils that I need, or close their business for good. Each scent profile needs to be tested and signed off in a lab, to make sure I’m not creating toxic compounds when I mix oils. I use fragrance chemicals, as essential oils vary too much in quality. The lab work to sign the blends off as safe, is by far the most costly part of the process. So when an oil I use in a blend is no longer stocked by a company, or the company shuts down, I have to find something to replace the oil and then have the entire mixture checked again by the lab! A lot of scented candle makers avoid this part of the process, by using a single pre-mixed oil blend, which comes with it’s own safety data sheet. But for me, that just stifles creativity and removes the most fun part – mixing your own unique blends. I don’t want to make scented candles that smell similar to others out there, so I need to employ a lab to check all of my mixtures and provide me with the appropriate documentation.

S] What are your goals for the future?

I would love to get Room Spell to a financially self-sufficient place. After that, who knows?! I have designs to make more scented candle companies that have different themes and different methods, but I want to put all efforts into Room Spell for the time being, as in the grand scheme of things, it’s very early days. I tend to go with the flow in life and only do things that I enjoy. If I stop enjoying something, I simply stop doing it. I am in the process of setting up an alternative market in York, so I am hoping to turn that into a viable event. York really needs an alternative market that allows sellers such as myself to sell their wares without judgement. It will most likely start very small, but I intend to grow it over the next few years, until it becomes a known part of York’s creative calendar. Either way, it’s going to be interesting!

I have taken much inspiration from Advintageous and Leeds Festival of Gothica, who team up to put on alternative markets. I have recently done my first live market with those two companies and I am looking forward to many more market events with them! They are good people, and like me, want to see a place for alternative sellers/makers to hawk their goods!

S] What projects, markets and events would you like to plug?

YES – The very first Left Hand Bazaar, which is the market I am involved with organising in York. Upstairs at The Artful Dodger on the 7th of May, 11am til 4pm. If it all goes to plan, it’s going to be a cross between an art installation and an alternative market. We’ve got 7 sellers involved and also a palm reader! It’s well worth coming for a look at it, even if nobody buys anything. It’s going to be a living, breathing market experience!