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Max Forti, John, and Mercedes Panzer Talk ‘Fumes & Tunes’

Apr 24, 2024 | Events, Scent Talks

Fumes & Tunes is a unique and exclusive event, curated by SCENTXPLORE in collaboration with REFINERY FRAGRANCES, that celebrates the harmonious fusion of scent and sound through intricate notes and accords. Max, John and Mercedes explain how this experience will connect attendees with a symphony of fragrances and melodies, aiming to create a multisensory journey through exclusively selected niche fragrance houses.


Max, staring with you, what led you to expand ScentXplore, a well-established fragrance event, into the realm of music with Fumes & Tunes? Can you share the story behind how this idea came to life?

I first met John Panzer back in 2022 at ScentXplore NYC. He came to the show and was happy with what he saw. For those unfamiliar, John is not only an avid fragrance collector like myself, but also a professional musician – he is Colton Dixon’s lead-guitar player. I am a fragrance collector and a musician by hobby, dabbling in guitar playing.

So, during his visit, we went out and, over dinner, John shared his intention of opening a niche perfume store in Nashville, TN. Fast forward to the following year, and he was back at ScentXplore, this time as a store, with his booth and all. At the event, we talked about hosting an activation in Nashville. Sharing a passion for both fragrances and music, we felt this would be a match made in heaven – thus the concept of ‘Fumes & Tunes’ was born, a name reflecting the link between these arts, both of which are deeply connected to memories and emotions through their notes and accords.

We are thrilled that this idea became a reality and excited to welcome everyone to the grand opening of the Refinery Fragrances store on May 3rd, followed by the Fumes & Tunes event on May 4th. Especially because this will be my first visit to Tennessee and Nashville, which makes it an even more exciting new experience for me. I can’t wait to meet everyone there!




Now, John and Mercedes, could you give us a glimpse into how Refinery Fragrances got its start in niche perfumery? And how did the collaboration with ScentXplore come about?

When I was younger, my parents always had fragrance in the house so I was introduced at a young age. Since then we have been collecting niche fragrances for the past 13 years and have dreamed of opening a niche perfumery for almost 6 years. We were able to meet Max at ScentXplore 2022 and we hit it off right away. Once Max knew that we were opening a niche perfumery in Nashville, the idea was born. We are so thrilled and honored to be apart of this event!




Max, are you as big a music aficionado as you are a fragrance aficionado? Share a bit about your favorite music genres and artists. Is there an artist who particularly inspires you or holds a special place in your heart?

Whoa, this is a loaded question – much like when people ask me what is the best fragrance ever made or what is my favorite fragrance ever. Of course, we all have our favorites and things that resonate with us more deeply, that are ‘closer to the heart’. I’d like to think that I am a music aficionado as much as I am with fragrance. Interestingly, my appreciation for both music and fragrance began around the tender age of 7.

So, let’s talk musicians and bands that have a special place in my heart, the ones that truly ignited the flame of my passion! Elvis, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, Queen (this goes back to when I developed a taste for music) and later on (Billy Joel, Elton John, Pink Floyd) – the usual suspects when it comes to classic/alternative rock bands.

In my late years, I have discovered Keane, a band I truly enjoy, and developed a taste for great guitar players such as Jimmy Page, Gary Moore, Joe Satriani, Slash, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Leslie West, Eric Johnson, Greg Howe, Robben Ford, and perhaps my all-time favorite would have to be Stevie Ray Vaughan, whom we tragically lost in a helicopter crash on August 27, 1990.

Overall, like fragrance, I’d like to think my musical tastes are eclectic and open-minded, with of course my all-time favorites…




John, as a musician, how do you see the connection between music and scent? And how did you first get interested in perfumery? Any memorable moments in your life that involve music and scent?

Oddly enough, my life revolves around both of these topics. So I have had a lot of time to see the parallels. There are too many to name, but the one that sticks out to me is the composition aspect. Perfumers are composers/producers in many ways. Bringing together components to work in harmony! As previously stated, my parents got me interested in perfumery but once I started making my own money and bought my first fragrance, that was when I fell down the rabbit hole. A memorable moment for me that involves both music and scent would be when I was on tour in Europe and we made a stop in Italy. While I was out exploring the city, I found a niche perfumery and purchased Oud for Greatness by Initio. I wore it for the show that evening and played a sold out concert to 15,000 people. Ever since then, Oud for Greatness takes me back to that moment in time. It was truly one of the best moments of my life and still hard to believe!




Max, who exactly is the target audience of Fumes & Tunes? Why should they attend? And how’s the response been so far?

The response has been outstanding and we’ve received invitations to host other activations within other parts of the country. As you know, the U.S. is a huge country, and opportunities are at a large when it comes to Niche Perfumery. I believe there are many untapped territories that would benefit from discovering niche perfumery, which offers a world of unencumbered and endless possibilities, with unique and exotic creations.

In terms of our target audience, we’re basically looking to expand the bandwidth of the niche world of perfumery as stated above. I truly believe we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to awareness…


FumestunesbrandsBrands to be featured at Fumes & Tunes


John and Mercedes, looking ahead, what do you guys hope Fumes & Tunes will be remembered for? What would make you feel like you’ve accomplished your mission?

We want Tunes & Fumes to be remembered for bringing people together that share in the passion of music and perfume. They are both powerful art forms on their own but I believe the combination of the two will be unforgettable. Nothing has been done like this in Nashville before! Which is almost hard to believe. Seeing all of these amazing niche brands represented at the event and giving people a chance to experience them is something we are looking forward to!

To all of you: What’s your favorite fragrance style? And if you were to compare it to a music genre, what would be the equivalent?

Max: That’s a great and fun question. I would have to say that Fougère is my favorite fragrance style I love me a good vetiver, lavender, oakmoss based scent. Within the genres, the woody-aromatic and spicy is what comes to mind. How it would relate to music, I would have to say classic rock and jazz comes to mind, which brings forth the timeless, classic and bold influences and elements that I appreciate in both music and fragrance.

Mercedes: My favorite fragrance style is musky, amber, floral. I think there’s something attractive and approachable about the combination. I would say a music genre comparison could be Lo-fi music. Relaxing, pleasant, and smooth.

John: I am a bit on the opposite spectrum with my tastes. If I had to choose, I would say Oud/Rose combos are my current favorite and because of the rich complexity of that genre it reminds me of my preffered music: METAL.




In 2 or 3 words, how would you define perfume? And music?

Max: Passion, memories, emotions.

Mercedes: Artistic, intelligence, elegance.

John: Emotional, powerful, inventive.






Follow Max @maxforti and Refinery Fragrances @refineryfragrances on Instagram.


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DANIEL BARROS is Brazilian, based in São Paulo, and the author of  ‘1001 Perfumes: The Guide’. He has been collaborating with ScentXplore since 2021, contributing to content production and management, as well as organizing the annual ScentXplore People’s Choice Niche Fragrance Awards. In addition to his editorial responsibilities, Daniel is actively involved in mentoring niche brands and fragrance enthusiasts all over the world. Click here to send him a private message or report an error. Follow Daniel on Instagram @danielbarros_1001perfumes.

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