Toronto Star Feature - Jan 21st, 2023

Hearing the sounds of inspiration

Combining passions of music, candles was a matter of uncommon scents

"Music has always been part of me," says Deon Toban, who immerses herself in song at home and away. So buying a stereo system 12 years ago was a big deal. Since then, it's come to light up her life.

The tunes she listened to provided a flash of inspiration some years later and now illuminate her working life.

Toban was in her mid-20s when she got the music system.

"I was still living at home and it was something that would be just my own, so I was excited about it," she recalls.

"I didn't do a lot of research, because I bought it in store during a sale," she says. "Once I had heard the volume level and was comfortable with the price, I made the purchase."

A dozen years on, the compact Sony stereo and attached speakers sit on her living room console, radiating the emotive sounds of R&B, soul and gospel of her iPod and CDs. The music fills her living space. "It really fits the way I live, like it's coming out of headphones," says Toban, who likes to wear these when she leaves her Oshawa condo.

She remembers grooving on Boy II Men, Anita Baker and Al Green on her first Walkman in her mid teens. "It's the quickest way to give me an escape, whether for good or bad reasons. It transports me to happy memories and feelings."

Music's cathartic, healing powers are well known, especially as an antidote to the winter blues.

It is not only a constant companion that lifts Toban up, but it inspired her to create a business venture, one that marries song with her other passion, candles.

Her typical Saturday evening involves lighting richly scented candles while enjoying a glass of wine and listening to her favourite artists. 

One evening, she had a life-altering experience.

"I was looking at the flames of the candles and thought of matching them to the beat of Musiq Soulchild that was playing," she recalls.

"A flame never stays still. It dances and moves."

She started hearing songs in her head that would pair well with the kiwi-scented candles. Out of this, her home-based business, Noire Glow, was born.

Through her solo venture, Toban, a former professional in the corporate world, creates collections of differently scented, soy wax candles, and room and linen sprays, which she sells online.

The curated playlists that match them are available on Spotify and Apple Music.

When she does pairings, she does a "burn test" to make sure she has the right melody "to resonate with the aroma," she notes.

One collection, called "Cuddle Mood," popular for Valentine's Day, matches scents of vanilla, sandalwood and patchouli with songs such as Usher's "Lifetime," Hozier's "From Eden" and Tanerelle's "Nothing Without You."

In aromatherapy, vanilla is believed to sooth frazzled nerves, evoke calmness and elevate mood. Sandalwood's benefits are said to include relaxation and positive thinking, and patchouli essential oil acts as a natural air freshener to create a relaxing atmosphere.

Toban says Noire Glow's pairings of music and fragrance are a reminder "to let yourself glow and not let your light go out." She notes that the pandemic sometimes had the effect of diminishing people's energy and spirit.

Music has been a powerful motivator for her, and it's time for those whose "flames have been put down to tell others you're still there."

Article written by Carola Vyhnak.