Samantha Lo Answers the Famous Proust Questionnaire and More…
If you have read our previous profiles, you would be expecting a standard introduction of the interviewee. But I am choosing to take a different approach with Samantha Lo. Think of it like a writer’s note, in which I will be explaining to you my thoughts on why I decided to use the Proust Questionnaire. I first discovered the Proust Questionnaire in Vanity Fair, and they regularly feature answers by various cultural icons and public figures. Some that I found delightfully engaging and profound include the likes of David Bowie, Amy Poehler, and Donatella Versace. But what struck me the most was how 35 questions could reveal a person’s true nature and how their mind works. Most writers who profile people neglect the importance of asking the right questions. If you ask standard questions, you are going to get standard replies. When Sam agreed to be interviewed, I started doing extensive research on her. Most of the interviews talked about her work as ‘Sticker Lady’ and why she broke the law for a purely artistic form of expression. Although her reputation still remains, I want to expose a different side of her—one that focuses deeply on her essence, spirit, and soul. Unlike what you have read in the media, you are going to see and understand that what shines through is her vulnerability. All artists put themselves out there at the risk of being bruised and misunderstood, and the act of being vulnerable is often overlooked and trampled upon without any care. To me, Sam is the perfect candidate. A CEO of a public-listed company would be more averse to sharing their deepest and darkest thoughts, which can be perceived as a sign of weakness. There is a lot of strength in showing parts of you that isn’t shiny or flawless. And I hope Sam’s answers will allow you to connect with her on a more intimate level—and that includes the good, the bad and the ugly. I have always held onto the belief that my writing and interview process should constantly evolve in a way that engages readers, and featuring Sam gives me a chance to explore this new style with you.
WY-LENE YAP: What is your current state of mind?
SAMANTHA LO: I’m kinda focused on my future plans.
WY-LENE: What is your greatest fear?
WY-LENE: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
SAM: [laughs] Recklessness.
WY-LENE: What is the trait you most deplore in others?
WY-LENE: Which living person do you most admire?
SAM: Ummm… I don’t have one.
WY-LENE: What is your greatest extravagance?
SAM: I don’t really buy a lot of stuff or treat myself to anything. Maybe an expensive meal?
WY-LENE: My answer would be time because I value that the most in this world.
SAM: I lost time… 4 years of my life… but if you keep thinking that it is the greatest extravagance then what’s the point? Every day you are just going to be reminded of it, and it’s going to be harder to wake up. If I were to harp on how much time I have wasted, I am never going to relieve myself of the guilt.
WY-LENE: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
SAM: Experiencing humility—the ego death and that oneness with everything.
WY-LENE: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
SAM: I don’t know—everything is overrated.
WY-LENE: On what occasion do you lie?
SAM: When someone asks me: “Are you reaching soon?” And I tell them that I’m on my way.
WY-LENE: What do you most dislike about your appearance?
SAM: I’m quite happy with the way I look.
WY-LENE: Which living person do you most despise?
SAM: I can’t stand Trump right now. He’s a dick. It’s scary how much power and influence he has.
WY-LENE: What is the quality you most like in a man?
SAM: You know I’m gay, right?
WY-LENE: Yes, I know.
SAM: [laughs] Well, if the guy isn’t a dick, then I’m cool.
WY-LENE: What is the quality you most like in a woman?
WY-LENE: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
WY-LENE: What or who is the greatest love of your life?
SAM: My work.
WY-LENE: When and where were you happiest?
SAM: That’s a hard question. How does one gauge happiness?
WY-LENE: On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you?
WY-LENE: What would it take to get to a 10?
SAM: Having stability in my life.
WY-LENE: Which talent would you most like to have?
SAM: The ability to process things faster. Sometimes when people hurt me, I am unable to process my feelings on the spot, so I don’t say anything. But deep down, I know it is a bad feeling. It’s only after a period of time then I realised I should have said something.
WY-LENE: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
SAM: My ego.
WY-LENE: That’s a strong answer.
SAM: I recognise that my ego can protect me, but I need to recognise when it can destroy me, too.
WY-LENE: If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
SAM: As much as I understand the tough love stance, I wish I was shown how to handle my emotions properly and not react in an unhealthy manner.
WY-LENE: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
SAM: Overcoming all the psychological and emotional trauma for the past 4 years. It was a hell of a roller coaster.
WY-LENE: If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
SAM: A tree or a plant.
WY-LENE: Where would you most like to live?
SAM: At one time I wanted to live in London. To be honest, I haven’t been to a lot of countries and stayed there for extended periods of time to know if I would really like to live there.
WY-LENE: What is your most treasured possession?
SAM: I don’t have any attachments to anything. [laughs]
WY-LENE: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
SAM: You are making me go there… it’s a very dark place. It’s when every small voice tells you that feelings are transient, and there is this black dog that sits next to you and you can’t stop playing with that dog. It is really hard to break out of that space because you are so used to it.
WY-LENE: What is your favourite occupation?
SAM: I can’t say being an artist is my favourite occupation, it’s fun, but you really don’t have enough money to survive in Singapore. If I could make it work, I hope to contribute to society in a positive way and create concepts that showcase a different perspective. At the moment, I am trying to work towards that goal.
WY-LENE: I have respect for what you’re doing.
SAM: Actually, I am lucky—for the past 4 years, I have been surviving on a few commissions. And my shows have been sold out... but how long can I keep this up? So, that’s the reason why I just started a little creative studio. I really want to try and use what I’ve done in the past, and make them into solid concepts or projects. Hopefully, I can work with brands, too.
WY-LENE: What is your most marked characteristic?
SAM: My stubbornness.
WY-LENE: What do you most value in your friends?
SAM: Their support.
WY-LENE: Who are your favourite writers?
SAM: I didn’t use to read much. But I am intrigued by people like Kandinsky—he was an art theorist and Carl Jung.
WY-LENE: Who is your hero of fiction?
SAM: I don’t have one.
WY-LENE: Which historical figure do you most identify with?
SAM: It’s embarrassing but I really like John Lennon. When I listen to his music, I feel an immediate affinity to it.
WY-LENE: Who are your heroes in real life?
SAM: The everyday workers. I don’t know how a lot of people can go about their day, and be happy with what they’re doing even though it may be the most tiring job in the world. I really admire people who have that kind of determination… and are happy.
WY-LENE: What are your favourite names?
SAM: Greek names like Dionysius.
WY-LENE: What is it that you most dislike?
SAM: Deceit. I can’t stand lying.
WY-LENE: What is your greatest regret?
SAM: Not starting my creative studio earlier. I am starting to be kind to myself for all the time I have wasted. You know what, I’m ready now. Back then, I was complacent and ignorant—I thought I knew a lot, but something happened in the past 4 years that made me realise I was the smallest particle of sand. I experienced humility.
WY-LENE: What triggered that epiphany?
SAM: Meditation. I had a spiritual awakening.
WY-LENE: How would you like to die?
SAM: I would like to die a very peaceful death in my sleep.
WY-LENE: What is your motto?
SAM: Making sure I put 120% into everything I believe in.
WY-LENE: What is the first moment you remember in life?
SAM: Getting my head stuck in the railings. [laughs] I was a very curious kid, and I got into trouble a lot.
WY-LENE: Are you a romantic?
WY-LENE: What does love mean to you?
SAM: To me, love is a vague mass of energy, which can transcend many things. It is also one of the biggest mysteries.
WY-LENE: Which is harder to you: telling someone you love them or telling someone you don’t love them?
SAM: Telling someone I don’t love them.
WY-LENE: Would you break the law to save a loved one?
SAM: Yeah. [laughs] I broke the law just to say something… and to save a loved one is a bigger feat. I consider a loved one to be more important than anything.
WY-LENE: Currently, would you like yourself if you met you?
SAM: Yes, I think so. When I was younger, I was extremely different—I was a sheep and went with safe options. At the age of fifteen, someone asked me, “Ten years from now, what are you going to be? And I said I would probably be straight, and married with two kids… have a house and family... that kinda shit.
WY-LENE: You were straight at fifteen?
SAM: No, I wasn’t.
WY-LENE: Oh, but you saw yourself conforming to societal norms.
SAM: Yeah, I thought I would go down that route. I came from a convent school, and there were some people who weren’t straight. And they used to say: “It’s a phase.” Well, this phase ain’t going nowhere.
WY-LENE: When did you know that you liked women only?
SAM: In kindergarten, I saw boys like my brothers. As for girls, they were gentler and I liked that.
WY-LENE: What is something you used to strongly believe and now you don’t believe anymore?
SAM: Every time you have a conversation with someone about the sociopolitical nature of this country or the world, and you try and tell them that this situation is not right, they will respond by saying, “That’s the way it is.” I used to think that way, and now I can’t stand it. It’s so annoying.
WY-LENE: It is also very defeatist.
SAM: Yes. Are you acknowledging whether it is right or wrong? If you acknowledge that is wrong, do you plan to do anything about it? Fundamentally, people are afraid of change.
WY-LENE: I know you don’t like labels, but do you consider yourself an artist?
SAM: I see myself as a creator.
WY-LENE: Most of your work evokes a reaction. How much does the reaction matter to you?
SAM: Relevance is more important to me right now. Many people do things to evoke a reaction and I think that can be seen as shallow and contrived. I prefer to stay relevant and focus on being honest about my work—from there, you can decide how you want to react.
WY-LENE: You have always been good at controlling your messages. How do you deal with control in a country like Singapore?
SAM: I go around it.
WY-LENE: Doesn’t it get hard sometimes?
SAM: Yeah, of course. I wanted to close down a street once to throw a party and it took forever. I guess we need to be smart and patient if we want to make things happen.
WY-LENE: You are also quite the prankster. What is the best prank you have ever pulled off?
SAM: Trolling LTA.
WY-LENE: Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
SAM: They are both very important to me.
WY-LENE: Finally, when was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
SAM: Last night. It is a practice which I have been doing for a while.