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Read Bjork's2001 interview with Juergen Teller from the index archives.

Kathleen Hanna discusses writing and making music in this interview from 2000 with Laurie Weeks.

Isabella Rossellini spoke with Peter Halley in this 1999 interview.

Check out our interview with Crispin Glover by Richard Kern from 2000.
Alexander McQueen's 2003 interview with Bjork.

Jacqui Millar, 1999


I don't think I'll shock anybody by saying that people in public relations are not generally the most, well, stimulating creatures to be around. That's why meeting Jacqui Millar, P.R directtorfor tomandandy, a multimedia music company - is such a lovely surprise. A South African emigre, Jacqui has easily settled into New York without losing her attitude-less good cheer and quirky sensibility.
Recently, Jacqui’s started to devote more of her talents to something of her own, as Idealogue — a futuristic collection of necklaces, bags, and soon clothes — kicks into high gear. Idealogue’s personal air filtration unit is just one example of how her idea of accesories might differ from yours or mine. But, in typical Jacqui fashion, she’s much more interested in putting things out in the world than in selling them. And if that weren’t reason enough to root for her, she’s just opened a space in Brooklyn for photographers and filmmakers who might otherwise not find a venue for their work. In the spirit of truth-in-advertising, it’s called SPR, for Self-Perpetuated Reality.
While some preach millennial gloom and doom, Jacqui already seems to be living rather contentedly in the future, enjoying the view and calmly reporting back to those of us not quite there yet.

Ariana: Tell me about this invitation here, to a “small digital gathering.” What makes it digital?
Well ... [laughs] We’re not even going to play music, we’ll play this software. I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s algorithms that just sort of mutate and you can interact with them. There’s this chaos pad with an X and Y axis that, based on the way you touch it, you can actually affect the music.
Jacqui: It was actually shareware off the Web. I’m not that adept in computer programming, but I saw it work. It just looks like ones and zeros at play.

Aruana: Where does that come from?
It was actually shareware off the Web. I'm not that adept in computer programming but I saw it work. It just looks like ones and zeros at play.

Ariana: What does it sound like? A heart beating or a steady drone?
It sounds good. It’s more sort of random chaos. And even if you loop it, it doesn’t become irritating, which is unusual.

Ariana: See, that’s the kind of thing I’m so unfamiliar with, but you make it sound easy.
Well, I think it helps that I work with a lot of men. I don’t know if that sounds sexist, but men have always grown up working and playing with things, and it’s a lot more accepted. So working in a studio with a bunch of guys, I’m always hijacking new technology. But I still don’t know what’s going on. I often think technology can do more than it does, and open up all sorts of new passageways.

Ariana: So having a novice or amateur perspective is more freeing in a way?
Ariana: “Get to work.”
Jacqui: The interesting side of being a PR person is being able to inspire. People become very specialized in their different fields, and don’t have time to look at the big picture. And when you’re in a position of inspiration and influence, you have this wider view and you can tap into all these different people who are usually unaware of each other.

Ariana: So that’s your official title at tomandandy — “Inspiration and Influence”

Ariana: It’s actually on your card. How funny.
I don’t have a background in PR. I mean, I studied marketing and advertising and economics, but I never did PR, and I was always a very shy person before I came to America.

Ariana: Really? I can't imagine that.
Jacqui: I thought you had to evolve to a certain level before you had the right to be not-shy. And I just thought I didn’t know anything about anything, so I kept really quiet.

Ariana: And then you discovered obnoxious Americans and realized that none of that matters.
You know, coming to America you have A, the possibility to do anything, and B, all this mediated reality. You expect it to be all these things you’ve seen. But when you get here there’s a whole process of demystification. And during that process, you have to reevaluate all your various systems and say, “Well, if it’s all not true and it’s all mediated reality, what do I want from it?” Then you can almost reinvent your personality and decide how you’re going to play a role in that world.

Ariana: How long ago did you move here?
At the end of ’93.

Ariana: Where in South Africa did you grow up?
Ariana: Causing trouble no doubt.
We used to go across this river, just before the sun went down when the tide was really low. But once you were on the other side it would rise, so it was like we’d isolated ourselves from the rest of the world. And no matter how loud the music was, or how late it was, nobody could get to you. They’d be on the other side with loudspeakers — “Hey you, put out the music!” So we had these parties where we’d make food and be out on the river and listen to Bauhaus.
But at the same time I’d always think, “I wish I was in America. [laughs] I wish I was in some club in New York.” Of course, when you get here you realize the importance of your childhood and that kind of freedom — which is exactly what I never thought I’d say.

Ariana: And now that you’ve been here a while ...
When you first get to New York, you want to be at all the parties, you want to be integrating with the social life that is New York, in order to do ... well, business probably more than pleasure. In the beginning, it’s such a hard thing to figure out. So it’s almost like an interactive game that you play to infiltrate these parties: “I’m so-and-so, and I know this person,” and your friends tell you that maybe if you call a certain number you can get in ...

Ariana: Soon enough you just get invited to everything.
Ariana: The challenge of it.
I think passive entertainment is almost over. Just to get invited to something and go in and be drinking and numbing your senses to the mediocrity that surrounds you every day ... That’s not happening any more. I think people want to engage, they want to interact and experience.

Ariana: I’ve felt like such a passive consumer lately. And it gets so boring.
Jacqui: That’s actually my whole image of Idealogue. It’s a commentary on the ritual of consumerism. It’s more about the buying moment than actually getting the product. And once you’ve got the product you suffer from post-purchase dissonance: “Should I have bought this product? Do I really need this product?”

Ariana: Right. “What is this going to do for me? Is it just going to take up space? Am I even going to use it? And if I do, will it be worthwhile?”
Then, of course, there are so many choices. I mean, when I was in South Africa I wanted so badly to buy sneakers, Nike or Adidas. And you couldn’t get them. But to this day I still haven’t bought a pair of sneakers, because I now can’t make a choice. There’s too many!

Ariana: Maybe once you make the choice, all the fun will be gone anyway. Why actually purchase when you can keep deciding?
Also eighty percent of purchases happen once you have something in your hand. Because it’s in your hands, you feel like this is personal, it’s almost yours.

Ariana: So now you’ve started Idealogue. Your product line is mostly accessories?
Yes. I have a partner as well — Mark Bromhead. He’s a writer and photographer, and he’s responsible more for the identity part of it — icon creation and that kind of stuff.

Ariana: And you do the product design?
Yes. But we both sit down and come up with ideas. I’ll take something in one context and sort of reevaluate its form and function by putting it in another context.

Ariana: For instance?
Jacqui: Well, this is an adult teething ring, an anti-stress-reliever. It’s a necklace that comes with instructions; you put it in water for twenty seconds and meld it to the shape of your teeth. It’s normally worn by rugby players or soccer players to protect their teeth.

Ariana: And what’s this?
It’s the personal air filtration unit.

Ariana: Wow. So you would wear this instead of a mask or something?
Well, it’s made for joggers and people who do sports who don’t want to breathe unpurified air. It’s very much a part of the antiseptic mood that we’re presently in. A lot of these products are about creating an identity. They aren’t necessarily practical products that we expect to sell millions of ...

Ariana: They’re almost anti-commercial.
Most people are going to ask, “How many have you sold?” I don’t care how much I’ve sold. Because this is more about actualizing something and putting it out into the world than about selling. The best thing is that even if it doesn’t sell, it’s still there, so it’s making some sort of commentary. I mean, that’s why I do other things, so that I don’t have to worry about how many units I’m going to sell. Although the tag line for Idealogue is “a fast-moving consumer good.”

Ariana: There’s also “Free deliverance.” I like the puns.
There are a lot of word associations and puns. These are our necklaces called “pipe dream.” They’re made out of plumbing equipment.

Ariana: Ooh, I like those. What does it say on the side?
It says “2001.” We were trying to make people creatively visualize the future, to sort of bypass any tragedy that Y2K may bring.

Ariana: Does that have any significance for you?
You know when you’ve done something wrong and you have to go stand in the corner and think about it? Y2K is almost like a time-out for the whole world. [laughs]

Ariana: Totally.
Or take a long look in the mirror and see what you’re doing with yourself. At the same time, it’s good to think about how alienated our society has become and the way we live our lives. Some stranger on a bike delivers your food. You don’t know your next-door neighbor, so he’s not going to give you any bread when there’s no food. And if you were going to barter for stuff, you don’t even know where anything comes from. It makes you think about how little community is going on right now.
Ariana: A lot of what you produce has a fantasy aspect to it. Where do you think that comes from?
Jacqui: Well, definitely South Africa. Everything is bigger there. Even insects. Spiders are massive. You’d find scorpions the size of your hand in the swimming pool. And, of course, African culture is very fantasy-based. There’s a love for telling stories, which are passed on through generations, and there’s all sorts of superstitions as well. You’ve got all this around you, all these levels of reality which certainly stay with you.

Ariana: I can imagine your products in a sci-fi movie. I loved The Matrix because it does alter your reality a little bit. You leave the theater wondering, “Is this real, will this become that?”
It’s funny that science fiction maps out the reality to follow. Those people are paving a pathway to new concepts. I mean, if you look at The Jetsons, they may be the biggest predictors of the century! [laughs] Because we’ve got all our cell phones and digital gadgets and digital dogs ... Do you know about the Sony Digital Dog? Have you seen that?

Ariana: No.
I fell in love with a digital dog. It’s just called Dog. [laughs] In fact, the digital dog may be at the digital gathering we’re planning.
Jacqui: I invited the guy with the digital dog, and when I was talking to him he said the dog was actually taking a digital dump on the pavement. He takes it for walks. [laughs] And it responds to you petting it — these green or red lights flash and the tail wags. You can put it on auto-pilot so even if you’re doing something else, the dog is still running around by itself. And it has motion detectors, so when you bounce a ball he actually sees it and chases after it.

Ariana: Oh, what a brain fuck! But is it sweet?
It’s very sweet.

Ariana: That’s so intense.
Jacqui: I
think technicians are the new gods. Like, it went from bands to DJs, and now it’s software. It’s who makes software. I’ve been noticing that technology companies — which are normally behind-the-scenes — when they have parties, you can’t get in because everybody wants to go.
Jacqui: To me that’s really strange. There have always been celebrity parties — have a celebrity and everything’s great. Now it’s like, “Okay, what’s the content at the party, and who makes these things, and how do they design them, and can you play with it and learn something from it?”

Ariana: So the computer geeks of old are the rock stars of today. I think tomandandy has certainly contributed to that shift ...
Jacqui: Well, in terms of music, they’ve definitely been a very nontraditional company. Electronic music has not been taken up by the mainstream and sales are pretty low, but electronic music is the first music that’s entered the popular mainstream through advertising. When you turn on the TV, every ad has the most high-tech drum ’n bass techno track to it. And it’s used for reasons that have nothing to do with the music. It’s kind of a blank area to insert different emotions, especially corporate emotions. That music doesn’t have the emotional baggage of, say, a Kurt Cobain. And the short attention span of our society definitely allows people to cut to it and get to the story very quickly.

Ariana: As tempting as it is to get into a theoretical conversation with you, can we talk about some other things you’re working on?
Ariana: Theory is product?
Yeah. I’ve been working with a company called Sputnik, and they literally sell theory as product. They take Polaroid snapshots of people and their ideas and then sell it as Thoughtware.

Ariana: What is that?
They take people from different fields — a science fiction writer, an architect, someone developing a new fabric — and do these very anti-methodical interviews with them, and put them together on video. So all sorts of themes are literally jumping out at you from different fields and perspectives. So you get this Polaroid view of people’s head space.

Ariana: And who buys these tapes?
Obviously, companies that are interested in new product development, but anyone can buy them — people like you and me.
Ariana: And what about the gallery you’re putting together?
SPR, which is me and Marisa, my roommate. It’s the space where we live, and it’s called SPR for “Self-Perpetuated Reality” — mainly because we couldn’t afford our rent, but we want to keep the space. Our little tag line is: “Action For the Optimistic Proletarian,” because so many people you meet are doing their own creative work but they also have day jobs, and no real platform for what they’re doing. So let’s say that we hear about someone who’s done a movie but they don’t have any options for presenting it. We want to offer our space to people like that.

Ariana: What’s your first show going to be?
It’s called “Visual Break Beats.” A photographer we know in London has been filming the drum ’n bass scene for the last five years. He thought what was going on was significant, and should be documented. But what’s really interesting is that because he shot analog and digital pictures, he was able to get graphic designers to “remix” them. So his pictures document that scene, but they’ve also been altered ...

Ariana: ... in the same way as the music itself.
Exactly. And I think of drum ’n bass as very non-ego-based music. So to let other people go in and remix his pictures really puts the ego aside as well. It’s the kind of work I really like because, for me, the cool thing about technology is that you can call a friend with a digital camera to come over and shoot something, and then you edit on his online system. Another friend does the music and designs the package, and the whole thing is kept in-house.

Ariana: You could even say it’s homemade.
Well, it is. So there’s your sense of community. Because I think that often your goal and motivation to move up in the world is to take the people you love and care about with you. And if technology can help you do that, all the better.


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