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Agnez Mo is far more than an international superstar. She’s an artist and music-lover. Beyond the accolades, which include being the most awarded artist in Indonesia and even having her face on the country’s official stamps, the 31-year-old just loves creating feel-good music for her cult-like fanbase. It’s not everyday you see an artist with 19.1 million followers on Instagram, but that’s the least of her worries.
Growing up in Indonesia to former national athlete parents — mom was a top five national world rank table tennis player (national champion in Indonesia) and dad a national basketball player — Agnez never settled for anything but the best. While achieving awards for best actress, best album, best singer, album of the year — the list goes on — are fulfilling in itself, she was always taught to move on and conquer more. Her mother would tell her, “Okay cool you got that, but what’s the next thing? That’s what you earn from the hard work you did in the past. So, what will you do now?”
Agnez grew up singing in the church. That was the one thing that made her happy — and it happened organically. When asked how she got to where she is now, the singer simply replied, “Authenticity.” What keeps Agnez fans coming back for more is her realness, her honesty, her personality, and her energy. From acting to singing to directing her own visuals, the “Coke Bottle” artist has been catapulted to the forefront of pop culture.
The star describes her sound as “vibes and feelings,” which is exactly what you receive in her explosive new single with French Montana called “Diamonds.” This follows the success of “Overdose” featuring Chris Brown, and their visual reached over one million views on Youtube within 24 hours.
Take a look at REVOLT TV’s interview with Angez Mo below.
For those who don’t know, who is Agnez Mo?
I consider myself an artist. My agent he asked me a really interesting question: ‘Do you like touring or being in the studio?’ It felt like a trick question, but he promised it wasn’t. I said, ‘I love creating. I love creating moments and vibes on the stage and in the studio, performing for people, but I don’t particularly love the touring.’ He said, ‘Wow, you’re really an artist.’
I’m an artist, I like to create. Not for the glamorous life, the fans, or the applause. I feel content and satisfied when I can create something out of nothing. On top of that, I’m a visual artist. I like to create anything visually. That’s the reason why I’m super meticulous when it comes to anything that has to do with my visuals, whether it’s my cover art or music videos.
I immediately thought of your ‘Overdose’ visual. How’d you meet Chris Brown initially?
Of course, how all business is conducted nowadays…
Through Instagram DM?
Exactly (laughs). IG is like your business card nowadays. We’d been following each other for over three years. But, I was in Indonesia a lot, focused on my own shit. He had his own world. We crossed paths somehow and talked via DMs about our next projects. ‘How’s the music? Wanna play me some music?’ I said, ‘Of course.’ He has his own studio at his house, I went there with a homegirl from the management side. We were supposed to be there for an hour, but it didn’t stop.
I played almost every single song I’ve written, sung, recorded in my entire life. Then, he started playing me his new album Heartbreak on a Full Moon (it wasn’t released yet). He’s like, ‘You fuck with it?’ I said I liked everything, especially this, this, and that. We started talking about our artistry, our aspirations, really our art. I think he remembered me through my music videos. He’s like, ‘You’re literally the only person I know other than me directing their own music videos, that’s really dope.’ I started showing my music videos, he’s like ‘Omg, this is crazy.’ I’m such a visual artist and so is he.
We were there for four hours just talking about music. At the end, he said, ‘Do you want to jump on one of my records?’ But the next day, I had to fly out to Asia. I said, ‘I’ll be back in four days,’ he said, ‘Let’s record it in four days.’ Me being on the song ‘On Purpose’ for his album was really spontaneous. He was supposed to wrap up the album that week, that’s why he wanted me to record the next day. When I landed, I booked another studio because I wanted to focus. I had my vocal producer there, shout out to Jim Beanz. It was so fast. We hit it off as people, artist to artist. We ended up recording probably 11 or 12 songs. We actually have an album sitting — done, mixed and everything. But, we have to find the right time to put it out. ‘Overdose’ is just one of those records.
And it has what, 19 million views on Youtube alone?
When we decided to make a video, I asked Chris to direct it. He’s like, ‘No, I want to see you direct it!’ Like a challenge, so I made two treatments and he liked both. I’m like, ‘Yo, they need to be able to see the other side of us.’ Because people already saw the glamorous side of Agnez and Chris, but they didn’t really see us grounded, just as human beings. A few people were worried if he even wanted to wear those shrimping suits, it’s not him. But, Chris is chill. I’m like, ‘Relax, I’ll talk to Chris.’ He gets it. Chris was on time by the way, he was excited. Super easy to direct, it was so smooth.
Best memory from shooting the ‘Overdose’ visual?
Just the chemistry, I could see how much both of us wanted it to work. That’s what I respect from him because I see how much we could work, too. Being there, we merged into becoming the character. The whole beach scene just flowed. It wasn’t like, ‘You kiss me, I kiss you. Hug me.’ No, it’s hey, we’re just having a good time on the beach as a couple. The DP caught us in our moments, how fluid it went made it super special.
So you guys were a couple?
No (laughs). We’re cool. I care about him. At some point, we cared about each other more. I don’t want to say we were dating but in those few months, we cared about each other more than before.
You guys both have crazy fanbases. Talk about being the most awarded artist in Indonesia.
I didn’t even realize I held that title until my fans took a screenshot of my Wikipedia page dedicated only for my awards: Agnez Mo Awards list. They sent it to me via Twitter or Facebook because IG wasn’t even there. They’re like, ‘Do you remember all the awards you had?’ I’m like, ‘Of course.’ Then they showed me the list, I’m like, ‘Oh wow, I actually won that. I totally forgot.’ So, me and my US team flew to Indonesia. We have an office in Jakarta, but we went to my home office where there’s a shitty shelf in the corner with all my awards. Everyone’s like, ‘Agnez, why did you put all these awards in the corner?’ It was just there.
How does your fanbase in the states compare to your fanbase back home in Indonesia?
It’s interesting to see the different cultures. Listen, when I became an artist and became famous, social media wasn’t there. I wasn’t born big through social media. The way I became this influencer or public figure wasn’t through social media at all. I have different appreciation for really putting the effort in and actually going to places to talk to people, not just Googling things. At the same time, I had the privilege to experience both, taking the positives and learning the mistakes from both.
The most important thing is to be you and find your identity — not the identity people want you to be, but what you want to be. What makes my fans happy here and in Indonesia are completely different, sometimes they can contradict each other. It taught me how to not be swayed away by trying to make people happy. If you don’t fuck with one photo, fine. It’s me. I’m not here to make everyone happy. I just love my art, my music, have so much respect for artists and the amount of effort, and work you have to put in the artistry. I just want to do the best I can. It’s not about being liked.
How did ‘Diamonds’ with French Montana come about?
When I finished recording that, my label (300) and my team were on conference calls like, ‘There’s something missing.’ It was supposed to be just me, but it was calling for a feature. We debated on who needs to be there. I wanted it to have an international visibility because of who I am. Not just culture representation, but culture inclusivity.
How’d he do with the dance challenge?
Omg, it was so funny. One of my goals that night was to get him to dance to the actual choreography. But, I’m like, ‘Let’s not do that to him (chuckles).’ Of course, he showed off his blinged-out watch and everything. He’s super nice. What’s crazy is we actually did one record there that night. It was supposed to be a celebration, but he actually produced some tracks. We did something to the beat he produced.
What does ‘Diamonds’ mean to you?
Bongo and Ray are the producers, Derrick [Milano] wrote the song. To be honest, I really liked the vibe of the song. It made me feel good. The great thing about music, you can’t fuck with energy. You can’t fuck with feelings. Even if you don’t understand the language, no matter what race skin tone, body type; if you like the vibe, you like the vibe. It’s diamonds! Just fun music.
I changed the hook, added ad-libs and harmony to make it more sing-y instead of just rap. Has to have a singing part. When I was recording, I saw people with different skin tones, colors, body types rocking to this song. That was in my head. This isn’t just real diamonds, we are the diamonds. People are the diamonds. No matter what, your feelings have nothing to do with how you look. Honestly, I don’t fit into the stereotype of the genre of music people think I should be doing. ‘Oh, maybe I should do dance or pop,’ but I don’t do that and nobody can take that away from me.
You’ve been in the spotlight your whole life. Is there any part of fame you wish you could change?
People don’t realize how hard it is to not have the privilege of first impressions. You can totally do a makeover, a do-over in their life, change whatever, move to a new city and create a whole new identity. It’s possible for other people to do that. If it’s your past and you want to get away from it, you can do a re-do. But for an artist or public figure, there are times we’re being punished still even 20 years after doing the mistake. Thank God I don’t have that big of a mistake that follows me around because you know, Asian parents are so strict. We always try to be good.
Who I am now is completely different than me five years ago. A lot of people get caught like, ‘Oh wait, this is not you because the one I know wasn’t like this.’ But, I’m growing up. I’m not 11 years old, 17 years old anymore. Things change. People think it’s whatever, but they don’t realize how hard it is. Especially in Indonesia to go into a restaurant and people stop talking, look at you, already have their own perception of who I should be in their mind. You never know if people really fuck with you because they fuck with you, or if they just love the social media followers.
How do you stay grounded?
My family. They don’t see me as this diva or public figure. They look at me as a person and that’s how I treat other people. Ask anybody who’s worked with me. I always remember they’re a person with real feelings. People always told me, ‘Ag, you’re too nice, too accessible, too forgiving. You give too many benefits of the doubt.’ People take advantage of that, which I’m learning. It’s a good thing to have, but in this business when everybody always tries to take advantage of you, you have to be smart about it, too.
Being grounded, that’s from how my family treats me. Shit, I’d get whooped if I ever talked back. The best lesson from them is to give me my consequences and learn how to deal with that. I’m not entitled. That’s what keeps me grounded. I learned how to cope with my situation and deal with the consequences as an adult.
What are some goals for yourself at this point of your career?
Short-term, just have real ass people, man. Real good people in my team. I’m super picky when it comes to taking people in. I like it when I work with people who I really fuck with on a personal level because that’s when you know the sense of belonging and the intention behind every project. It’s not just, ‘He’s a dope photographer or she’s a dope artist,’ but, ‘Oh man, this is a family business right here.’ We’re trying to elevate to a new level and try to build this empire together.
I want to have a family one day for sure. I want to play in Madison Square Garden. I want my song to be on the Hot 100 and Top 10. Just keep creating and elevating. That’s it.