Agnez Mo just dropped a super danceable album, and she has plenty more tricks up her sleeve. Here, Agnez tells us why it’s necessary to break the rules.
Agnez Mo is currently taking over the world, but if you’ve not heard her name yet, she’s okay with that. The singer is a pop sensation in her native country of Indonesia, but she debuted her first international album X in October along with some impressive music videos that racked up millions of views in mere hours. As Agnez tells us, this is just the beginning.
You have such a huge presence in Indonesia. With the release of X, was it like starting fresh here in the U.S.?
Yeah, it’s pretty interesting because when I walk to Indonesian places, restaurants or markets, in New York or LA, then it’s different. It’s like being back in my home country, where people [mob me.] But I appreciate that! I love when people love the album. Fans here feel closer to me now that I’m here, too.
It is a whole different territory. I don’t have to introduce myself in Indonesia, because they witnessed by journey. Here, I kind of have to do a recap of my 25-year career. I started when I was 6 years old, so it’s hard to make that story short! I’m glad that I get to share it with the world now, though.
Do you think there’s an intrinsic trust with the press here because of how dedicated your fans are?
Absolutely. But I think it’s so important to keep moving forward and pushing myself to be better, because that’s a responsibility that I have to do for everybody who believes in me.
You’ve debuted some awesome videos recently! Can you take us behind your process?
Whenever I record or write something in the video, I visualize it. I have a little music video inside my brain. That’s why I direct most of my videos, because the vision is there and I know who I want to work with.
Your visuals are pretty impressive.
Yes! The producer and some of the co-writers that I work with, choreographers, stylists, those who help make it happen are also my friends. The dancers, too; so our chemistry is dope. It looks more expensive than it actually is! [Laughs]
The outfits are just amazing.
Monica Rose is the stylist for the album cover and music videos! I’m all about thinking outside the box, and like to go outside my comfort zone. People say that Monica is more “Kardashian,” red carpet, LA-street style-like, but I saw something in her just as she saw something in me. I felt like, if I could put some Agnez Mo sprinkles on what she’s been doing — and at the same time she saw that potential in me — then we’re on to something. We share ideas all the time and we’re always honest about what we like, and I love working with her.
Will there be a tour for X?
Yes! It’s close to the holidays, so I don’t want to tour yet because I’ll be with my family and friends, but we want to do it after January. I have to say this, because otherwise everyone will go [screeches] “Oh my God, the tour is coming!” and I can’t promise an exact date, but the discussion is going to happen in January or February!
Works for me. Now, what’s going on with Afrojack? You guys were rumored to be collaborating…
Hopefully we can make it happen! He’s a friend now. When I landed in LA, we immediately flew out to Las Vegas to meet him. It was super chill and he’s sweet, so it was less like a business meeting and more like two friends hanging out and talking about music. Our genres are different, but that’s what’s going to make it interesting, how we can collaborate and make it work. He’s played me some records, and fingers crossed, the conversation will happen this month.
Who else is on your wishlist to work with?
Let’s mention the obvious first: DJ Khaled, JAY-Z and Cardi B. I love me some f*cking Cardi B. She’s super real. I’d love for Khaled or G-Eazy to [remix] “Damn I Love You.”
And Justin Timberlake! He’s the total package. With some music these days, people follow what’s hot or what’s trending, but we can depend on an artist like Justin because he’s true to what he believes in and he cares about his music. It’s refreshing to see someone who’s been succesful for so long to still have the urge and drive to make great music. It’s hard to be consistent and not follow the trend. I really respect him.
I think everyone would die if you two did a track together.
We do have the same manager! Shout out to Johnny Wright. It’s a matter of time, hopefully.
Switching gears a bit, what are your thoughts on being a role model for Asian girls — and young women everywhere?
I just represent people in general, especially women. In this society, I don’t believe that the double-standard happens only in Asia. It’s everywhere at any time, and it happens specifically to women.
Some people assume if you want to be a “lady” then you should behave this way, if you’re Asian, you need to put on a certain dress that looks feminine, and not color your hair blonde, or you need to have long hair. But I’ve decided to do whatever I feel like doing. As long as it’s positive, I do it. My hair is blonde as f*ck.
Still, when a woman speaks up about certain or sensitive issues, you get called a b*tch. If you know what you want and you have a specific goal in life, you’re called bossy. When guys do that, they’re ambitious businessmen; they’re loved.
I’ve been in the business so long that I’ve witnessed firsthand how the generation has changed, and thank God. Ten years ago, if you acted a little outside of what’s normal, you’d be called names or whatever.
Anyway, girls have always had to prove ourselves twice. We do double the work than what guys do. For me, it’s worse because I am from Asia! And the expectations from my fans in Asia and my fans here are a little different, but I don’t live my life to make everybody happy. I live my life to be true to myself and make myself better. Hopefully that can influence young women around the world. That’s my goal.
Anything else you want fans to know?
I guess I think people should know that every artist is a human being, too. [Pauses] Sometimes, people expect us to be perfect. The album has to be perfect, the outfit — I can’t wear the same shoes again, stuff like that — but I want people to realize that I’ve already accepted that my career is a journey and a process. Each album is going to represent the growth I’ve had, so not everything can be the same all the time. If I look different or my next album is, oh, chill R&B, then that’s where I am at that time. I want to make everyone happy, but I have to think about my own happiness, too. It’s how I’ve stayed in the business for so long — I make sure that whatever I do, I believe in.
Stay tuned for our exclusive video with Agnez.