DREAM, BELIEVE, MAKE IT HAPPEN: An Interview with Agnez Mo

Words by Lisa Wayne









A distillation of global soul, pop, hip-hop and R&B, Indonesian singer-songwriter Agnez Mo, has created a unique sound that is taking the world by storm. With a loyal social following of over 35 million, the multi-platinum artist has already worked with industry giants, including Timbaland, T.I. and Danja and has collaborated with Chris Brown as well as rapper French Montana on the recent release of “Diamonds.” A breath of fresh air, Mo released her debut international album X in 2017, a 10-track project of genuine vibes and emotions that are nothing short of authentic. The artist is an advocate for peaceful living, communicating both love and compassion to fans and collaborating with well-known figures to declare The Peace Movement Declaration (The Oath of Love) in Jakarta, Indonesia. In addition, Mo is an anti-drug ambassador in Asia and serves as the ambassador of MTV Exit in fighting human trafficking.

BASIC: You wrote the script for the “Long as I Get Paid” music video. What is the story behind this dreamy project?

MO: It’s basically fantasy-meets-reality, where a guy had dreams about a girl, and then one day, she turns out to be real. She’s his fantasy and his reality. She’s been around him all of this time, but she finally allows him to “see” her, and invites him into her realm. I also wanted to infuse Indonesian culture into it. That’s why you see the dress and a little bit of Indonesian traditional dance.

BASIC: Your parents are both former athletes. How did you become a performer?

MO: I actually wanted to be an athlete. Both of my parents never forced me to do anything I didn’t want to do. When I was three, I loved singing, acting and dancing so much. My parents thought it was good to put me in these classes and I wanted to do that. I enjoyed it so much. They showed me how preparation is really important and that a strong work ethic is key. Those are going to make you successful and have longevity, not just the talent. Dedication, integrity, work ethic. Some people want the dream, but don’t want the work. I’m not those people.

BASIC: ANYE clothing is an extension of all of your talents, Why did you decide to launch this brand?

MO: Fashion is a huge part of me and my career. Japanese street fashion influenced me a lot, ever since I was 13 years old. It’s bold and colorful. That’s what resonates with me the most. It feels really organic to have my own fashion line. I styled most of my shows and even when I work with stylists, I’m super hands-on. I want to make sure that people can still see me, but my own version of me.

BASIC: You are an anti-drug ambassador, setting a positive example around the world for our generation of youth. Why did you decide to take this path?

MO: I just think that in this world where drugs, money, bling and fame are celebrated more than the good stuff, I need to take a stand. Without degrading other people, I want to make sure I use my platform for a good cause. Anti-drug ambassador is just one of many movements. I am also a huge believer of anti-bullying and sharing love and forgiveness. Those are my biggest campaigns.

BASIC: Your face is on an Indonesian postage stamp. Your country obviously loves you, but why all of the controversy? You appear to include Indonesia in your successes and you are highly patriotic!

MO: About controversy—you can’t avoid that—especially when you’re honest and real about who you are. You will find people who can’t handle that, but I don’t even want to focus on that because the reality is, more people will love me and embrace me, and those are the people I want to focus my energy on.

BASIC: With all of your touring and traveling, where do you feel that you actually belong? Where is your home?

MO: Home is wherever I am—wherever my heart is—especially when I’m surrounded by my closest friends and family. That’s where my home is. I’m closest to my brother and my mom. I think they’re my home and my music.

BASIC: Tell our readers what’s next. What are your top three things you’d like to accomplish in the new year?

MO: More albums/EPs, more music in general, more content, visual content (since I’m a visual artist) and touring.