The Jakarta Post
Agnes Monica isn't a follower or a cheerleader. The young R&B/soul singer has set an example as to how to have your talent and passion for music recognized internationally.
Her international debut single, 'Coke Bottle' featuring Timbaland and T.I ' released September last year and re-introduced with the premier of a music video in March ' topped music charts in the US.
Agnez Mo, the name she uses on the world stage, was included on the list of eight Asian entertainers to watch for in the US by The Huffington Post.
The music video was viewed over 1 million times in the first five days of its release and the song at one time became the hottest topic worldwide on Twitter.
Agnez's quirky fashion style in the video ' wearing in turn an outfit with short puffy bloomers; a revealing, modern kebaya; sweatpants and an unsubstantiated wardrobe malfunction ' contributed to the large number of clicks.
However, it was her music that brought her to be included as a wild card during the nominations for the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards as 'Best Southeast Asian Act', along with venerable Indonesian rockers NOAH.
It was the second time for Agnez to receive a nomination.
At the awards, presented on Nov. 9 in Glasgow, Ireland, Filipino Sarah Geronimo won with the most votes for the category.
After her nomination, Agnez said in a phone interview that the fact fans were given the power to vote itself was remarkable.
'Their votes mean a lot ['¦] in itself, it speaks honors for me,' said the 28-year-old, who lives in Jakarta and Los Angeles.
She was in LA to work on an album for Sony Music Entertainment, which has had its release date pushed back to early next year because of 'pleasant changes'.
Now an artist of the Wright Entertainment Group ' a management agency owned by Johnny Wright, who handles Justin Timberlake and Akon, among others ' Agnez worked on the album with some of the most renowned producers and songwriters in the industry.
The latest name on her list of collaborators is Da Internz, the US duo that produced Rihanna's 'Birthday Cake' and Nicki Minaj's 'Anaconda'.
'They were eager to work with me. My manager doesn't want to rush in anything so we're postponing [the album release] a little bit for some changes, which are actually good changes.
'I want the album to be the best of me. I want to make sure that the fans get to hear the best of me,' said Agnez.
Born in Jakarta on July 1, 1986, as the youngest of two to Ricky Muljoto, a former basketball player, and Jenny Siswono, a former table tennis player, Agnes started singing at 6.
Since then, she has won at least 83 awards for best albums, hosting children TV programs and her acting skill.
Her brother, Steve Muljoto, became her manager as she grew popular and was named the most bankable teenage artist. She played the main cast in several soap operas and even appeared in Taiwanese dramas.
After harvesting awards and recognition at home and overseas, Agnez thought about pursing an international career.
Her determination was reflected in the change of stage name from Nez to Agnez, in honing her English and modern dance skills and in chiseling her body.
Agnez, who always had a hand in music productions and stage performances, brushed critics off and saw her life slogan 'dream, believe and make it happen' used to inspire the recipients of the English ACCESS Microscholarship Program organized by the US Embassy in Jakarta in 2011. The following year, she gave opening and closing speeches at the UN Global Youth Forum.
Her international breakthrough was made when she was picked as an international red-carpet host for the American Music Awards in 2010 where she got a chance to perform a duet with Mexican actor-singer Christian Chavez.
A few months later she recorded a duet of 'Said I Loved You '¦ But I Lied' included in Michael Bolton's compilation album Gems: The Duets Album for Asia market.
As the most-influential Indonesian artist who made a name for herself in the US, for media at home said that Agnez was introducing Indonesian pop or I-pop with her 'Coke Bottle' song.
The reviews at the same time were both flattering and hilarious for Agnez, who refused categorization.
'My music is never the same. All this time, it's about Agnez growing in music - not about what the market wants. Music itself is an honest thing. I sing songs I believe in, lyrics I can relate to, the beat I can feel.
'I'm more into rhythm because as a child growing up in singing in church I listened to gospel music and it's very much influenced me musically.'
Although Agnez keeps private matters to herself, she always showed support through social media for her friends, such as Indonesian shuttler Greysia Polii and Korean actor-singer Choi Siwon.
Her relationships with the latter, however, sparked rumors of a romantic liaison.
'Oh. No. We're just friends,' she laughed. 'We'll see [if there would be a collaboration]. Right now I'm open to everything.'