Australian-born, global streetwear brand Ksubi celebrated its milestone 23rd year recently, with hundreds of partygoers from Sydney’s fashion and music scenes packing out their KSTUDIO event headlined by Atlanta rap superstar JID fresh off the drop of his new album ‘The Forever Story.’

A packed line around the block long before doors opened ensured the hype was right for the Dreamville emcee supported by rising ANZ hip-hop talents Jess B and Agung Mango, both featuring as part of ‘KSUBI 23’ – a limited-edition premium capsule collection to mark the anniversary.

Born in Eora and now a global powerhouse in denim and streetwear, Ksubi is synonymous with pushing boundaries, hence the link-up with two local innovators. We caught up with them both to chat music, fashion, and challenging the status quo.

Ksubi 23 is all about creative rebellion; something both your art is clearly defined by. What’s your approach to creating, that means you get such a unique product?

AM: Creating a unique product involves bravery. You have to not care what others will think whilst creating. I believe to be rebellious towards your craft is to not obey the rules and regulations or go by the norms. We’re here to break those walls down and create freely.

JB: You can’t force realness. Having life experiences and then writing about them keeps the messages authentic and people relate to that. I try not to overthink things and just write about what I feel like in the moment. And if I don’t feel like it, I don’t try make it happen. I let the inspiration come to me. 

You’ve both had incredible recent collaborations. What this process like and what do you look for when collaborating with another creative? Who would be your dream collab (music)?

AM: I made the song (GUAP POP) a while back on my ones in my garage. It went through many stages – first Swell on production, then Nikodimos, then Finbar. So really it was a mixture of the three versions/stages that stuck with the final product. Handing it off to Genesis was the easiest move throughout the whole process haha, he’s a beast. He sent what is easily one of my favourite verses of the year. I guess I’m really just looking for like-minded creatives who are pushing boundaries too. My dream collab would be with Gorillaz. I think we’d make something I’ve been waiting for since I was a young kid. Something for the ages. 

JB: I look for alignment in vision ! It’s been dope to collaborate with a brand that I genuinely think is dope, as well as the people who work at Ksubi. They get it. Ksubi represents a different way of doing things. The youth culture want to see themselves in the brands they align with, which I think Ksubi has done really well. The rest falls into place organically. And my dream collab? Kehlani.

In such a saturated market your art and presence is a breath of fresh air: How did Agung Mango come about and who / what are your key creative influences?

Agung Mango came about during high school. I had a concept in mind around year 10 and really started to hone in on those ideas shortly after school. Mango, which represents the man on the go, has always been my motive in life. It’s to keep going and to continue to grow. Agung represents my family and where I’m from in Bali. It’s a name we hold dearly to our chest, coming from a royal background. The Agung name itself is everything. My key growing up were Wycleaf Jean, Lil Wayne & Akon.

And Jess, while still young, you’re a bit of an OG (pardon the pun) of the NZ hip-hop scene; What are some of the changes you’ve seen in this time that you’re proud of? 

To be honest, I don’t really consider myself an OG at all haha. There’s been lots of people before me who I’ve looked up to in the hip-hop scene in NZ, lots of them are still around. Since I’ve been around though it’s been really cool to see the Black community start to become more visible in the music scene. It’s an exciting time. 

“Fashion, music, counter-culture; those things all allow for expression that doesn’t necessarily fit in with the status-quo. They are avenues for connection, collaboration and being seen or understood. No matter who you are, there’s artists out there who have stories people can relate to. That’s important.”

Jess B

It’s been a massive couple of years for you both. What’s the next 12 months got in store for each of you?

AM: During the next 12 months I’ll be working on my next project. Hopefully it’s out within 7-8 months. But within those 8 months, I’ll be working tirelessly on this project that will consist of me expressing a new sound that I’ve been developing behind the scenes – all produced and written by me. This will be a special one for my catalogue! Next week, I start the project in Bali, and I’ll be gathering a whole heap of talented musicians from all around the island.

JB: Life happens, even when things are going well career-wise. I’ve faced plenty of hardships in my personal life that I have had to navigate while continuing to show up for my music career. But… debut album 2023! 

Photos courtesy of Ksubi. Taken by Jared Leibowitz.

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