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Agung Mango Is Creating Greatness, The World Needs To Recognise It

28 September 2022 | 4:04 pm | Parry Tritsiniotis

Agung Mango is no longer an up and comer, the greatness that he is not afraid to state in his name is now inevitable, it’s just a matter of time before everyone catches up.

(Image via Tom Lewis)

Agung Mango is one of Australian rap’s most prominent and underrated figures. His ethos is one defined by his artist name, two words that we constantly return to at every pivotal point of our conversation. Agung is his family name, a common Balinese name that translates to greatness or prominence. Mango reflects on his cornerstone personality trait that he is constantly moving forward and constantly on the go. He’s always quick to reflect on his personality and his identity, with his artistic vision and focus always 2 steps ahead of what the public notices about his art. Across his already wonderful discovery his career and trajectory is only truly beginning to bubble now acting as one of Australia’s most unique artists across genre, confidence and branding. 

Mango has already lived 1,000 lives, in his earlier interviews he often quotes how many jobs he’s completed to stay afloat as a creative as an artist, jobs that he is still grinding through to this day. For him, his day to day life is a means to an end, one that he reflects deeply on in his latest collaborative single GUAP POP alongside collaborator Genesis Owusu. It is the second single taken off his forthcoming EP, MAN ON THE GO, which releases on the 14th of October.

“I’m still going from job to job. I do odd jobs, I could never be at one of those jobs for months and months. I hate working, I hate putting time into something that won’t benefit me in ways where I can evolve my craft and my artistry. I hate working on stuff that is pointless to me. I can’t stay stagnant in one place and mindset, I hate that lifestyle and mindset. Maybe it’s because I’m from Bali and I’m laid back and it’s in my blood. When it comes to work I’m down with it, but when it’s pointless to get money fuck that. I have experienced a lot of random ass shit, I have the most random story. It plays into the reality that I am Mango, a man on the go. When you’re on go all the time you experience weird and obscure shit.”

GUAP POP expands on this. The track reflects on those long hours, working overtime, and overcoming the mental battles of sitting in rooms where you know that you don’t belong. GUAP POP is a sonic documentation of those troubles while also reflecting on them as a means to an end, a means that is defined by dedication and hunger that is required to thrive and survive as an artist genius. 

When asked whether having finite time to create and complete is his true path on this Earth, he responds begrudgingly and strongly. 

“From a person that changes all the time it’s so tough. If you ask any of my peers, they will know that even my studio glides across my house, from my bedroom to outside to my garage to my kitchen. I’m constantly changing, there’s not a month I’ll be the same. The only thing that stays the same is my haircut, it’s been the same for ages and I hate that.”

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Agung Mango made his name from a community of amazing Melbourne artists. Residing in and growing up in West Melbourne alongside a conglomerate of amazing emerging artists Agung Mango describes the area as a melting pot of community, culture and creativity. Music from the West sounds different, it has an edge, one that can’t be mimicked across the country. Whether directly collaborating with Melbourne’s West or not, Mango’s name came to prominence alongside a collective of artists who are equally as underrated. 

“Having the opportunity to have all of your closest mates amazing shit and having their own brand popping off is the best. To be a part of that and just to be on a song and be a part of that is so special. Even people like 1300 from Sydney, jumping on stage with them is so special. In Melbourne though being able to drive an hour down the road and doing their own shit with them coming up and at the same time it’s special. When you go to the shows you already know everyone there. There’s a good majority and an amazing cross section of people that we are reaching collectively but also we are spreading our respective music to different groups based on our niches.”

In his single RUNAWAY which features on his forthcoming EP, he reflects on travelling through “the great unknown” of the early stages of his career alongside his peers. “Time to carve the stone, I had sculpted it alone. Till I found some fellow makers that we’re running round the road / With no guidance, we got something all in common: it's the tone.” Agung Mango is great in the making and it’s easy to tell that he also agrees. 

“Everyone has their core fundamental support because we all support each other and we are bringing in new people to our friends shows in different scenes. Connection is everything.”

On Runaway he states that, “We made the skeleton in AIRBNB with Finbar Stuart, Eleftherios and Nikodimos in Apollo Bay. We made the song and it wasn’t really my favourite out of the bunch we made. A couple of weeks later I went to the Blue Mountains with Finbar. We literally changed the song completely, it got to the point we were mixing it then we kept rearranging it. It was such a scattered process, it really reflects who we are because we are so sporadic. It was a very smooth song at the start then we just felt it wasn’t feeling right. 

“We added the bass and made it sound fat as fuck. We had to call some homies to make sure it wasn’t too risky. I felt that because the song was making me slightly uncomfortable but it felt so right, that’s when you know you’ve got something. When it’s weird but hitting, that’s a good indication you’ve got something dope. Towards the end we just fucked it up and went chaotic. The idea of the EP was to represent duality. We were treating it as my first solo EP. This is Agung Mango, this is who he is. If you know me you know I swing on both sides of the spectrum. I can be smooth and I can definitely be the opposite. I needed to show that.”

Over the years, Mango’s music sticks out for its distinct musicality. Australia’s hip hop and R&B scene is still in its adolescence as new faces and voices take the genre to its next levels. Mango is propelling the artform further in a unique way, one that is not based in 8 bar loops or traditional song structures, rather one that is focussed on genre bending, with a focus on musical ensembles. His project Son Of Agung was made in collaboration with producer Nikodimos, and saw him turn to the world of mind melting jazz. His breakthrough single Little Bum melted the genres of rap and rock together perfectly, a N.E.R.D meets Western Melbourne combination that was to die for. 

“Those tracks came shortly after Son Of Agung, which was very musically based. Nick’s a fucking freak. After that I wanted to continue something that was more musical and less loopy. I wanted to make something that was gritty and full of attitude. I want to show people I’m full of attitude and personality. I wanted to show that aggression and reflect that I’m a wild dude. Deep down I’m a sweet guy like a Mango, but I can be as sour as a Mango as well. You know those green ripe ones, I can be sour like that. Being sour on record sounds sick. This EP coming out there’s some of that but it’s more smooth. I wanted to show that smooth side, then after that it’ll be wild chaotic stuff. That’s the vibe. In due time.”

With hip-hop and rap music getting so much attention and recognition, it’s hard to believe how slept on Agung Mango is. At this stage of his career, he’s had a few big nods from the likes of Genesis Owusu and supported JID, but much of the hype of the quickly expanding hip-hop space in Australia is extremely Sydney focussed. Artists as prolific as this deserve more, Australia just isn’t ready for it. When I ask him his view on being underrated he becomes frustrated, not for the commercial plaques or award show accolades, but as a peer and collaborator in the scene. 

“I hate being underrated. There are so many people that I would sound ridiculous with on music. There aren’t many people who have hit me up to collaborate and I want to do more of that. It might be because I’m at a point in my career where my music is so diverse and people don’t know the style of music I make or what I am as an artist. I was hoping that more people making a whole bunch of random shit would want to link up. I wish I was less underrated on an ability to collaborate and create with other sick artists. I got the talent, I’m here to prove what I’ve got. Fuck being underrated straight up.”

When recognising his talent, he’s eager to talk about how amazing he is at performing live. He’s about to take his MAN ON THE GO EP on tour across Australia kicking off in Sydney / Warrang this Friday night before heading to Ngunnawal / Canberra, Dharawal / Wollongong, Meanjin / Brisbane, Nipaluna / Hobart, Kaurna / Adelaide and Naarm / Melbourne. You can grab tickets HERE

“There’s great performers in Australia and I had the most amazing opportunity to perform with one of the greatest performers I’ve ever seen in Genesis Owusu. Seeing that and seeing my ability next to it made me realise I’m also an amazing performer. People need to put me on their tours. We’ll get there and I know that I’m great, but it can definitely be frustrating when I know I can connect to the right people. After all this shit though and this music coming out, hopefully it changes. I think my sound and my live presence is catered to festivals so that’s what I want.”

While it’s easy to say this from the perspective of not being an artist, the beauty of making timeless underrated music with a cult following is that patience in the release schedule is truly on the side of the artist. In an industry now that demands consistent content, single after single and pressure for a musician to be an influencer as much as an artist, making music that has no time barrier is a benefit. I assumed this was the case as with Agung Mango, as he’s now waited close to two years between projects. When queried on the musical hiatus the conversation took a turn and he described a series of events that led to deep learning and self discovery. 

“I’m going to tell you the truth because I was going through a mad rough patch in my life. I was going to go to rehab because of the pills I was taking and shit. I was heavy on the pills and pharmaceuticals and it was destroying my life. I’m an athlete, if I could play ball every day I would. If I could swim half a kilometre a day I would. Through that rough patch in my life it destroyed everything around me, my creative process, all my relationships with my homies. My friends were giving me interventions every month. It was bad. Other than that, what I learned from it was that I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. 

“I was distracted. Distractions are so real and it was a bad distraction that led to a bad habit. That bad habit led to addiction. That addiction led to so many bad things. I was rocking up to industry sessions fucked up. People thought I was drunk and I didn't even drink. It was disgusting, it was putrid who I was. It took me two years to realise who I was becoming and I had to switch it all. I was nearly 100kgs, and I’m a skinny guy. Coming out of that I lost nearly 15kgs just being back on the game. I neglected the game. I wasn’t practicing I was just getting fucked up and treating drugs like a daily activity. I switched up and I got my mind right.”

“I started focussing on my health much more which is such a priority for my clarity. I started training every day, no weights just calaesthetics and it helped me get my mind right. I swim and ball every day. It’s different now and my mindset creatively reflects that. People will realise, I swear to god. I nearly died off all the shit I was doing. Suicidal thoughts. I’m out of that and I know these next three years are going to be elite because I’m not going to stop. I can’t look back now.”

Agung Mango’s life changing experience has resulted in a focus and mindset that I have never been so swayed by. By this point in the conversation I finally realise that his mindset is the driving force behind is creative genius. This is a motivated, talented and amazing individual who against all odds has turned his mindset around to be an inspiring human being, one with a story to tell. As his mindset grew stronger and his focussed tightened he completed one of the strongest bodies of work to date in this country, his MAN ON THE GO EP. 

“I linked up with Finbar, and he is an incredible producer. Not just that he’s a total G. He’s a crazy vocal producer and he helped me so much with understanding vocal production. Me and him would just be chilling out and he would teach me how to sing and hit notes properly. I can sing to an extent until I actually learn how to sing, (which would be soon) but throughout the process of making these songs he would help tremendously with hitting the right notes, stacking my vocals and creating more quality music. 

“There’s so much quality there. When I was making this it was the most involved I’ve ever been. I felt like a student when I was making it. That’s what I’m all about, evolving as I’m making the music and always learning. When he was teaching me how to sing it evoked my love for R&B. R&B was my first passion, if I had never heard R&B i would never be rapping. To have someone to help me create these songs was amazing.”

Musically the project takes a much poppier turn from his bar heavy and raspy previous work. It’s filled with gorgeous bridges, sharp short verses and compelling hooks. It still has that classic Agung Mango feel, as harsh drums and massive synth sections lay perfectly below gorgeous ear catching melodies. It was a clear creative decision from Mango as he says, 

“I wanted this project to be poppier, showing people I was a student in how to make pop music. People are against pop it’s weird. I love that a bridge can win you over. I love that song structure, vocal production. I love the thought that goes into pop music and I wanted to implement that in my craft. 

“It makes this EP so important. It gives me the platform for my future projects for my songs to translate better into hits, with the confidence of making it still weird and still Mango. With my previous project Son Of Agung I wanted to do my jazz shit so I could express my weirdness. With this I wanted to understand pop structures and melodies and then showcase it. I want it to bridge age and demographic and just make people think this is a good song.”

“For my next project I’ll have acquired the knowledge on how to do the weird shit and also the pop shit. What is N.E.R.D? It’s pop, but Pharrell made his own anti-pop. That’s what I’m trying to do, that’s the vision. My next project is going to be elite."

MAN ON THE GO therefore acts as the perfect platform for Agung Mango to achieve the greatness he has always been destined for. He is no longer an up and comer, this greatness that he is not afraid to state in his name is now inevitable, it’s just a matter of time before everyone catches up.