An artist’s process is undoubtedly a highly personal one.
Whether it’s creating music or painting a portrait, acting as a fly on the wall to observe the way in which an artist is able to turn their inner thoughts and emotions into a creative piece feels equal parts intimate, fascinating and inspiring.
Now, condense that creative process down to just 72 hours while bringing together thirty of the world’s most talented up-and-coming musicians, visual creatives and storytellers from a variety of backgrounds, and you have the game-changing Converse All Stars program.
Ever since the brand’s inception, artists big and emerging have been rocking Converse as a symbol of independence and doing things differently; elevating the sneakers to a cultural icon synonymous with music.
In an event that solidified their dedication to providing mentorship and giving back to youth culture, Converse invited a collection of All Stars from all around the world with unique abilities and perspectives to come together in Sydney to collaborate and forge the ‘next’ in music.
By grouping creatives with different talents and cultural backgrounds tasked with creating five original tracks, paired with a visual expression of the sound, the result was a brand new approach to music that defied genres and broke away from the mediocrity of the dime-a-dozen musical offerings seen in today’s top 40.
Rolling Stone Australia went behind the scenes during the Converse All Stars program, where we observed the talented crop of artists, including young guns PANIA, Pricie and BOY SODA, as they collaborated and created music and art pieces in a short time frame while incorporating their respective unique experiences.
“It’s so much fun because everyone is just like excited to be here and there’s no egos in the room. Everyone’s here to have a great time and make beautiful art and connect with people that we would not normally cross paths with,” long-time All Star BOY SODA said of being part of the program.
“You make rapid, really strong friendships, which helps the creative process happen quite naturally because having very deep conversations talking about everyone’s past or traumas or experiences and you get to know each other very deeply, very quickly just from being in the creative process together,” he continued.
“More than anything, I’m just proud feel very grateful and privileged to be in this position at all.”
Despite the pressure-cooker situation, the All Stars remained laser-focused on the task at hand as they feverishly pulled together their collective talents to create audio and visual feasts for the eyes and ears.
Speaking to Rolling Stone as she worked on the final touches of her track, Melbourne R&B singer PANIA said she, too, was “incredibly grateful” for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity provided by Converse.
“It’s been sick to meet everyone from around the world,” PANIA said, adding, “I got to meet other musicians, vibe with them, and make genuine friendships so that I know when I travel, I’ll link up with people.
“It’s been a really amazing experience.”
Despite being thrown in the deep end with a tight turnaround alongside other artists, PANIA insisted she couldn’t have been happier to collaborate with a fresh face outside her own genre.
“We had to make a song in three hours,” she explained, adding, “I really lucky because Chloe (aka CHLOBOCOP) and I really vibed on the track and we have a really similar creative process.”
She continued, “Usually the writing process is really personal. So to be put in this space where there’s a bunch of people you don’t really know in the recording room and you have to write a whole song, it’s very vulnerable but it helped us push our boundaries which was great.”
PANIA added that while Converse had provided a welcome platform for emerging artists across the globe, it was their support of women across a male-dominated industry that meant the world to her.
“I think that, especially in Australia, it’s very, very male-dominated,” she mused.
“So to put a lot of female artists at the forefront, that was really, really important. And it’s something that needs to happen more, for sure.”
It was a sentiment shared by fellow All Star talent, Pricie, who told Rolling Stone that Converse’s elevation of artists with different backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences was a move to be applauded.
“It means everything. It means that I’m seen, I’m respected, I’m valued, I’m taken care of. It means the world to me, honestly,” Pricie explained of the opportunity.
“I want to exist in spaces that are reflective of the world I live in,” she continued. “When I’m surrounded by powerful women who are as creative or even more creative than myself, it empowers me to do more, to seek more, and to want more for my creative life.
“We need more spaces like this that represent the world we live in.”
Asked about the pressure of creating work that would be presented to one of her musical idols, the Nigerian-born, Melbourne-based triple threat seemed to take the challenge on with open arms.
“Converse is very good at pushing you out of your comfort zone in the best way possible,” she explained, adding, “If it were done in a chaotic way where you didn’t know these people, or there’s no clear perspective or direction we’d have an issue, but the way we’re doing it now really supports us to really think clearly and deeply about having a vision.
“Yes, we have to execute it quicker than normal, but I think it’s pushed us to become more driven and give ourselves a clearer vision.”
Following a jam-packed 72 hours and a few late nights fine-tuning their final products, the program culminated in a showcase overlooking picturesque South Coogee beach, during which the All Stars had the unique opportunity to share their work with Converse partner, Tyler, The Creator.
With each All Star having their chance to talk to the iconic artist one on one, emotions began to flow, along with a renewed sense of fire and determination among the All Stars to push their work to the limit and continue following their dreams – no matter what anyone else has to say.
“Seeing Tyler vibe out to my track really helped me to believe in my music and not to be shy about it and that it’s okay to be different,” Mexico-based singer GRTSCH said following the All Stars’ showcase.
Auckland-based All Star Jaycee Martinez agreed that the hip-hop heavyweight’s advice gave him a new perspective, adding, “I showed him the outfit I wore last night which I had never really worn before, and he told me, ‘Do not stop wearing this – this style is you.’
“It meant so much to me because where I’m from, a lot of people look down on me being different and to try put me in line because it’s not ‘normal’.
“But as Tyler told us, we need to live in the moment, we need to live out our dreams and be ourselves – because that’s what’s special and that’s what makes us unique.”