Meet the Converse Rated One Star anti-heroes

When we were younger, we were taught about the binaries of good and evil, light and dark, heroes and villains. The heroes are washed immaculate and always emerge triumphant against the ugly, evil villains. In books, movies, and even stories from our relatives we’ve heard the same story told in so many different ways, but always in the same formulaic structure.

But as we grow older we realize that it’s not always the same case of black cast against white, and that rules can, and will eventually be, broken. In popular culture the idea of an anti-hero—misfits, outcasts, or people generally going against the grain—have always been there, just not getting the recognition that they earned.

The Converse One Star, once a shoe designed for the court, has now found its place within the fringes of subcultures, is definitely an anti-hero. After being shelved only after a year before hitting stores, the Converse One Star has earned its place as the go-to shoe for people who refuse to go by the rules. Truth be told, a pair of One Stars are neither your uncle’s heirloom pair of sneakers nor part of your younger sibling’s Friday night get up; it’s found itself on ground covered by the hip-hop and punk scenes.

As we recognize the Converse One Star’s rise from an underdog to a world-celebrated shoe, we put the spotlight on four Filipino artists who are paving their own lane. Meet the Converse Philippines anti-heroes.

Jessica Yang, model, recording artist, and illustrator

Despite being a celebrated model for ten years, Jessica Yang’s face isn’t saturated to the point of ubiquity. Time and time again, she’s hit the perfect balance between striking a pose worth remembering and looking like a different person between each take. If you find the time to talk to her (don’t be too afraid to approach her), you’ll find that she’s so much more than the poses she makes; her personality is a testament against all clichés reserved towards people in the modeling industry. 

“Being One Star feels so much more than being “five star.” Being “five star” you work so hard to be whatever society wants you to be, but I don’t think you’re having fun compared to me.”

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been modeling for ten years. At first I didn’t want to be a model, I wanted to be a singer, which is why I make songs on the side.  But even until today I still don’t think I’m modelling. I don’t think I’m a model; I just see myself as playing around. I love art and I love music. I love colorful stuff.

Given that you’re a model, who are your style inspirations?

I don’t really have a style inspiration. It’s really up to my mood. Sometimes it’s up to the music I listen in the morning, sometimes it depends on how I want to play with my makeup. I don’t like being the same all the time. I’m not a trendy girl. I make my own style.

What do you feel about being part of the Rated One Star campaign?

For me One Star is perfect. It’s really like me. When I was a kid I was really “five star.” I was class president, I was the teacher’s pet, I was like the perfect girl with the perfect grades and I was also the oldest sister, my younger brother’s role model. I didn’t go out and I just stayed at home. When I was in high school I was prom queen but just because the teacher loved me. Not because I was popular, but because my teacher wanted me to win.

So one time my brother walked up to me and said “I feel bad for you, you’re not living your life.” So I did a lot of things I liked doing and it was a 180-degree change for me. I started modeling. I wasn’t really into the crazy lifestyle because I don’t really go out, but I explored more in terms of everything. I am not inside a box anymore. And then I found out that there’s more when you’re out. Being One Star feels so much more than being “five star.” Being “five star” you work so hard to be whatever society wants you to be, but I don’t think you’re having fun compared to me.

Rjay Ty, hip hop artist and entrepreneur

“As a teenager, I was one of the weird guys who just dressed the way they wanted to. “

A look at Rjay Ty’s career is a look into the subculture of Filipino hip hop, complete with it’s ups and downs and recent release from relative obscurity. There’s grit, there’s hustle, and there are also the moments of glory that he shares whenever he brings his artistry to the stage. True to the life of the grind reflected in the culture of hip hop, earning recognition and getting respect is definitely not always easy. Rjay makes it look beautiful, as if there’s a tune of redemption each time he takes the mic. You can see it in his face.

Tell us a little about yourself and about your process with what you do.

I would consider myself a recording artist. I’ve been working on music for the longest time, almost 12 years now, and it’s been a journey. Aside from making music, I’m also a partner for one of the local brands called UNSCHLD. I’m also an employee for this other brand called Progress.

Aside from my own individual music I also work with LDP and Bawal Clan. Also, and my girl, we have this one brand too but it’s focused on accessories, it’s called Free Spirit.

When it comes to making music, my whole thing is base everything on experience. It’s easier for me to write whenever there’s a beat ahead of me. That serves as somewhat a guide for me. It’s always better to have a beat so you can make sure everything fits in perfectly.

What’s your personal style?

As a teenager, I was one of the weird guys who just dressed the way they wanted to. I’ve had conflicts with my friends, parents…people who were around me who didn’t get me but eventually realized that this kid has his own little thing going. Little by little they understood.

What do you feel about being part of the Rated One Star campaign?

It’s an experience. [I’m excited] not just because of the people in it but the vision itself. That a company would believe in these artists’ personality and individuality is one thing. And it’s another thing too that all of these big names from other countries are put on…it’s crazy man.

Being a part of this campaign is an honor. I’m really humbled to be a part of what’s going on right now for Converse. It’s a perfect time too for the Philippines to be part of that. There’s a lot of talent out here–not just me, not just the four people in the campaign. It’s time for everyone else to see what we have going on out here.

Andre Drilon, artist

“I think I’ve come to terms that I thrive in chaos.”

Andre Drilon can get away with a lot of things, such as wearing a skirt in public, making a Dungeon and Dragons module by scratch, and answering questions before the question has been asked. He’s an interdisciplinary artist through and through, joie de vivre personified, given his tendency to move between interests at his whim without the semblance of weariness. Or is it a lack of fear? Donald Glover says that there’s an algorithm to living life, and that he’s hacked into it. Andre Drilon might just have the same idea.

Do you see yourself as an anti-hero?

Yes, because I don’t think I follow the norms. I tried for the sake of convenience. It’s just easier, but. . .for the longest time I thought following the norm was the easier path. I also simply don’t fit within the conventions. I understand that it’s functional to work within these conventions, but I don’t see myself as functional within these conventions. That’s why I’m trying to pave my own path. For me, it’s sort of a frontier.

You’re a multihyphenate. Where do you find yourself between the fields you work on?

I think I’ve come to terms that I thrive in chaos. For the longest time I’m trying to look for my rails. You’re always looking for something to sustain you, the one thing that you love. And I’ve been frustrated because for the longest time I had been bouncing from hobby to interest and that everything I abandoned I had felt so guilty for abandoning. Because it seemed like a waste. But now I realized that you can apply that to anything. My programming and 3d design, I can apply that to my photography. I can apply my love for gaming and sci fi literature to fashion. It’s interdisciplinary. I’m sort of finding balance in all this chaos.


How do you find balance in all this chaos?

You need discipline to thrive in this sort of condition, otherwise you’ll burn out in all this chaos. I think now, this year, coming out of school, I realized what I have to do. And that is to keep churning out content that I love and to not be so bogged down that one thing I’m supposed to do. It’s okay if next year I’m not interested in photography as long as I find something else to do. It’s okay if next year my sense of fashion is completely different. It’s okay if I finish and I guess abandon my game design. Because I learned something through it and I can adapt it to what I’m doing next year.

Jess Connelly, recording artist

Jess Connelly made waves in the music scene when she released her own brand of mood-driven R&B, but since then she’s been part of international festivals and hit song after hit song. Despite the recognition, she’s never one to rest on one’s laurels (she’s been credited as being her own songwriter, manager, promoter, and publicist). She’s posed to release her latest project this May which is “probably the most I’ll release in a long time”: sixteen tracks done with producers in the Philippines and beyond, as of its current edit. This isn’t the first you’ve heard of Jess Connelly, and this won’t be the last.

“F*** trends, I’ll just do whatever I want.”

How would you define your style?

Definitely comfortable. I will never sacrifice my comfort. Sometimes I’m in the mood to play around, when there’s an opportunity [like this shoot]. But usually I just go with whatever I can just throw on, walk out the door, and feel good and comfortable. I don’t give as much thought into [what I wear] nowadays. I’m learning how to build my wardrobe where it’s a “throw on and go, feel good what I’m wearing.”

What do you feel about being part of the Rated One Star campaign?

It’s an honor. Artists like Princess Nokia are people I look up to. I like artists who are in their own lane and just do their own thing.

Do you also consider yourself as an anti-hero? As someone who just does her own thing?

I definitely think that that is something I’ve been strong about from the beginning and something I wouldn’t change about myself. Now, I think it’s normal to think for yourself and not just fit into what society wants you to be. When I first moved here it wasn’t “normal” for girls to wear baggy clothing. Now I see girls not just wearing men’s clothes, but girls shaving their head or just doing whatever they want. So it’s like, f*** trends, I’ll just do whatever I want.

The Converse One Star Spring 2018 Collection is available at all Converse Stores.

Photography by Koji Arboleda
Styled by Florian Trinidad

Jessica Yang’s makeup by Chuchie Ledesma and hair by Jia Achacruz for The Visual Club
Rjay Ty and Andre Drilon’s grooming by Jia Achacruz for The Visual Club
Videos by Chino Villagracia The Visual Club

Interviews by Lex Celera
Produced by SCOUT