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Julius Brian Siswojo: On his father, family, and loyalty

In honour of the man who raised a Hong Kong street legend

Hong Kong’s hustle culture is one that many live by on the daily, but few can say they embody it in the same way as Julius Brian Siswojo. To kickflip enthusiasts, he’s a street icon: having founded skateboard and streetwear shop 8Five2 and the game-changing skate park, Sk85ive2; to local hip hop connoisseurs, he’s been an OG of the city’s decades-burgeoning hip hop scene since his stint as Sir JBS: an instrumental piece of the pioneering, legendary hip hop group 24HERBS. To the Hong Kong public, he’s a man of many talents, from establishing the multi-joint barbershop Handsome Factory to becoming a rising star in the world of local cinema. Julius Brian Siswojo has become an indelible mainstay in the shared consciousness of Hong Kong pop culture.

Ahead of Father’s Day, we sat down with Brian to learn more about his Jakartan roots, his Hong Kong upbringing, and perhaps most significantly — the man, the myth, and the legend behind the Brian we know today.

FATHER’S DAY OFFERS

In celebration of the most important men in your life, enjoy the below offers from now until Sunday, June 18th

All fathers receive 50% off on cuts and services at Handsome Factory when coming in for a cut with their son.*

Receive Double Bonus Points upon purchase of HK$3,000 on menswear and accessories, and lifestyle items online.*

A MAN FOR HIS CHILDREN

“He decided to become a vegetarian probably 30 years ago, even though he only loved eating. He doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t drink, he loves eating — but he gave up food for his family.” The artist continued to share how his father’s vegetarian lifestyle also influenced him: “I’m not a vegetarian per se, but I’ve been a pescatarian for the last 7 years. I gave up beef for the last 12, 13 years. That’s kind of from my dad too.”

He’s a very loving person to his family, he loves his children the most and he gives his 110% to his children — that’s how I’d describe my dad.

LITTLE MOMENTS THAT MATTER

On recounting favourite memories shared with his father, the skater shared two that have stuck with him since childhood:

The first memory was a story of wild firsts: “I remember I was 8 or 9 years old, and he was riding a motorcycle back then. He took me to get a bicycle — my very first bicycle. And because he was riding a motorcycle, he couldn’t carry the bicycle and you know, put me on the ride and all that. So he was like, ‘Why don’t you just ride your bike and follow me back home?’ It wasn’t that far but then I was only like 8 or 9. It stuck in my head because I was thinking, ‘Oh, I’m a grown-up now! I know how to ride my bike by myself on the road, follow my dad back home’”

The second memory is about a small, mundane routine he shared with his father: “My dad always took me to a barbershop in Jakarta," and divulges that this little, daily-life custom with his dad was also one of the reasons that he had set up his barbershop, Handsoem Factory, and uniquely offers father-and-son cuts — an idea that he wholly credited to his wife, Annie.

WORDS TO SHARE WITH DAD

Image courtesy of Handsome Factory  

The dynamic Brian shares with mum versus the one he shares with dad is entirely different: “Traditional Chinese kid, Chinese family — we don’t really, like, talk. Me and my mum, we’re like cuddling, I’m hugging her, we’re holding hands. But me and my dad? We’re just stern, you know? He’s like, an OG Chinese-style dad: ‘it’s all inside’; never says ‘I love you’; when you’re talking on the phone and he never says ‘bye’ and just hangs up…” the hip hop legend elaborates, mirth and affection gleaming in his eyes. “But he’s a good person, he’s a great father.”

“I always tell him if there’s anything I want to say,” he says, as he ponders the words he most wants to share with dad. “I guess, ‘I love you’? I mean, It’s kind of weird in English. In Indonesian, ‘sayang’ means ‘love’, right? But even in Indonesian, I’ve never said that to my dad. It’s gonna make him go ‘What?!’”, Brian comically shares, putting on his best impression of dad. “He might throw up, I might throw up. But maybe I’m going to say it now,” he deliberates, half-jokingly. Then, in Bahasa Indonesian: “Teri makih sayang"

LESSONS ON FATHERHOOD

“So my dad is full of willpower, consistency, and lovingness,” the 24HERBS’ member thoughtfully thinks, as he mulls over the greatest lesson of all that had been imparted to him by his father. “But the most important thing as a father is to stay very loyal. That’s my life motto, pretty much. I don’t care how great you are as a man, or as a person, or whatever — How loyal a man is to his family should come first and foremost. To me, that’s how I look and see how great you are. So as a father, to all fathers: be as loyal as you can.”

STRIVING TO BE AN 11/10 SON

When asking the star about how he would rate himself : “An 11, man,” Brian deadpans, later bursting into laughter. “I’m a very obedient kid. But you know what? I’m probably an 8, to my dad.”

A surprising number to land on, but turns out it mostly stems from his passion for skateboarding. “When I started skateboarding, my dad disagreed with my skateboarding hobby. He said no. My mom was the one that was like, ‘You know what? Go, skate. I’ll support you. You want to buy a skateboard? I’ll chip in half for the skateboard. I’ll save money.’ So, my mom played a huge part. But even in spite of the occasional disagreement or two, there’s no doubt that the esteemed performer and trailblazer is nothing but the most dedicated, loving son.

A devoted father supporting a hustling son. A myth-turned-truth in unparalleled, familial dedication. A family legend of loyalty becoming the impetus of Brian’s never-ending grind.

Shop Father’s Day gift ideas for the most important man in your life below.

2023-06-01 00:05:00.0

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