Music

Sing when you're winning

When he’s not busy leading the rebirth of the UK garage scene, Conducta indulges his passion for retro football shirts

WORDS Tayler Willson | PHOTOGRAPHY João Castellano

In recent years, football and music have been linking up like Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright in their pomp. Musicians across the globe wear the shirts of clubs big and small; in some cases it’s because they support the team but, more often, it’s because said shirt has some sort of cachet as a result of being particularly rare or stylish.

One man who has been at the forefront of the football-as-fashion movement is the Bristol-born, London-based garage DJ Collins Nemi. He also happens to be very talented: the 25-year-old Arsenal fan, better known by his stage name Conducta, has risen to stardom in 2019 thanks to his collaboration with rapper AJ Tracey on the single Ladbroke Grove.

We spoke to this self-confessed nostalgia nut about what the future holds for garage music – and football kits.

Conducta in and around London’s Ladbroke Grove, modelling some of his favourite purchases

I watched AJ Tracey perform Ladbroke Grove at Alexandra Palace recently. I remember writing that tune: the laptop was burning against my stomach at 4am because I’d been working on it for so long. Seeing something I made in my room amplified to thousands and thousands of people is amazing.      

I was surrounded by football from a young age. My dad is Nigerian and went to school with Nwankwo Kanu and Finidi George. I used to watch Arsenal on VHS and was mesmerised by Kanu; I remember him scoring that hat-trick against Chelsea. Thierry Henry was my idol growing up though. I was a striker and used to try to be like him – but then I got moved to centre-back.

Before football shirts became a ‘thing’ in streetwear, I was wearing them. A few years ago you could get shirts cheaply that are now going for stupid money – but you can’t be snobby about it. Embrace it. And I like the crossbreeding: you see football and music collide more now, especially in rap music. I couldn’t have asked for better.

UK garage is in a really good place. I knew, after Ladbroke Grove, people would realise how mad the genre is, so I created Kiwi Rekords to share more artists. I did some remixes for Jorja Smith, J Hus and Coco, and people loved that. It shows that if garage is put in the right place, there’s still room for it on today’s scene.

I’ve got near on 200 shirts. I’ve become more selective in what I buy; there are four or five pieces I desperately wanted and now have, so I’m satisfied with my collection. I have a Newcastle one that’s navy blue, gold and yellow. I’m not sure how much it’s worth, but I know it’s rare; it’s got Stéphane Guivarc’h on the back as well, the Premier League’s worst striker. I’ve got France’s Euro ’96 shirt too; it’s a really regal kit. I’ve got the gold Arsenal kit with Henry on the back, the one Arsenal won the league in at Old Trafford in 2002. I’ve also got a full Fiorentina tracksuit, from when Gabriel Batistuta was there, which I’ve worn once and never will again.

I’ve got a full Fiorentina tracksuit, from when Gabriel Batistuta was there, which I’ve worn once and never will again

I’m just a massive fan of the 1990s. I love history, especially recent history. I hold on to nostalgia a bit too much. Clubs are doing it nowadays too: Chelsea’s kit this season is inspired by their kits of the late ’90s, with the double collar and the panel in the middle. We’re all guilty of it. It’s about taking the best bits and making them relevant now – and I do the same with my music.

I like to create a good rapport with crowds. I played in Stockholm and wore a 1990s Hammarby shirt; it was this lovely green-and-white top. I consulted a couple of people I knew in Sweden beforehand so I didn’t go in a ‘bait’ top and the crowd loved it. They were almost shocked to start off with, maybe a bit confused, but the comments afterwards were mad and I’ve done it ever since. Actually, in Darmstadt I had a great reception. I think because they’re a smaller club, they didn’t expect someone to come out in their kit; it was like they thought I was a new player or something.

I’ve done a few risky ones too. I wore an old PSV top in Amsterdam and ended up getting chased back to my hotel by some Dutch bikers who turned out to be Ajax fans. I won’t be doing that again.

It burns me to say it but don’t be surprised if José Mourinho takes Spurs all the way this season. He has a knack of winning things, doesn’t he? I think a Bayern v Tottenham Hotspur final.

 I just want to keep making good music. I like to keep busy and keep experimenting. You make a tune like Ladbroke Grove and there’s a pressure, but I believe that life isn’t about chasing moments – it’s about making stuff you like and seeing what happens. Right now I’m just enjoying life.

In recent years, football and music have been linking up like Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright in their pomp. Musicians across the globe wear the shirts of clubs big and small; in some cases it’s because they support the team but, more often, it’s because said shirt has some sort of cachet as a result of being particularly rare or stylish.

One man who has been at the forefront of the football-as-fashion movement is the Bristol-born, London-based garage DJ Collins Nemi. He also happens to be very talented: the 25-year-old Arsenal fan, better known by his stage name Conducta, has risen to stardom in 2019 thanks to his collaboration with rapper AJ Tracey on the single Ladbroke Grove.

We spoke to this self-confessed nostalgia nut about what the future holds for garage music – and football kits.

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Conducta in and around London’s Ladbroke Grove, modelling some of his favourite purchases

I watched AJ Tracey perform Ladbroke Grove at Alexandra Palace recently. I remember writing that tune: the laptop was burning against my stomach at 4am because I’d been working on it for so long. Seeing something I made in my room amplified to thousands and thousands of people is amazing.      

I was surrounded by football from a young age. My dad is Nigerian and went to school with Nwankwo Kanu and Finidi George. I used to watch Arsenal on VHS and was mesmerised by Kanu; I remember him scoring that hat-trick against Chelsea. Thierry Henry was my idol growing up though. I was a striker and used to try to be like him – but then I got moved to centre-back.

Before football shirts became a ‘thing’ in streetwear, I was wearing them. A few years ago you could get shirts cheaply that are now going for stupid money – but you can’t be snobby about it. Embrace it. And I like the crossbreeding: you see football and music collide more now, especially in rap music. I couldn’t have asked for better.

UK garage is in a really good place. I knew, after Ladbroke Grove, people would realise how mad the genre is, so I created Kiwi Rekords to share more artists. I did some remixes for Jorja Smith, J Hus and Coco, and people loved that. It shows that if garage is put in the right place, there’s still room for it on today’s scene.

I’ve got near on 200 shirts. I’ve become more selective in what I buy; there are four or five pieces I desperately wanted and now have, so I’m satisfied with my collection. I have a Newcastle one that’s navy blue, gold and yellow. I’m not sure how much it’s worth, but I know it’s rare; it’s got Stéphane Guivarc’h on the back as well, the Premier League’s worst striker. I’ve got France’s Euro ’96 shirt too; it’s a really regal kit. I’ve got the gold Arsenal kit with Henry on the back, the one Arsenal won the league in at Old Trafford in 2002. I’ve also got a full Fiorentina tracksuit, from when Gabriel Batistuta was there, which I’ve worn once and never will again.

I’ve got a full Fiorentina tracksuit, from when Gabriel Batistuta was there, which I’ve worn once and never will again

I’m just a massive fan of the 1990s. I love history, especially recent history. I hold on to nostalgia a bit too much. Clubs are doing it nowadays too: Chelsea’s kit this season is inspired by their kits of the late ’90s, with the double collar and the panel in the middle. We’re all guilty of it. It’s about taking the best bits and making them relevant now – and I do the same with my music.

I like to create a good rapport with crowds. I played in Stockholm and wore a 1990s Hammarby shirt; it was this lovely green-and-white top. I consulted a couple of people I knew in Sweden beforehand so I didn’t go in a ‘bait’ top and the crowd loved it. They were almost shocked to start off with, maybe a bit confused, but the comments afterwards were mad and I’ve done it ever since. Actually, in Darmstadt I had a great reception. I think because they’re a smaller club, they didn’t expect someone to come out in their kit; it was like they thought I was a new player or something.

I’ve done a few risky ones too. I wore an old PSV top in Amsterdam and ended up getting chased back to my hotel by some Dutch bikers who turned out to be Ajax fans. I won’t be doing that again.

It burns me to say it but don’t be surprised if José Mourinho takes Spurs all the way this season. He has a knack of winning things, doesn’t he? I think a Bayern v Tottenham Hotspur final.

 I just want to keep making good music. I like to keep busy and keep experimenting. You make a tune like Ladbroke Grove and there’s a pressure, but I believe that life isn’t about chasing moments – it’s about making stuff you like and seeing what happens. Right now I’m just enjoying life.

Despite the nation’s proud history of producing gifted footballers, it was not until 1988 that a Belgian player first lifted the European Cup: right-back Eric Gerets captained PSV Eindhoven to victory against Benfica on penalties. It was coach Raymond Goethals who next left his mark, leading Marseille to the title against AC Milan in 1993, two years after they had lost the final on spot kicks to Crvena zvezda. Yannick Carrasco became Belgium’s first scorer in a final, for runners-up Atlético Madrid in 2016, before Divock Origi went one better in June this year, finding the net for winners Liverpool against Tottenham Hotspur, on a night when goalkeeper Simon Mignolet– now at Club Brugge – watched from the Reds bench.

Belgian players enjoying success with an English team is one thing, but Belgian clubs finding reason to celebrate in England is something else, particularly in London. After Club Brugge lost at Wembley in 1978 (Jan Sorensen is pictured above right in the semi-final, with Gaetano Scirea of Juventus), Anderlecht and Royal Antwerp both suffered heartache in the English capital, the former losing the 1984 UEFA Cup final to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane and their domestic rivals finishing second best to Parma under the old twin towers in the 1993 Cup Winners’ Cup decider. With the EURO 2020 final to be played at Wembley in July, could today’s generation of stars provide Belgium with reason for cheer in north London?

In recent years, football and music have been linking up like Dennis Bergkamp and Ian Wright in their pomp. Musicians across the globe wear the shirts of clubs big and small; in some cases it’s because they support the team but, more often, it’s because said shirt has some sort of cachet as a result of being particularly rare or stylish.

One man who has been at the forefront of the football-as-fashion movement is the Bristol-born, London-based garage DJ Collins Nemi. He also happens to be very talented: the 25-year-old Arsenal fan, better known by his stage name Conducta, has risen to stardom in 2019 thanks to his collaboration with rapper AJ Tracey on the single Ladbroke Grove.

We spoke to this self-confessed nostalgia nut about what the future holds for garage music – and football kits.

Conducta in and around London’s Ladbroke Grove, modelling some of his favourite purchases

I watched AJ Tracey perform Ladbroke Grove at Alexandra Palace recently. I remember writing that tune: the laptop was burning against my stomach at 4am because I’d been working on it for so long. Seeing something I made in my room amplified to thousands and thousands of people is amazing.      

I was surrounded by football from a young age. My dad is Nigerian and went to school with Nwankwo Kanu and Finidi George. I used to watch Arsenal on VHS and was mesmerised by Kanu; I remember him scoring that hat-trick against Chelsea. Thierry Henry was my idol growing up though. I was a striker and used to try to be like him – but then I got moved to centre-back.

Before football shirts became a ‘thing’ in streetwear, I was wearing them. A few years ago you could get shirts cheaply that are now going for stupid money – but you can’t be snobby about it. Embrace it. And I like the crossbreeding: you see football and music collide more now, especially in rap music. I couldn’t have asked for better.

UK garage is in a really good place. I knew, after Ladbroke Grove, people would realise how mad the genre is, so I created Kiwi Rekords to share more artists. I did some remixes for Jorja Smith, J Hus and Coco, and people loved that. It shows that if garage is put in the right place, there’s still room for it on today’s scene.

I’ve got near on 200 shirts. I’ve become more selective in what I buy; there are four or five pieces I desperately wanted and now have, so I’m satisfied with my collection. I have a Newcastle one that’s navy blue, gold and yellow. I’m not sure how much it’s worth, but I know it’s rare; it’s got Stéphane Guivarc’h on the back as well, the Premier League’s worst striker. I’ve got France’s Euro ’96 shirt too; it’s a really regal kit. I’ve got the gold Arsenal kit with Henry on the back, the one Arsenal won the league in at Old Trafford in 2002. I’ve also got a full Fiorentina tracksuit, from when Gabriel Batistuta was there, which I’ve worn once and never will again.

I’ve got a full Fiorentina tracksuit, from when Gabriel Batistuta was there, which I’ve worn once and never will again

I’m just a massive fan of the 1990s. I love history, especially recent history. I hold on to nostalgia a bit too much. Clubs are doing it nowadays too: Chelsea’s kit this season is inspired by their kits of the late ’90s, with the double collar and the panel in the middle. We’re all guilty of it. It’s about taking the best bits and making them relevant now – and I do the same with my music.

I like to create a good rapport with crowds. I played in Stockholm and wore a 1990s Hammarby shirt; it was this lovely green-and-white top. I consulted a couple of people I knew in Sweden beforehand so I didn’t go in a ‘bait’ top and the crowd loved it. They were almost shocked to start off with, maybe a bit confused, but the comments afterwards were mad and I’ve done it ever since. Actually, in Darmstadt I had a great reception. I think because they’re a smaller club, they didn’t expect someone to come out in their kit; it was like they thought I was a new player or something.

I’ve done a few risky ones too. I wore an old PSV top in Amsterdam and ended up getting chased back to my hotel by some Dutch bikers who turned out to be Ajax fans. I won’t be doing that again.

It burns me to say it but don’t be surprised if José Mourinho takes Spurs all the way this season. He has a knack of winning things, doesn’t he? I think a Bayern v Tottenham Hotspur final.

 I just want to keep making good music. I like to keep busy and keep experimenting. You make a tune like Ladbroke Grove and there’s a pressure, but I believe that life isn’t about chasing moments – it’s about making stuff you like and seeing what happens. Right now I’m just enjoying life.