Interview

Play on

Whether he’s laying on an assist or laying down a beat, Memphis Depay is forthright on the importance of exercising his mind as well as his body. The Lyon captain talks abouts his forays in music and fashion – and how they contribute to his performances on the pitch

WORDS Ian Holyman

For a man whose signature goal celebration involves putting his fingers in his ears, Memphis Depay certainly does a lot of listening. Because while football has provided the substance of his life since growing up in Moordrecht on the outskirts of Rotterdam, music has provided the soundtrack.

Instinctively creative when dictating the rhythm on the pitch, the 27-year-old has transposed his natural talents to the studio. He’s reprising the times when, as a youngster, he would rap at family reunions while his relations accompanied him on a variety of instruments. He’d even throw out rhymes in the car when his mum drove him to games and recorded his first song with a friend when he was 14.

His Heavy Stepper EP hit the charts in November last year; it was his first multi-play release after a number of singles and musical projects, including a collaboration with Quincy Promes. “He’s so talented when it comes to making music,” says Depay of his international team-mate. “He produces, he records his own stuff – things I can’t do. I need a producer in the studio; he doesn’t.”

Depay is influenced by the beats emanating from across the Atlantic. “My inspiration comes from America,” he says. “They have the coolest ideas. I like Jay-Z; he’s everything a rapper wants to be.” A certain Canadian also gets a nod. “I think Drake is phenomenal. He’s broken all the records and his music is of a certain quality.”

It appears to be difficult for the Lyon captain to divorce his job from his off-field pursuits. For example, on a 2018 tune called 5 Milli he freestyles: “They be asking who’s my idol/Well I really got no idol/Cause the world Messi no Lionel.” And it’s not like he and Promes are the only internationals keen to express their fondness for melodies, particularly in the role of dressing-room DJ. “With the Dutch team it’s often Virgil [van Dijk]; everyone hands in their favourite track and he creates a mix with them.”

Not that Depay could tell you if he’s impressed with the centre-back’s efforts: “I like having my headphones on, to be honest.”

On reflection, it’s not that Depay can’t separate his artistic activities from his sporting ones: rather, he sees merit in merging them. As well as simply enjoying the pleasure that music can bring, Depay recognises the more significant role that it plays in his life. “Creativity is a good trait on and off the pitch,” he says. “In daily life you run into problems; nobody’s life is perfect. Sometimes you need help with them, other times you can use your brain, be creative and deal with them. I always try to think in terms of solutions.”

Intense, hard work was the only solution for Depay when, in a league game in 2019, he ruptured his ACL, ruining his club season and throwing his ambitions of representing his country at EURO 2020 into serious jeopardy. The pandemic eventually forced the tournament’s postponement, but his industry enabled him to return in time to help Lyon on their surprise run to the Champions League semi-finals last season. “I use my willpower to get through situations,” he says. “Everyone has experiences that leave scars, but you will always emerge stronger if your mindset is right.

“EVERYONE HAS EXPERIENCES THAT LEAVE SCARS, BUT YOU WILL ALWAYS EMERGE STRONGER IF YOUR MINDSET IS RIGHT”
By

“I still have an aggressive mentality when I want to achieve something, but I’m better at balancing it with staying calm and working harder. In the past, I was an ‘act and react’ kind of guy. I’ve evolved over the years.”

Something else that’s developed is his involvement in another creative outlet: fashion. “I’ve always been inspired by the latest trends,” he says. “But when you get older, you’re influenced by fashion weeks or artists who wear certain styles, as well as by fashion brands. Over time you build up a kind of collection, so that you always have things you can combine. When I look in the wardrobe, what I wear sort of decides itself – and sometimes something very unique comes out.”

Those hours spent on the treatment table allowed the former PSV and Manchester United player to take his enthusiasm for fashion a step further, with the launch of Memphis Depay Clothing. The designs are as flamboyant as their creator and include – as you might expect – an orange T-shirt bearing a logo modelled on that goal celebration.

“When I was injured last year, I did a lot of thinking,” says Depay, who has graced the cover of Vogue Man Netherlands. “That’s when I thought, ‘Why not set something up? Lots of people will be inspired by what I wear and they enjoy it.’ But this is only the beginning. It’s something new that I will have to find my way in. Lots of great things are in the pipeline which feature all the creativity I’ve had in my head.”

“YOU NEED TO SHOW YOUR SKILLS ON THE PITCH, BUT YOU ALSO NEED TO LIVE YOUR LIFE OFF THE PITCH. IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO FIND THAT BALANCE”


An attraction to artistry has been with him since the beginning. “As a child I already loved colours; I wear any colour, I don’t mind which one. I’m part-Dutch: my mother is Dutch and my father is Ghanaian. There tend to be a lot of colours in African culture. Wanting to dress nicely is also very important. I try to stay as true to myself as possible with the things I release onto the market. But with the first collection we tried to take it slow, because not everyone will perhaps wear these types of provocative colours.”

You get the sense that whether his creations sink or swim, Depay will continue unabashed. “It’s my passion, the same as with music. When I had the weekend off and I was in the Netherlands, I went to the studio to record. That’s how I spend my spare time. But also, when I was on a plane with the Dutch team, I wrote a lot of songs then.”

Some may raise an eyebrow at the image of Depay scribbling lyrics en route to playing for his nation, suggesting that his focus should be on creating harmony with his team-mates, not in the recording studio. But criticism runs like water off the heavily tattooed back of a footballer who has always played and lived the game his way.

“I watch football but I need to do other things to get in the right frame of mind,” he explains. “It makes me happy, and a player needs to be happy to be able to play well. That’s what I’ve learned. A couple of years ago, people looked at that differently; now you see that young players do what they want. In the end you need to show your skills on the pitch, but you also need to live your life off the pitch. For me, it’s very important to find that balance.”

Giving full vent to his passions will have to wait until he has shut out the crowd’s celebrations with his fingers for the very last time. Until then, as he continues to try to push his team towards next season’s Champions League, Depay still needs all his creative juices flowing when he gets onto the pitch. Not least because, as he points out in 5 Milli, “Back in Lyon goin’ savage/They be waiting for hat-tricks.”

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Interview

Play on

Whether he’s laying on an assist or laying down a beat, Memphis Depay is forthright on the importance of exercising his mind as well as his body. The Lyon captain talks abouts his forays in music and fashion – and how they contribute to his performances on the pitch

WORDS Ian Holyman

For a man whose signature goal celebration involves putting his fingers in his ears, Memphis Depay certainly does a lot of listening. Because while football has provided the substance of his life since growing up in Moordrecht on the outskirts of Rotterdam, music has provided the soundtrack.

Instinctively creative when dictating the rhythm on the pitch, the 27-year-old has transposed his natural talents to the studio. He’s reprising the times when, as a youngster, he would rap at family reunions while his relations accompanied him on a variety of instruments. He’d even throw out rhymes in the car when his mum drove him to games and recorded his first song with a friend when he was 14.

His Heavy Stepper EP hit the charts in November last year; it was his first multi-play release after a number of singles and musical projects, including a collaboration with Quincy Promes. “He’s so talented when it comes to making music,” says Depay of his international team-mate. “He produces, he records his own stuff – things I can’t do. I need a producer in the studio; he doesn’t.”

Depay is influenced by the beats emanating from across the Atlantic. “My inspiration comes from America,” he says. “They have the coolest ideas. I like Jay-Z; he’s everything a rapper wants to be.” A certain Canadian also gets a nod. “I think Drake is phenomenal. He’s broken all the records and his music is of a certain quality.”

It appears to be difficult for the Lyon captain to divorce his job from his off-field pursuits. For example, on a 2018 tune called 5 Milli he freestyles: “They be asking who’s my idol/Well I really got no idol/Cause the world Messi no Lionel.” And it’s not like he and Promes are the only internationals keen to express their fondness for melodies, particularly in the role of dressing-room DJ. “With the Dutch team it’s often Virgil [van Dijk]; everyone hands in their favourite track and he creates a mix with them.”

Not that Depay could tell you if he’s impressed with the centre-back’s efforts: “I like having my headphones on, to be honest.”

On reflection, it’s not that Depay can’t separate his artistic activities from his sporting ones: rather, he sees merit in merging them. As well as simply enjoying the pleasure that music can bring, Depay recognises the more significant role that it plays in his life. “Creativity is a good trait on and off the pitch,” he says. “In daily life you run into problems; nobody’s life is perfect. Sometimes you need help with them, other times you can use your brain, be creative and deal with them. I always try to think in terms of solutions.”

Intense, hard work was the only solution for Depay when, in a league game in 2019, he ruptured his ACL, ruining his club season and throwing his ambitions of representing his country at EURO 2020 into serious jeopardy. The pandemic eventually forced the tournament’s postponement, but his industry enabled him to return in time to help Lyon on their surprise run to the Champions League semi-finals last season. “I use my willpower to get through situations,” he says. “Everyone has experiences that leave scars, but you will always emerge stronger if your mindset is right.

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“EVERYONE HAS EXPERIENCES THAT LEAVE SCARS, BUT YOU WILL ALWAYS EMERGE STRONGER IF YOUR MINDSET IS RIGHT”
By

“I still have an aggressive mentality when I want to achieve something, but I’m better at balancing it with staying calm and working harder. In the past, I was an ‘act and react’ kind of guy. I’ve evolved over the years.”

Something else that’s developed is his involvement in another creative outlet: fashion. “I’ve always been inspired by the latest trends,” he says. “But when you get older, you’re influenced by fashion weeks or artists who wear certain styles, as well as by fashion brands. Over time you build up a kind of collection, so that you always have things you can combine. When I look in the wardrobe, what I wear sort of decides itself – and sometimes something very unique comes out.”

Those hours spent on the treatment table allowed the former PSV and Manchester United player to take his enthusiasm for fashion a step further, with the launch of Memphis Depay Clothing. The designs are as flamboyant as their creator and include – as you might expect – an orange T-shirt bearing a logo modelled on that goal celebration.

“When I was injured last year, I did a lot of thinking,” says Depay, who has graced the cover of Vogue Man Netherlands. “That’s when I thought, ‘Why not set something up? Lots of people will be inspired by what I wear and they enjoy it.’ But this is only the beginning. It’s something new that I will have to find my way in. Lots of great things are in the pipeline which feature all the creativity I’ve had in my head.”

“YOU NEED TO SHOW YOUR SKILLS ON THE PITCH, BUT YOU ALSO NEED TO LIVE YOUR LIFE OFF THE PITCH. IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO FIND THAT BALANCE”


An attraction to artistry has been with him since the beginning. “As a child I already loved colours; I wear any colour, I don’t mind which one. I’m part-Dutch: my mother is Dutch and my father is Ghanaian. There tend to be a lot of colours in African culture. Wanting to dress nicely is also very important. I try to stay as true to myself as possible with the things I release onto the market. But with the first collection we tried to take it slow, because not everyone will perhaps wear these types of provocative colours.”

You get the sense that whether his creations sink or swim, Depay will continue unabashed. “It’s my passion, the same as with music. When I had the weekend off and I was in the Netherlands, I went to the studio to record. That’s how I spend my spare time. But also, when I was on a plane with the Dutch team, I wrote a lot of songs then.”

Some may raise an eyebrow at the image of Depay scribbling lyrics en route to playing for his nation, suggesting that his focus should be on creating harmony with his team-mates, not in the recording studio. But criticism runs like water off the heavily tattooed back of a footballer who has always played and lived the game his way.

“I watch football but I need to do other things to get in the right frame of mind,” he explains. “It makes me happy, and a player needs to be happy to be able to play well. That’s what I’ve learned. A couple of years ago, people looked at that differently; now you see that young players do what they want. In the end you need to show your skills on the pitch, but you also need to live your life off the pitch. For me, it’s very important to find that balance.”

Giving full vent to his passions will have to wait until he has shut out the crowd’s celebrations with his fingers for the very last time. Until then, as he continues to try to push his team towards next season’s Champions League, Depay still needs all his creative juices flowing when he gets onto the pitch. Not least because, as he points out in 5 Milli, “Back in Lyon goin’ savage/They be waiting for hat-tricks.”

Interview

Play on

Whether he’s laying on an assist or laying down a beat, Memphis Depay is forthright on the importance of exercising his mind as well as his body. The Lyon captain talks abouts his forays in music and fashion – and how they contribute to his performances on the pitch

WORDS Ian Holyman

For a man whose signature goal celebration involves putting his fingers in his ears, Memphis Depay certainly does a lot of listening. Because while football has provided the substance of his life since growing up in Moordrecht on the outskirts of Rotterdam, music has provided the soundtrack.

Instinctively creative when dictating the rhythm on the pitch, the 27-year-old has transposed his natural talents to the studio. He’s reprising the times when, as a youngster, he would rap at family reunions while his relations accompanied him on a variety of instruments. He’d even throw out rhymes in the car when his mum drove him to games and recorded his first song with a friend when he was 14.

His Heavy Stepper EP hit the charts in November last year; it was his first multi-play release after a number of singles and musical projects, including a collaboration with Quincy Promes. “He’s so talented when it comes to making music,” says Depay of his international team-mate. “He produces, he records his own stuff – things I can’t do. I need a producer in the studio; he doesn’t.”

Depay is influenced by the beats emanating from across the Atlantic. “My inspiration comes from America,” he says. “They have the coolest ideas. I like Jay-Z; he’s everything a rapper wants to be.” A certain Canadian also gets a nod. “I think Drake is phenomenal. He’s broken all the records and his music is of a certain quality.”

It appears to be difficult for the Lyon captain to divorce his job from his off-field pursuits. For example, on a 2018 tune called 5 Milli he freestyles: “They be asking who’s my idol/Well I really got no idol/Cause the world Messi no Lionel.” And it’s not like he and Promes are the only internationals keen to express their fondness for melodies, particularly in the role of dressing-room DJ. “With the Dutch team it’s often Virgil [van Dijk]; everyone hands in their favourite track and he creates a mix with them.”

Not that Depay could tell you if he’s impressed with the centre-back’s efforts: “I like having my headphones on, to be honest.”

On reflection, it’s not that Depay can’t separate his artistic activities from his sporting ones: rather, he sees merit in merging them. As well as simply enjoying the pleasure that music can bring, Depay recognises the more significant role that it plays in his life. “Creativity is a good trait on and off the pitch,” he says. “In daily life you run into problems; nobody’s life is perfect. Sometimes you need help with them, other times you can use your brain, be creative and deal with them. I always try to think in terms of solutions.”

Intense, hard work was the only solution for Depay when, in a league game in 2019, he ruptured his ACL, ruining his club season and throwing his ambitions of representing his country at EURO 2020 into serious jeopardy. The pandemic eventually forced the tournament’s postponement, but his industry enabled him to return in time to help Lyon on their surprise run to the Champions League semi-finals last season. “I use my willpower to get through situations,” he says. “Everyone has experiences that leave scars, but you will always emerge stronger if your mindset is right.

“EVERYONE HAS EXPERIENCES THAT LEAVE SCARS, BUT YOU WILL ALWAYS EMERGE STRONGER IF YOUR MINDSET IS RIGHT”
By

“I still have an aggressive mentality when I want to achieve something, but I’m better at balancing it with staying calm and working harder. In the past, I was an ‘act and react’ kind of guy. I’ve evolved over the years.”

Something else that’s developed is his involvement in another creative outlet: fashion. “I’ve always been inspired by the latest trends,” he says. “But when you get older, you’re influenced by fashion weeks or artists who wear certain styles, as well as by fashion brands. Over time you build up a kind of collection, so that you always have things you can combine. When I look in the wardrobe, what I wear sort of decides itself – and sometimes something very unique comes out.”

Those hours spent on the treatment table allowed the former PSV and Manchester United player to take his enthusiasm for fashion a step further, with the launch of Memphis Depay Clothing. The designs are as flamboyant as their creator and include – as you might expect – an orange T-shirt bearing a logo modelled on that goal celebration.

“When I was injured last year, I did a lot of thinking,” says Depay, who has graced the cover of Vogue Man Netherlands. “That’s when I thought, ‘Why not set something up? Lots of people will be inspired by what I wear and they enjoy it.’ But this is only the beginning. It’s something new that I will have to find my way in. Lots of great things are in the pipeline which feature all the creativity I’ve had in my head.”

“YOU NEED TO SHOW YOUR SKILLS ON THE PITCH, BUT YOU ALSO NEED TO LIVE YOUR LIFE OFF THE PITCH. IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO FIND THAT BALANCE”


An attraction to artistry has been with him since the beginning. “As a child I already loved colours; I wear any colour, I don’t mind which one. I’m part-Dutch: my mother is Dutch and my father is Ghanaian. There tend to be a lot of colours in African culture. Wanting to dress nicely is also very important. I try to stay as true to myself as possible with the things I release onto the market. But with the first collection we tried to take it slow, because not everyone will perhaps wear these types of provocative colours.”

You get the sense that whether his creations sink or swim, Depay will continue unabashed. “It’s my passion, the same as with music. When I had the weekend off and I was in the Netherlands, I went to the studio to record. That’s how I spend my spare time. But also, when I was on a plane with the Dutch team, I wrote a lot of songs then.”

Some may raise an eyebrow at the image of Depay scribbling lyrics en route to playing for his nation, suggesting that his focus should be on creating harmony with his team-mates, not in the recording studio. But criticism runs like water off the heavily tattooed back of a footballer who has always played and lived the game his way.

“I watch football but I need to do other things to get in the right frame of mind,” he explains. “It makes me happy, and a player needs to be happy to be able to play well. That’s what I’ve learned. A couple of years ago, people looked at that differently; now you see that young players do what they want. In the end you need to show your skills on the pitch, but you also need to live your life off the pitch. For me, it’s very important to find that balance.”

Giving full vent to his passions will have to wait until he has shut out the crowd’s celebrations with his fingers for the very last time. Until then, as he continues to try to push his team towards next season’s Champions League, Depay still needs all his creative juices flowing when he gets onto the pitch. Not least because, as he points out in 5 Milli, “Back in Lyon goin’ savage/They be waiting for hat-tricks.”

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