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Nasir Mazhar vs Skepta

London's radical grime artist and the anti-concept designer get head to head – and reveal their collaborative soundtrack to SS15's show

Nasir Mazhar, one of the star designers on London’s thriving sportswear scene, has teamed up with grime ledge Skepta for his upcoming SS15 show at London Collections: Men. The pair have been brought together by Red Bull Catwalk Studio and have spent recent weeks knocking their heads together to create an original soundtrack (which you can hear above), as well as a look for Skepta to rock on the runway. They’re also working on a fashion party at Bethnal Green’s renowned Metropolis strip club, that promises to blow all others out of the water. Dazed caught up with the talented twosome to talk it through.

So you’re collaborating on the soundtrack for the show, but also on a jacket for Skepta?
Skepta: Yeah, that’s the plan. There can’t be a show with no music, so the music is the main focus at the moment. Then we’d like to make something for me to walk in. Oh, and we’re having an after-party, which is going to be quite crazy.

That’s going to be at the Bethnal Green strip club, Metropolis – are there going to be strippers?
 Ha! Well, you’ll have to come to find out.

Skepta, making music for a fashion show must be quite different to making music for the radio or the club.
Skepta: Yeah, it is. Normally I can make a song in four or five hours, but we’ve taken quite a long time to make this song because it is obviously different. For one, there are no lyrics on it, so you have to keep people interested with the beats and instruments.

And Nasir, what hand have you had in the music?
Nasir Mazhar: There have been some references and putting across ideas and thoughts on what it should be.

I hear you’ve been hitting the keyboard too, though!
Nasir Mazhar: Yeah. I did a bit. That was exciting!

Can you actually play?
Nasir Mazhar: Yeah, everyone can play.

I can’t! Are you a big grime fan? 
Nasir Mazhar: I listen to a lot of grime, hip-hop, R’n’B, old garage. A lot of UK music in general.

Did you ever make it to any Skepta parties or grime raves, growing up in London? 
Nasir Mazhar: I didn’t to be honest. When grime was taking off, I was just leaving school and exploring other parts of London, other music. I didn’t go to a lot of grime gigs. I went to random garage clubs off motorways.

Skepta, your brother JME walked for Cassette Playa back in the day, didn’t he? Your family has catwalk pedigree!
Skepta: Yeah, I was supposed to walk that Cassette Playa show as well but I didn’t. I saw Carri Mundane recently and she was like, “Do you remember when you were supposed to walk my show and you walked away?” and I was like, “Did I do that?” And I remembered there was an outfit that I really liked and wanted to wear, but she said it didn’t fit me, so she gave it to someone else and I stormed out!

You threw a little tantrum! 

Skepta: Yeah, I was a bit sad when she told me that. I really liked her stuff at the time. I guess I didn’t see why I couldn’t walk out in something I wanted to wear. 

Are you nervous he’s going to throw a tantrum on you then Nasir?
Nasir Mazhar: Ha! I hope not.

In your new track Skepta, “That’s Not Me”, you talk about binning all of your Gucci and Vuitton. Are you binning it to replace it with Nasir Mazhar?
Skepta: I stopped wearing all that a little while ago. I just think that nowadays in the streets, loads of people are robbing each other and killing each other to keep up with rappers and everybody that’s got money. They think that buying Gucci and Louis and standing on their council estate with like £2 in their pocket and a £300 Gucci bag means that they are on a level. But when you look at the Gucci and Louis campaigns, they never pull no street guys, when it’s probably street guys and lap dancers that buy the most Louis and Gucci anyway! They’re keeping Gucci going, but they just ignore our culture and act like we don’t exist, so I threw that out there to say fuck them. You’ve got people like Nasir and loads of street brands who get people from the culture involved, so we should be showing these guys more love than the people who don’t want to be associated with us.

Meanwhile, Vuitton put people like Mikhail Gorbachev in their ads! So Skepta, will this be your first time walking a show?
Skepta: Yeah, it will be my first time. It's gonna be a very sexy walk!

Oh yeah?
Skepta: Yeah, definitely! I’ve been practising down my street!

Ha! How are you feeling Nasir? This must be a really hectic time for you, before the show.
Nasir Mazhar: I am tired, but I’m excited. It's a new collection and things are going really well for the label, so I’m feeling positive.

Now you’ve met, do you feel like you’ve forged a new friendship?
Nasir Mazhar: Yeah. 

Skepta: Yeah. It's another collision of creative minds. I feel like every once in a while you meet people on a creative level. I'm sure our friendship will become bigger and better from this and I'm happy that he chose me, because I've always wanted to do design. I've been into clothes since I was a kid, going to garage raves and seeing all the Tottenham gangsters wearing Moschino and Versace. I just always had a passion for it.