Baller Tapes: Axel Disasi

Introducing a new revolving CLASH feature exploring the intersection of sport, music, fashion and lifestyle...

Axel Disasi is best known as a centre-back for Chelsea, but off the pitch the French national team player is becoming synonymous with effortless cool. Born in Gonesse, and raised in Villiers-le-Bel in the northern suburbs of Paris, Disasi – who is of Congolese descent – was raised on Rumba and French Rap. He cites South African DJ/producer Uncle Waffles and Parisian rapper Ninho as recent artists that he resonates with. 

A laid-back personality who doesn’t take things too seriously, Disasi says he is as likely to be caught soaking up some Amapiano at Afro Nation as he is taking in a concert by Italian composer Ludovico Emandi – the latter appealing to his calm, reflective nature. Having worked his way through the ranks of Paris FC’s youth programme to representing France globally, and playing for a Premier League club, Disasi says he wants his fighting spirit to inspire generations to come.

For CLASH, Disasi connects the dots between his divinely-ordained sporting talent and his passion for music and fashion.

How would you describe your personal style off the pitch?

Off the pitch I’m a fairly simple guy, I’m not really taking things too seriously. I’m a pretty chill, cool person going to training. I put more effort in my style when I go to the restaurant or out with friends but generally speaking I’m laid back in my everyday life. I like having a good laugh and relaxing.

Who’s the best-dressed player in your team?

I’d say Reece James isn’t bad at all. I’d say he’s the best dressed in our locker room.

Who are your biggest fashion inspirations?

I like how the Americans do it because they’re, how can I put it… very free in their way of dressing. So, I’d say Lebron James, or let me think… I’m going to go with Gervonta Davis on this one, I like what he’s offering a lot.

Do you think there’s more pressure now than with previous generations to have a certain amount of knowledge about brands and fashion?

I wasn’t really into it at a young age. Nowadays, athletes have become more than just athletes; they have to give more off the pitch, show their interests, show how they dress because they’ve become an inspiration on every level. With all the hype going on, I started liking and engaging more with fashion. I’m very much into it now and I enjoy it a lot because it allows me to discover new things, and also to see myself from a different angle.

What are your earliest and most recent memories of music?

This summer I went to Afro Nation with all the Amapiano, Afrobeats artists and so on. I also had the opportunity to attend a concert by Ludovico Einaudi. I’m of Congolese descent so Rumba was playing at home; Congolese Rumba, and a bit of French rap when on the block with my friends.

Music often shapes our identity. Which genres or artists resonate with you the most, and why do you think they connected with you?

It depends on the artist. Take Ninho for example, I’d say we’re linked because we grew up in the same environment, in a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Paris with all the good and bad that comes with it. We’re two guys that have worked hard to make it. I’m an Amapiano fan too, so I’d say Uncle Waffles, who makes joyful, fun music which echoes with my personality.

It could also be some piano-led music because I have a very calm side to my personality, where I take moments to myself to reflect on my situation. So, it could be a bit of everything so to speak.

What music do you play for your pre-game rituals? What’s the last song you played full-volume in the car?

Before games it all depends on how I feel. Generally speaking, I like listening to something that will hype me up, that will bring me joy, or something that will motivate me, and if motivation is what I’m looking for then it will be some hardcore French rap. If I want to get in a good atmosphere then it might be some Amapiano. On the way to this interview I was playing Ninho’s ‘Branché sur Snap’. I was chilling in the car on a one hour and a half drive here. It went smoothly.

With a platform like yours, how important is it for you to influence others in a positive way or inspire creativity in them?

As you said, it’s all about inspiring and motivating people, especially the younger generation. Through my attitude and my image I always try to give off a fighting spirit, where you can see my sacrifices, efforts and hustle. I do it to inspire the coming generations, the more people I inspire the better. So, I try my best in my everyday life to stay in this lane, always with joy because it’s important to smile at life. It’s our responsibility to do it the right way: to show our faces and our personalities, so that all the younger brothers and sisters who would hope and dream to achieve this very goal, already have a way paved for them.

Beyond football, are there any creative fields you’re passionate about exploring?

I love cinema, and acting… I could see myself taking classes someday. It’s something that speaks to me, along with music obviously, but I really like acting a lot.

Photographer: Ryan Saradjola

Stylist & Creative Director: Nayaab Tania

Videographer: Ahmed Haruki

Grooming: Nicola Svensen

Stylist assistants: Damilare & Hanifa via 9inety6ixagency

Axel wears Dior, Proleta Re Art, Louis Vuitton, Mihara, Acne Studios @ Mr Porter, Mr Porter, Purple Brand, Loewe, Rick Owen, Moncler, Entire Studios, Celine, MJ Jones.

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