Black Saint are one of the freshest DJ collectives on the scene today, with an incredible track history and a string of sold-out shows across the UK and Europe. Their rise has allowed them to show off their own brand of dance music, combining garage and house and infusing it with flavours from their own cultural backgrounds. But aside from their unique sounds, Justin Osuji, Jermaine Davis and DJ James also have a connection to football that caught our attention…

Hooking up with Black Saint to shoot the new SoccerBible x Interhood ‘Firm Beliefs’ jersey, we talked all things football, from DJ James’ famous footballing father and his casual kickabouts with Ronaldo, to the boys’ rituals on game day. Music is their life, but it’s safe to say that football holds a very special place in all of their hearts.

How did it all start for you guys?

DJ James – Jermaine and Justin met in a friend’s studio in Whitechapel. Jermaine at the time was working for Garage DJ Mastersteps helping with his bookings. Justin had walked into the complex and was playing his productions to the owner, Jermaine’s friend bought him into the office to play his beats, and from there they went down to the studio and have been friends and making music ever since. They met me a year later. I was kid and used to hangout in the studio with them while they made music. Every opportunity I had I would jump on the mic or get on the decks.

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What music were you brought up on or listening to that made you want to get into the music scene?

Jermaine – My Dad was a DJ so I used to hear a lot of music growing up and there were a lot of parties at our house. Regge used to be the main music when I was really young, as my Dad is Jamaican. I used to love the way the mc’s would chat on the riddims. I would always try and copy them. I would say RnB was what really made me want to be an artist though. I used to want to be like Micheal Jackson but when I heard Jungle and Garage, it was on.

How would you describe your music for those who haven’t heard it?

Our music is an infusion of our cultural backgrounds, laced with the essence of House and Garage.

You recently hit one million streams on Spotify – that kind of shows that you guys are onto something, doesn’t it?

Spotify, Apple and all the streaming services have really opened up the playing field for new and up and coming artists, which is brilliant. Getting one million streams is not easy on these platforms, as there’s so much competition, so it does mean a lot when you start breaking those numbers. As you know, people are really listening and enjoying what we are doing.

What goes through your minds when you hit a milestone like that?

Let's get more music out! It’s crazy though when you see your song hit a million streams. You feel a great sense of achievement and also some validation, I guess, that you’re on the right path and people are feeling your style.

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What’s the last 12 months been like for you as things have developed?

Jermaine – To be honest these last 12 months we have been working on new music, we have had a couple of gigs, but really focused on getting more music made so we can be consistent with our releases. 

What does the summer look like for you?

Justin – We have our next single coming out on the 21st June, called Day Drinking, featuring an artist called Briet. Then we have a few parties we are putting together throughout the summer, which we will be DJing at, alongside some of our favourite DJ’s. 

What’s it like being in a three piece group, you work as a team in that sense?

Jermaine – Not gonna lie, its trying at times! We all have different ideas and we are like brothers so there’s a few arguments here and there, but in the long run thats what makes this work. As we aren’t afraid to say I don’t like that or you didn’t do well enough. So we are here to continue to push each other to become better musicians and most importantly better human beings. 

How much does football weave itself into your lives?

Jermaine – Weekly, playing multiple times and watching the odd game here and there! Justin and I both play for a Saturday league team as well, which is at a good competitive level, so we try and keep fit for that.

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"Watching Ronaldo score the best free kick ever against my father, I was both amazed and upset"

What teams do you support?

DJ – I support Liverpool, the club sits nicely in my heart for personal reasons but as a club they value loyalty and passion, and I like that.

Justin – I support Arsenal although my home team is Celtic... Both teams for me are classy outfit and I have been a great admirer of players from both clubs particularly Henrik Larsson for Celtic and Bergkamp and Henry for Arsenal.

Is a Saturday a big football day for you?

DJ – No, I enjoy watching good football but would rather be playing! 

Justin – Yes for me it is. We play for our team on a Saturday when we’re not out of town DJ’ing, and Match Of The Day gets watched to the end... Saturday’s don’t feel the same without those!

What kind of fans were you growing up? Did you have pictures on the walls? The kits etc?

DJ – Fortunately I was surrounded by the players I looked up to and yes I have a good collection of kits!

Justin – My Mum wasn’t a big fan of football at all, and there was only one TV in the house, so I never got to watch much... I had a few Celtic pictures on the wall although my first kit was actually an Everton away kit, which is quite random, but it was the only one I could afford at the time and I battered it!

What memories stand out?

DJ – Playing football with Ronaldo in Portugal just after his transfer to Real, that was a moment not to forget. Also watching Ronaldo score the best free kick ever against my father (Man united vs Portsmouth), I was both amazed and upset [Laughs]. 

Justin – How can I top that?!

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Can you remember what point you kind of fell for football?

DJ – Yep, my first breath on this planet. 

Justin – For me it was through playing it... I played every day and jut loved the competition... I used to imagine playing for Celtic and scoring the winning goal in the Scottish FA cup final!

Was playing the game professionally ever an option?

DJ – It was an option for me. I was in and out of the system growing up throughout many travels up and down the country but it’s definitely not something you can just happen to do, it’s a decision that requires a whole lot of commitment. 

Justin – I played for my district team and even got a call up for Scotland U15s, but at the same time I got injured by swinging off a crossbar and crashing on my back. During my recovery, I filled in for someone singing at a local concert and got signed to a label after that, so I left football behind in favour of music at the time.

How has the viewing or consuming experience changed for you – what does a match day look like now?

Jermaine – For me and Justin, an early Friday night, oatmeal in the morning and an unnecessarily intense amateur win, talksport on the radio for the journey. 

Do you ever think you could pen something musically for a football environment? Getting your music played at a stadium for example would be unique.

Jermaine – Yes, I love the music that gets chosen for sports as it’s normally encouraging and positive!  Also we are big FIFA heads so whenever we have our music featured, it’s always a great feeling!

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What do you think about the crossover between music, football and fashion these days – the likes of the 2018 Nigeria kits through to what PSG are doing with Jordan – does that catch your eye?

DJ – The crossover is one that makes sense, football players are icons and are looked up to for all reasons including fashion. My father was one of the first players to shoot a high fashion campaign (Armani in '95) and that was a changing point, but in sport it is becoming increasingly popular, for example Jordan crossing over into football as a basketball brand is huge! 

What players do you rate as being creatives, a bit different and fresh for the game?

DJ – Some players are naturally entertainers. Now we have a formula for creating these iconic personalities but if we look back at Paul Gascoigne, George Best, Eric Cantona: they created a platform for players to have a personality. Brands may have never dreamed of collaborating with such characters, but I think David Beckham was very revolutionary in that sense as much as he never shocked people with his character as those guys have, yet he still bridged that gap between brands an sportsmen. Now we see opportunity across all sports for guys like Lewis Hamilton and Anthony Joshua. It's a great time to be a sports professional!

Pick up the SoccerBible x Interhood ‘Firm Beliefs’ Jersey here.