“It’s incredible, and I’m a big fan.” On the morning after Young Thug (aka Jeffery) released his Jeffery mixtape, British DJ/producer/songwriter Burns—née Matthew James Burns—is singing praises of the rapper’s album cover. Thug, who is today’s poster child for breaking style gender rules in hip-hop, posed in front of a camera wearing an Alessandro Trincone dress. "I think it’s cool that someone can go out there and push the boundaries a bit in a scene where it’s not necessarily considered a good thing to be overly fashionable or interested in fashion and style and take risks like that," Burns says. "Hip-hop’s always been a narrow-minded genre [when it comes to style], and in 2016, it feels like there’s a lot more open playing field."
Burns, who produced Britney Spears’ “Make Me,” (the one she performed at the VMAs) and co-wrote songs with Charli XCX, isn't as much of a risk-taker as Thug. But, he appreciates the rapper's personal style. "I just have a big interest in fashion and clothing, he adds. "And I like to try and take pride in it when I can."
Burns just released a new collaboration with L.A. rapper Elvis Brown and is currently working with various, high-profile pop acts (whose names he can't mention just yet). We spoke to Burns about Young Thug's importance to hip-hop style, collecting vintage T-shirts (like a super rare Prince Purple Rain Tour tee), and how he got into fashion.
On the best vintage piece he owns: “I’ve had this leather jacket for about seven or eight years. I found it in a vintage store in Ireland. It doesn’t have a label in it anymore, so I don’t know who makes it. When I first got it it was a real biker jacket with tassels, and for four years I wore it like that. Then I wanted to switch it up and cut the tassels off. It looks like it’s been through a war. I’ve had it for so long.”
On the best vintage tour tee he owns: “I have this really rare—it’s probably worth more money now—Prince tour shirt from when he did Purple Rain. I don’t really wear it anymore, but it’s really cool. I just came across it in London. After a few years, I looked into it, and I don’t think there are very many of them.”
On his personal style: “My style is quite indie. I like to go and pick out the odd designer thing now and again, but I love hunting down weird vintage stuff. I look more like I should be in a band or something.”
On how he got interested in fashion: “I’ve been obsessed with [fashion] since high school. I remember I worked two jobs so I could build my own studio and buy clothes. My dad was also always quite fashionable. He would always wear mad tight jeans and chelsea boots. I think he was obsessed with bands like Fleetwood Mack. I was influenced by style in music as well. I listened to a lot of bands growing up, like the Kings of Leon when they first came out. I wanted to look like that when I was a teenager.”