The name S1lva is one you’ll be sure to hear a lot more in the coming weeks, with the news that the rapper has played an integral part in the imminent national football anthem, “Ole” (We Are England 21). As England face up to their last group game safe in the knowledge that they have already qualified from the group stage, it’s this track that the artist hopes will be accompanying the ongoing success of the team, serving as an essential part of the soundtrack to this summer.

A major international tournament always has the power to bring people together, sharing in the support of their national team. In England that means flags flying, drinks spilling, and little shame in showing off the nation’s colours in the boldest, brashest sense. Few events have this type of galvanising power on the nation, and it’s a feeling that’s not lost on the music world either, especially with the increased appreciation between both that has developed over the last decade.

For rapper S1lva, that love of the game is about to be taken to the next level, following his team up with Krept & Konan on the upcoming “Ole” (We Are England 21). The track was played in the Three Lions’ dressing room ahead of the Croatia game, and it’s set to officially drop in the very near future. Ahead of its launch, we spoke with S1lva about his love of football, the historic nature of taking on the tradition of the national football anthem, and meeting Declan Rice – an experience in itself. 

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Let’s talk about your relationship with football, where did it start?

Growing up in Brazil… I was there until I was six. Just living in a country like that, football is a big, big influence on everybody, especially as a kid. I didn’t have much say – I was always outside, always playing football. Every kid out there is the same – football is what we do. From young I would be going to the cages or to the park and everything I did revolved around playing football.

Did you grow up wanting to be a football player?

I think we all have that moment when we’re kids when we say “I just want to be a football player”. I’m not bad at football and I did have a moment when I said to myself, “you know what, I might try this football thing” and go for it properly. That was when I was at primary school going into secondary school. I had chances but I never went through with it like a lot of my friends did. A lot went for all the trials to be professionals, going around all the clubs. I wasn’t like that. It was at that point when I found music and that took my interest. I was still only around 10 or 11 but I got that buzz for music early. I’ll always love football but music was something I felt naturally good at.

At that point, when music took control, what grabbed you about making music and took you down that road?

It’s funny, I’ve always loved music. I’d never really thought it could be a career until maybe the last two years. I’ve always done it on the side but never took it too seriously. I used to do one minute freestyles and post them on instagram. Now with making music properly you end up releasing something once every two months. I’m so ready to be in this game. I grew up doing this. I’m now so determined with it.

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It’s special. It’s not every day that you’ll get people putting up thousands of flags in support of the national football team and the Euros. It brings people together. Football is so special like that. Music is like that too."

It’s easier said than done to get signed. How did that happen and what did you do to stand out?

It is. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. A lot of graft goes in. When I got signed, I hadn’t released anything myself. It’s incredible that my label trusted me and saw what I was about. Behind all of that, there had been hours and hours in the studio. A label won’t sign you for no reason. I had to show them the hours and hours of music that I had upcoming and that I was working towards. I’ve signed an EP deal as well, not just a single deal. So they’d have to see potential to do that. I’ve now got to graft and prove them right to back me. A lot of work goes in behind the scenes to get signed though.

How would you describe your music to people who haven’t heard it before?

I would describe it as different. For me as a person, I don’t stick to one sort of music. I don’t like to put myself in one single bracket. I try to work across rap, but I’ve been on a track with S1mba which is more pop. I’ve jumped on another track, which is more House. From trap to drill too, I just love music and I like to cross waves with one another.

Which players from your childhood personified football for you?

There’s a few. Mainly Brazilian players – it was their energy that really grabbed me. My head goes back to all those big World Cup moments. Ronaldinho obviously, he was massive for me. Ronaldo of course. They were big in showing character and personality, they made you fall in love with football.

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How much do you get wrapped up in a tournament when they come around?

I love it. It’s always exciting, even for people who aren’t into football, everyone gets into it. It’s always exciting. There’s always underdog teams and players that people grow to like. There’s always a team you didn’t expect to support that you end up rooting for. I love the competition of it all. Whether it’s the Euros or the Copa America or the World Cup, they bring people together. It brings a whole different mood to the country. It’s so good for so many reasons.

We’re shooting you in the Kirby Estate – it’s incredible, all these flags around. You said about tournaments bringing people together. What do you make of this?

It’s crazy but incredible. It just shows how much time people put into football itself but their love for it. Their love for bringing people together in this way. It’s unique. It’s special. It’s not every day that you’ll get people putting up thousands of flags in support of the national football team and the Euros. It brings people together. Football is so special like that. Music is like that too – they’re similar in the way they bring people together for things that they love.

Releasing “Ole” you’ve experienced how football and music cross over in such a strong way. What’s been your take on it?

With the Euros anthem we’ve made, the idea of the track was to really bring the whole of England together. It’s a crazy feeling. It’s SUCH a big thing. When I say, “the Euros Anthem for England”, that feels so huge. You don’t get many opportunities like that, that mean so much on a personal level. Very few people get to make a track for their National Team so it really is a mad feeling. I don’t think it’s fully hit me yet. We’re due to shoot the video soon so once that’s done and out there, I think that’s when it will hit me.

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What you’ve done is part of history now…

I know, that’s what I mean. It really is crazy. When you look at it like that, this is the anthem for the team from 2021. We’ll be able to look back at it in the future. It’s mad. I’m proud of it.

Does that set the standards now in terms of the levels you want to hit?

Very much so. This is going to be a big thing. That’s what I’m striving towards. I only want big things for my career so it’s the stepping stone to the consistent level I want to be at. It’s only the beginning but it’s such a high starting point.

Can you let us in to what it was like behind the scenes making that track and having players listen to it? Then the BBC turn it into a documentary…

One moment which blew my mind was when we went to the orchestra who played on the track. We went to the recording of the orchestral parts. I stood inside the mix of them. There was around 45 people playing in this orchestra. I stood there for a second and just listened to it. I just took it in. They are doing such incredible things and it sounds mad. “45 people out here right now, playing my song”. That was a really big moment for me.

Krept and Konan are the headline names on the track but it was a track you made originally – can you tell us how it came about?

There was a whole idea behind the track for it to always be football related. My label were backing that. We had it planned for the Euros originally but they obviously moved so we held tight on it. We wanted to make it a real anthem for the England team. We wanted it to be a big sound and have a big impact. I spoke to my label about it and they said “ok, we’ll try and get a couple of people on it”...all of a sudden I’m hearing names like Krept and Konan and it blew me away. Then I got told it was going to be the anthem for the team and it was just crazy. Then all these other artists got on it too – it was just too crazy.

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I had just met my man a few weeks ago and there he is out on the pitch at Wembley, playing for England, in front of millions of people."

What was it like to work with those artists, going from a fan of theirs to now recording with them…?

It was mad. The first time I went into the studio with Krept, I don’t think I spoke much at all. I was just hella nervous. That was the day that I met Declan Rice as well. He came through to the studio and we did everything for the BBC. My nerves got to me so I didn’t really say much to anyone – I was just so focused on making sure my part on the track worked. It was so sick. I want to make the nation proud with the track.

What was it like to see Declan Rice’s reaction?

That was another mad experience. He was there while we were recording. It was all so crazy. It was mad. When watching the game against Croatia, there was a moment where I clocked him out on the pitch and it just took me back. I was with him just a few weeks ago and now he’s out there on the biggest stage. It was at that moment where I just had so much respect. I had just met my man a few weeks ago and there he is out on the pitch at Wembley, playing for England, in front of millions of people.

How are you consuming the Euros, have you got sucked into it?

Oh I’m properly into it. England are my team. I’m trying to watch every game. I believe in them, I’m excited to see how it all goes in the next rounds. I’m loving it all.

Looking ahead, how do you want the rest of 2021 to look?

I want England to win the Euros! For me, I want to get my name and my music out there. Right now, I’m still very much building my platform. I’m working on my EP right now and that should be released at the end of this year or early next year.

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