NME meets Alex Mann: the viral sensation who rapped ‘Thiago Silva’ with Dave at Glastonbury

Every year there’s a proper moment at Glastonbury. Whether that’s thousands swarming to see Dolly Parton on the Pyramid, Jeremy Corbyn turning up on the main stage or Jay-Z covering ‘Wonderwall’; but in 2019 the moment didn’t come from somebody on the star-studded line-up. Instead it came from Alex Mann, a 15-year-old punter who was attending the festival with his pals.

We’ve all seen the viral video by now, but if you’ve been living under a rock let us remind you what happened. Midway through Dave‘s blistering Sunday afternoon set on The Other stage he decided to pluck one lucky audience member from the crowd and get them onstage to rap his collaboration with AJ Tracey ‘Thiago Silva’ with him.

“Who is sober enough to sing these lyrics along with me?” Dave asked the crowd. Spotting Alex, sat on his pal Sam’s shoulders, kitted out in a PSG shirt with Silva’s name and number on the back, he shouts: “I see a PSG shirt, but do you know the lyrics?” The teen quickly raps a few bars, and Dave takes a chance on him. Alex clambers on stage, gets set up with in-ear monitors, tells the crowd he’s “fucking buzzing”, and then proceeds to deftly rap the entirety of ‘Thiago Silva’ (not just the AJ Tracey parts he was meant to) alongside Dave. The moment has since gone viral.

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Since then Alex has racked up 170,000 followers on Twitter, had his performance recognised by Thiago Silva himself (the footballer slid into his DMs as he wants to chat on the phone), been contacted about a modelling contract from BoohooMan, and been booked for his first PA this Thursday in Newcastle.

And he’s had a few offers from record labels about a potential music career.

“I’ve had a few labels and a few producers message me, so it could be a thing,” he tells NME a few hours after his appearance on Good Morning Britain, “I’m looking to do one or two songs in the future, see how they go.”

But despite his impressive rapping skills, being a musician still isn’t top of his list of priorities. “I’ve just finished my GCSEs, so I’m starting college next year. I haven’t really properly decided what I’m doing next, I was doing A Levels and seeing where that took me…”

A Levels aside, it looks like the opportunities are endless for Alex, as celebs are lining up to grab him for a chat. We caught up with him to discuss the now iconic performance, the advice Dave has given him since, and how Jamie Redknapp has slid into his DMs.

What was it like that first moment when you set foot on stage at Glastonbury and looked out at thousands of people?

“That’s what I was literally thinking. All I was thinking was “I’m at Glastonbury festival, performing,” I think it’s just amazing to think about it.”

What did your parents think about it?

They found it quite funny, they think it’s all quite funny!”

What about your younger brother?

“I haven’t actually had a chance to properly speak to him about it, but I think he thinks it’s quite amazing, a lot of his friends are messaging him about it as well!”

And obviously there are the conspiracy theorists who think it was staged, how do you respond?

“I don’t really think there’s any proper response I can give them. Like, it’s their personal opinion. It obviously wasn’t staged at all, but I can’t really prove it. Cause nobody knows what happens behind the scenes or anything, but I want to say that it 100 per cent was not staged.”

Have you been in touch with Dave since?

“Yeah, he messaged me on Twitter the day after. He’s been really good and supportive about the whole thing. He’s offered his help, and he’s told me dos and don’ts on how to try and manage it all.”

Have you got plans to see him again or come out at another show?

“I haven’t discussed it with him yet, I think he’s in Ibiza at the moment for another festival he’s performing at and enjoying, so I haven’t had the chance to properly speak to him, but I hope so. I hope something comes of it in the future.”

Apart from AJ Tracey and Dave – who’s the maddest person to get in contact with you?

“I saw Gary Lineker post about it:  that was quite big. And I’ve had people like Jamie Redknapp message me on Twitter. I’ve had a lot of rappers I like as well that have been really supportive, like Dave and AJ, and I’ve had other rappers message me too.”

You’ve already got a PA coming up, do you have anything else like that coming up?

“I’ve tried keeping stuff like that to a minimum. I’m just thinking what’s actually best at the moment, I’m trying to get in touch with some managers who can properly manage it all and make sure I’m doing the right thing. Because I obviously want to increase in popularity, but then I don’t want to overdo it and it to get a bit washed out.”

When you were walking around Glastonbury after it happened, did you get noticed?

“Yeah it happened instantly. As I wanted to see some other artist on a different stage, and the stage was only a few minutes away, and it ended up taking me half an hour to get there as everyone was spotting me everywhere I went.”

And what do you say to people who were saying you were slightly intoxicated whilst you were on stage?

“I definitely wasn’t. I wouldn’t have even had the proper chance to, as Billie Eilish was straight before and there was half an hour break between that, and I was at the front the whole time. So if I had to have drunk two and half hours before I went on, and I just wouldn’t have been drunk by then.”

What’s next for you, any more festivals?

 “Yeah I’ve been invited to Wireless this weekend, which I think I might go to. A lot of people I really like are there, and just need to work out the logistics of it all.”