This Saturday, in association with Sonos, we spent the whole day playing FIFA 19 and drinking fancy lemonade in Soho for #SonosMatchDay. It was great: big sofas, football, the aforementioned lemonade and the new Sonos Beam hooked up to the screens, letting you Listen Better with its gut rattling bass hit every time you wallop the ball—the whole deal. Beers even came out later, too. It was really great.
A few lucky members of the public came down and played the game against influencers and me (three games, no losses; no big deal) and we gave away plenty of prizes to the best of them (and a couple to the worst). Mercury-nominated rapper and MUNDIAL favourite Loyle Carner also made an appearance, jumping on the controllers with mixed results. A 3–0 loss was an ignominious start to proceedings (“Why am I here if I’m just gonna lose?”) but it all ended beautifully with a glorious last-minute header against another MUNDIAL favourite and COPA90 mainstay, Poet, to win 4–3 in front of a packed room.
We caught up with Carner just before his big win to talk FIFA and no chill.
MUNDIAL: So you’ve got a younger brother—did you guys grow up playing FIFA together?
Loyle Carner: My brother used to hate it. He was like a proper gamer gamer. He was into shooting games and I was the one who got him into FIFA. I was always rubbish at it for ages and only used to play it at friends’ houses. We just didn’t have it in the house, for some reason, and then when I bought it and started playing my brother, everything changed. I’m still rubbish, though.
I remember once I was at a FIFA tournament at my friends’ uni, they were raising some money. I said I’d go down. It was in heats, and everyone was there, getting drunk and sitting around this one big projector with a couple of smaller TVs in the back. I made it through a few heats on the smaller TVs and, when I got to that big screen, I had never been so nervous. Ever. I was… I was shaking. More than I’d ever shook. It sucked.
How did you get on?
I got smoked. I was playing really well up until that point, but then I came up against a guy who just knew all of the tricks… I’ll tell you what’s a nonsense is that I’ll learn all the tricks and then, every time there’s a new game, they’ll change it a little bit so that I can’t do those tricks I learned anymore. I’m wicked at FIFA 18 and I’m rubbish at FIFA 19.
I guess it’s supposed to keep you on your toes.
Well, it definitely has. We play a lot of FIFA on tour, and I was alright. I played The Journey a lot, too, which everyone else hated, but I really liked it. Just because it’s fun to be able to play FIFA on your own sometimes. I liked the story, too. I was weirdly into it. Everyone was like “This is rubbish. It’s just a gimmick” and yeah, it was, but I bought into that gimmick 100%. I love that gimmick. I got to be a football player for the first time in my life. I’ve always wanted to be a footballer but never could, but there’s something about being in that PRO camera mode where you’re like “…that’s as close as I’m ever gonna be to scoring a goal in the World Cup.”
It’s weird, isn’t it, that on that setting, you’re just playing it and you’re concentrating like mad, and just popping off these short simple passes, playing the way your facing, usually without doing anything interesting ever, and you’re just… You’re hooked.
The kind of football I was playing with Alex Hunter was “get the ball, look up, pass it short, move it on, make the run, turn and face, turn and face” always.
What was playing FIFA on tour like?
It was wicked. We’d be playing a lot of doubles. On tour, though, I’m the best. Everywhere else in the world, I’m the worst.
Is it because your name is on the poster?
Yeah, definitely. “It’s my bus…” Nah, it’s just because everyone on the bus is rubbish.
FIFA is a weird game because, any other game, you can be in any sort of mood and it’ll barely affect the way you play. Every slight change in mood or mind-set or emotion for me, and I’ll be playing totally differently.
Me and my DJ, Rebel Kleff, had to stop playing it before we went out on stage for shows. Because we used to hate each other and then we’d have to go out on stage. The bus was usually like… directly behind the stage door. We used to step out the bus and step on stage. So if he’d to lose, there’s no break from me beating him at FIFA to us playing a show together. There were a few shows we played where genuinely, FIFA almost ruined it. We hated each other. I’d be like “What’s the next song?” and he’d be like “Don’t you know?” I had to apologise that I’d just smoked him one too many times.
So do you reckon you’ll be playing plenty of FIFA 19 on the next tour then?
As soon as I heard Martin Tyler’s voice echo out of the speakers I was back in for another year. Of course we’ll be playing it on the bus. We all get a bit addicted to it. I read about Anthony Joshua where he said he had to stop playing because he was getting home from training at 11 and staying up playing FIFA all night until 5 and then going to training again. I’m not that bad, but it’s pretty bad. It’s addictive, online. I’m addicted to Seasons. If you win, you have to play another, keep that streak going. It feels so good. If you lose, well, you can’t end on a loss, can you? They have you fucked, stuck in between these two things forever. It’s all too much. I have to just unplug it at the mains now after a few games if I’m losing, otherwise, I just won’t stop. There’s no pressing Exit and Quit. I take out the plug at the mains. And throw my controller. I’ve broken four.
I used to go and smash people at FIFA. I remember I played in a tournament set up by another musician, and I was just smashing people. But it was because I’d been watching loads of YouTube videos. I’d done the homework. I learned how to defend. I learned that the AI will close down and defend for you and then you select your man, track back, and sweep behind. Nobody could get to me. Then FIFA 18 came out, and it was more difficult… but I got to grips with it. This new one? FIFA 19… Well, you know, because you just beat me 3–0.
I did, to be fair, yeah.
I need to get on YouTube and learn how to play this one. Maybe I’ll start vlogging.
Imagine: “Sorry, there’s no new album because I’m a FIFA vlogger now.”
I would. I’d get like ten views, though. You’d be one of them, I reckon.
I don’t think there are many lessons I’m learning off you.
Okay, this is bollocks. We need to play again.