As the lead singer of Bloc Party, Kele Okereke is responsible for one of my desert island disc choices, the bands 2005 debut Silent Alarm. Kele is currently preparing the release of his third solo album Fatherhood, which is due for release on October 6th. Later that month Kele will be taking over the Wedgewood Rooms on Albert Road as part of his UK tour.
Back in November when talking to the Guardian about the Being a Man festival he described his latest offer as “quite different to what I’ve done in the past. Over the years, with Bloc Party, I’ve been moving away from playing the guitar to exploring more electronic textures, but this record is the opposite of that. It’s something that is very intimate and it’s really for my Dad.”
The 35-year-old was born in Liverpool but raised in London to Nigerian parents. Kele cited a trip to his parents home in Nigeria for being a big influence in the album’s theme. He has also spoken of how his parents didn’t want to teach him their native language Igbo because they didn’t want him to gain an accent, they felt that it would be harder for him to assimilate to the British way of life. This may have been due to negative experiences they suffered when moving to the UK, a theme which is still quite prominent today. After feeling quite divorced from Nigerian culture the trip with his father helped the pair connect further and who he admits that he may have been quite distant with in the past.
Photo by Rachael Wright
This is the first time he has released music using his full name, previously preferring to use his first name. As it stands there have been three tracks released so far including a ‘Yemaya‘ and ‘Streets Been Talkin‘ and ‘Grounds For Resentment.’ The latter being a duet with Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander, a rare instance of a love duet sung by two out gay men to one another. “So I was very happy to sing a romantic duet with him on my album because I couldn’t think of a precedent of any out gay musicians singing a love song to one another without having to hide behind codes,” says Kele.
The album’s second duet is ‘Versions of Us’ with Corinne Bailey Rae. “I knew when I was working on the song that her voice would fit it really well so I was so happy when she was down to do it.”
I’ll be honest, my love for the early Bloc Party runs deep but I’ve not always been a huge lover of the electro route Kele and Bloc Party went. However, I am enjoying what I’ve heard from the new record so far. Kele is such an interesting guy and his talent is unquestionable, so I will be making sure that I am at the Wedgewood Rooms to see the show! If you’d also like to be there then you can get your hands on a ticket (£16 each) from the Wedgewood Rooms directly at www.wedgewood-rooms.co.uk.