Kele Okereke

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Kele Okereke
Kele Okereke Cropped.jpg
Background information
Birth name Kelechukwu Rowland Okereke
Born (1981-10-13) 13 October 1981 (age 32)
Liverpool, England
Origin London, England
Genres Indie rock, post-punk revival, alternative dance, electro house, alternative rock, art punk
Instruments Vocals, guitar, vocoder
Years active 2002–present
Labels Wichita
V2
Associated acts Bloc Party, Tommy Sparks, Tiësto, Martin Solveig, The Chemical Brothers, Hercules & Love Affair, Lucy Taylor
Website iamkele.com
Notable instruments
Fender Telecaster
Gretsch Tennessee Rose
Rickenbacker 620
Fender Performer

Kelechukwu "Kele" Rowland Okereke (born 13 October 1981) is a British musician, best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the indie rock[1] band Bloc Party.[2]

Early life[edit]

Okereke was born in Liverpool to Roman-Catholic Igbo Nigerian parents.[3] His mother was a midwife, and his father a molecular biologist. He grew up in London with his sister. As a child, he went to school at Ilford County High School (where he was known as Rowly), but switched to Trinity Catholic High School, Woodford Green for sixth form at age 16. He lived in Bethnal Green, and in 1998 he became friends with a student of nearby Bancroft's School, Russell Lissack, who would become Bloc Party's guitarist. A year later, while studying English Literature at King's College London, Okereke met Lissack again at Reading Festival, where the band was officially formed under the title of 'The Angel Range'. In 2001, Okereke moved out of his parents' home. He went on to meet Gordon Moakes and Matt Tong who became the band's permanent bass guitarist and drummer, respectively. In 2003, the band changed its name to Bloc Party after briefly being called Union.

Music career[edit]

Bloc Party[edit]

In 2005, Bloc Party released their first studio album, titled Silent Alarm. The album reached number three in the UK charts, and propelled the band to fame. Despite this, Okereke continued to study English literature at university. Until the release of Silent Alarm, he had kept his musical activities secret from his parents.

The band released their second album A Weekend in the City on 5 February 2007 in the UK and 6 February in the US. The album debuted at No. 12 in the Billboard 200 with 48,000 copies sold, and reached the No. 2 spot in the Official UK Chart.

It became available via the UK's iTunes Store a day ahead of schedule, on 4 February. The first single, "The Prayer", was released on 29 January, having been made available on Myspace on 22 November 2006. It reached No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart, still the group's highest placing. The next single, "I Still Remember," was the album's first in the US. The album was produced by Jacknife Lee.

In the build up to the release of the album, Zane Lowe aired a live set from the BBC studios at Maida Vale featuring a mix of old songs and new ones on his evening radio show on BBC Radio 1 on 30 January 2007. The band also scheduled their first gig with the second album at Reading Hexagon to coincide with the UK release date. On 1 February 2007, A Weekend in the City was made available to listen to for free through the band's official Myspace website.

The third album released by the band Intimacy, was initially only made available for purchase on their website as a download on 21 August 2008. The record was released in compact disc form on 24 October 2008, with Wichita Recordings as the primary label. It peaked at number 8 on the UK Albums Chart and entered the Billboard 200 in the United States at number 18.

The band went on hiatus as of 31 October 2009.

In October 2008, Okereke moved to Berlin to seize the city's music oriented spirit.[4]

Okereke makes a guest appearance on Tiësto's song "It's Not the Things You Say"[5] on his album Kaleidoscope, released 6 October 2009 and also Martin Solveig's 'Ready 2 Go'.

In 2011, Kele Reunited with Bloc Party to record the bands fourth album Four which was released in August 2012 with the lead single Octopus released a month before, it peaked in the UK Album charts at number three.

In 2013, the band have released an EP Called The Nextwave Sessions and gone on an indefinite hiatus.

Solo career[edit]

Okereke released his first solo album, titled The Boxer, produced by XXXChange, on 21 June 2010, through Wichita / Polydor in the UK and Europe and Glassnote Records for the rest of the world. Okereke explained the album title, saying "as a boxer, you have to rely on nobody else but yourself to achieve what it is you want to achieve. Even though you take hits, you have to keep focus on your priorities and keep going. I thought that was an inspiring image."[6] The first single from the album, "Tenderoni", was released on 14 June 2010.[7]

On 13 September 2011, NME and Wichita Recordings announced that Kele would be releasing a follow up to The Boxer; an EP titled The Hunter.[8][9]

Kele released the single "Everything You Wanted". It was remixed by South African producers DJ Qness and DJ Mujava, who brought in a fusion of pop along with their traditional South African Kwaito music.

Kele features on Sub Focus' single "Turn It Around" from his second studio album Torus. The song was released on 22 September 2013.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Okereke is extremely shy.[11] He has expressed disdain for interviews, asking one interviewer from Skyscraper magazine, "Why is it important to know what I had for breakfast? Or who I went to bed with? Or what sneakers I am wearing? If it's relevant to understanding my music, then so be it. But if it's purely to satisfy the media's obsession with celebrity, then no thanks. I don't want to play that game."[12] The focus of one interview with NME in July 2005 was largely to do with his dislike of being interviewed. In it he implied that the media placed deliberate emphasis on conflicts between bands and did not want to be drawn into such publicity, saying that "public feuding between bands is completely pointless."[13] Okereke has also said, "people think that I hate being approached but that's not true" in NME on 15 September 2005.

In March 2010 Okereke came out as gay in a BUTT magazine article,[14] and he then gave an interview and appeared on the front cover of the June 2010 issue of attitude magazine. Previously he had been reluctant to discuss his sexuality, though he had compared himself to famous bisexuals Brian Molko and David Bowie, as well as Morrissey.[15] He also discussed the homoerotic story behind the Bloc Party song "I Still Remember" and the semi-autobiographical nature of it. In June 2010 Okereke was named as the Sexiest Out Gay Male Artist by music website LP33 in its annual survey.[16]

In 2010, Okereke launched a personal photoblog at iamkele.com. On 7 June, whilst being interviewed by Steve Lamacq, Okereke said he would be moving to Manhattan at the end of the year. As of July 2010, Okereke was still living in Shoreditch in East London.[17]

In a 2014 interview with NBHAP, Okereke told that he is "excited about the future. There is a lot going on, a lot of upheaval but with change comes the opportunity for rebirth, which is my favourite kind of experience."[18]

Controversy[edit]

Feud with Oasis[edit]

Okereke responded critically to comments made by Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis in early 2007. Liam called Bloc Party "A band off of University Challenge", while Noel dismissed them as "indie shit". In retaliation, Okereke stated, "I think Oasis are the most overrated and pernicious band of all time. They had a totally negative and dangerous impact upon the state of British music. They have made stupidity hip. They claim to be inspired by The Beatles but, and this saddens me, they have failed to grasp that The Beatles were about constant change and evolution. Oasis are repetitive Luddites."[19] Ironically, when Oasis cancelled their headlining set at the Rock-en-Seine festival near Paris in August 2009 (the concert where the Gallagher brothers clashed backstage, which resulted in Oasis splitting up), it was Okereke who announced to the crowd that Oasis had cancelled their slot and dedicated their track "Mercury" to the Oasis fans in the crowd, referring to the Gallagher brothers as "those inbred twins" before announcing to the crowd "so I guess by default, we are headlining!"[20]

Style[edit]

"Helicopter", could be seen as a song addressed to George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. It has the lyrics: "North to south, empty, running on, bravado... He's gonna save the world... Just like his Dad... (the same mistakes), Some things will never be different... Are you hoping for a miracle? (It's not enough)" In response to this issue, Okereke said in an interview, "'Helicopter' isn't about Bush; it's a song about waking up and realizing certain things. I hope what people got from that song wasn't a critique of American life. I got really worried when I started reading our message boards; there was an American who had read the lyrics of "Helicopter" and had come to the conclusion that we were advocating that the European way is the ideal. But that wasn't it at all. Europeans have their own set of problems."

Nonetheless, for the second album A Weekend in the City, he chose more personal and political subjects for songs. A family friend, Christopher Alaneme, had been murdered in a racist attack, while David Morley, a London bartender, was beaten to death in a possibly homophobic "happy slapping". Okereke has claimed that these events, combined with the 7 July London bombings "galvanised [his] mindset", prompting him to make the lyrics "dark, bigger and quite abrasive".[21]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions
UK
[22]
UK
Dance

[23]
AUS
[24]
AUT
[25]
BEL
(FLA)

[26]
BEL
(WAL)

[27]
FRA
[28]
SWI
[29]
IRL
[30]
2010 The Boxer 20 2 35 71 41 89 174 98 42

EPs[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions
UK UK
Dance
AUS AUT BEL
(FLA)
BEL
(WAL)
FRA SWI IRL
2011 The Hunter 79

Singles[edit]

Year Song Chart positions Album
UK
[31]
UK
Dance
AUS
[32]
AUT BEL (FLA)
[33]
BEL (WAL)
[34]
2010 "Tenderoni" 31 6 63 58 4 14 The Boxer
"Everything You Wanted" 93 17[35]
"On the Lam"
2011 "What Did I Do?" 83 The Hunter

Featured singles[edit]

Musical equipment used[edit]

The following is a list of equipment used by Okereke.

Guitars:

Effects pedals:

  • Ernie Ball Volume Pedal
  • BOSS LS-2 Line Selector (x2)
  • BOSS DF-2 SUPER Feedbacker Distortion
  • BOSS ODB-3 Bass OverDrive
  • BOSS OC-3 SUPER Octave
  • BOSS SYB-3 Bass Synthesiser
  • Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeller
  • Line 6 FM4 Filter Modeller
  • BOSS TU-2 Chromatic Tuner
  • BOSS DD-3 Digital Delay
  • Arion SAD-1 Analogue Delay
  • BOSS RC-20XL Loop Station

Used To Manipulate Voice

  • Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeller
  • BOSS PS-5 SUPER Shifter

Amplifiers:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bloc Party plot new Move". Clash. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Interview with Matt and Kele at Planeta Terra Festival". Retrieved 2009-03-19. 
  3. ^ "Biko". Retrieved 1 June 2009. 
  4. ^ "Backstage – Berlin Musik". ARTE.tv. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Dombal, Ryan (4 August 2009). "Sigur Rós's Jónsi, Bloc Party's Kele Okereke on New Tiësto Album". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Harper, Kate (28 June 2010). "Kele Okereke Relies On Himself for The Boxer". Chartattack.com. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke working on solo album". NME. 4 November 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke to release new solo EP". NME. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Kele releases The Hunter EP". Wichita-recordings.com. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  10. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaMWoeF281Y
  11. ^ McLean, Craig (7 January 2007). "21st-century boy". The Observer (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  12. ^ Blackman, Guy (17 July 2005). "Preciously private". The Age. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  13. ^ "Hot Beef: Bloc Party vs. Art Brut". Spin. 2 August 2005. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele on coming out to his parents". Pink News. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  15. ^ McLean, Craig (7 January 2007). "Kele Okereke: 21st-century boy". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  16. ^ "top 20 sexiest gay male musicians". LP33. Retrieved 2010-06-25. 
  17. ^ Bloc Party's Kele Okereke • Questionnaire • exclaim.ca
  18. ^ Fleischer, Norman. "Interview: Kele Okereke – ‘The opportunity for rebirth’". NBHAP. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  19. ^ Swash, Rosie (29 March 2007). "Bloc Party attacks Oasis with thesaurus". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  20. ^ "Footage of Bloc Party announcing Oasis split onstage in Paris emerges – video". NME. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  21. ^ "Bloc Party: Ultra-violence and hedonism have fuelled this album". NME. 17 August 2006. 
  22. ^ "2010 Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive: 3rd July 2010". Official Charts Company. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  23. ^ "2010 Top 40 Dance Albums Archive: 3rd July 2010". Official Charts Company. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  24. ^ "Kele – The Boxer (Album)". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  25. ^ "Kele – The Boxer". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  26. ^ "Kele – The Boxer". ultratop.be. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  27. ^ "Kele – The Boxer". ultratop.be. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  28. ^ "Kele – The Boxer". lescharts.com. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  29. ^ "Kele – The Boxer". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  30. ^ "Discography Kele Okereke". irishcharts.com. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  31. ^ "Kele". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  32. ^ "Kele – Tenderoni". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  33. ^ "Kele – Tenderoni". ultratop.be. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  34. ^ "Kele – Tenderoni". ultratop.be. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 
  35. ^ "2010 Top 40 Dance Singles Archive: 28 August 2010". Official Charts Company. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011. 

External links[edit]