Kele Okereke

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Kele Okereke
Okereke performing with Bloc Party at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion in 2018.
Okereke performing with Bloc Party at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion in 2018.
Background information
Birth nameKelechukwu Rowland Okereke
Born (1981-10-13) 13 October 1981 (age 39)
Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
OriginLondon, United Kingdom
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • vocoder
  • electric piano
Years active1999–present
Associated acts

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

Early life[edit]

Okereke was born to Roman Catholic Igbo Nigerian parents.[3][4]

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 Albums Chart, 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 UK Albums 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.

Bloc Party performing in London, January 2006

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.

In October 2008, Okereke moved to Berlin to seize the city's music oriented spirit.[5]

Okereke made a guest appearance on Tiësto's song "It's Not the Things You Say"[6] on his album Kaleidoscope, released 6 October 2009 and also Martin Solveig's 'Ready 2 Go', after which Bloc Party went on hiatus.

In 2011, Kele Reunited with Bloc Party to record the band's fourth album, Four, which was released in August 2012. Both the album and its lead single - Octopus, released a month before - peaked in their respective UK charts at number three.

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

Bloc Party reunited in 2015 with a new line-up. They released their fifth album Hymns on 29 January 2016.[7]

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. The album was released under the name Kele, dropping his surname. 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."[8] The first single from the album, "Tenderoni", was released on 14 June 2010.[9]

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.[10][11]

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.[12]

On 23 July 2014, Kele announced his second solo album, entitled Trick, to be released on his own label Lilac Records via Kobalt Label Services on 13 October 2014.[13]

Okereke released his third album Fatherland on 6 October 2017 under his full name (whereas his first two albums were released under the mononym 'Kele').[14] Two tracks, "Yemaya" and "Streets Been Talkin'", have been released from the album as of July 2017.[14]

On 19 March 2018, the Bloc Party Facebook page put a picture up indicating they were doing a tour of six shows in Europe performing songs from their first album, Silent Alarm.

In January 2019, "Leave to Remain", a new musical written by Okereke and Matt Jones debuted in London. Announced in September 2018, the musical about an interracial gay couple was preceded by the single "Not the Drugs Talking" which showed a move back towards beats following the more acoustic Fatherland.[15] Telling a love story through the Prism of Brexit, the new show is accompanied by a tie-in album of new songs. Speaking about the subject matter and his feelings on the UK in 2019, Okereke claimed that "It’s not a time that I’ve been proud to be British. It’s an ugly time. The opportunity to tell a story about people from different cultures coming together and finding love in the shadow of that is an important thing to stand up for."[16]

November 2019, saw the release of Kele's fourth album, 2042. The title is a reference to the year that census data predicts ethnic minorities will become the majority in the United States. Much of the album tackles political themes such as the Windrush scandal, Grenfell Tower fire and Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest. Musically, Kele fuses funk with experimental electro, glitchy guitars and West African beats. The album was released under the name Kele, again dropping his surname

Personal life[edit]

In March 2010, Okereke came out as gay in a BUTT magazine article,[17] 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.[18] 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.[19]

In 2010, Okereke launched a personal photoblog at 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.[20]

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."[21]

From 2001 to 2003, Okereke studied English literature at King's College London.[22]


Okereke performing live in 2009.

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."[23] When Oasis cancelled their headlining set at the Rock-en-Seine festival near Paris in August 2009, it was Okereke and the band's tour manager Peter Hill who announced to the crowd that Oasis had cancelled their slot during Bloc Party's set, sarcastically declaring the breakup to be a shame. After bandmate Russell Lissack played a brief part of the Oasis song "Supersonic", Okereke mockingly dedicated his band's track "Mercury" to the Oasis fans "who really, really wanted to see those inbred twins," referring to the Gallagher brothers and announcing to the crowd "so I guess by default, we are headlining!"[24]


For Bloc Party's second album A Weekend in the City, Okereke 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".[25]



Title Details Peak chart positions



The Boxer
  • Released: 21 June 2010
  • Label: Wichita
20 2 35 71 41 89 174 42 98
  • Released: 13 October 2014
  • Label: Lilac
99 9 92
(as Kele Okereke)
  • Released: 6 October 2017[14]
  • Label: BMG
  • Released: 8 November 2019[35]
  • Label: Kola
The Waves Pt. 1
  • To be released: 28 May 2021[36]
  • Label: Kola

Soundtrack albums[edit]

Title Details
Leave to Remain
  • Released: 25 January 2019[37]


Title Details Peak chart positions
The Hunter 79
  • Released: 25 November 2013[38]
  • Label: Crosstown Rebels
Candy Flip
  • Released: 31 March 2014
  • Label: Crosstown Rebels


Year Song Chart positions Album
2010 "Tenderoni" 31 6 63 58 54 64 The Boxer
"Everything You Wanted" 93 17[42] 79
"On the Lam"
2011 "What Did I Do?" 83 The Hunter
2014 "Doubt" Trick

Featured singles[edit]

Cultural influence[edit]

Online code school Bloc offers an optional API programming project called "Kele", named after Kele Okereke.[43]


  1. ^ "Rowland Kelechukwu OKEREKE - Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House)". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Bloc Party plot new Move". Clash. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  3. ^ "Biko". Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  4. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele on coming out to his parents". Pink News. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Backstage – Berlin Musik". 31 October 2008. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  6. ^ Dombal, Ryan (4 August 2009). "Sigur Rós's Jónsi, Bloc Party's Kele Okereke on New Tiësto Album". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  7. ^ "Bloc Party unveil new single 'The Love Within' and announce new album Hymns".
  8. ^ Harper, Kate (28 June 2010). "Kele Okereke Relies On Himself for The Boxer". Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke working on solo album". NME. 4 November 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke to release new solo EP". NME. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Kele releases The Hunter EP". Archived from the original on 28 October 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  12. ^ Sub Focus 'Turn It Around' ft Kele (Radio Rip). YouTube. 22 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Bloc Party Frontman Announces Solo LP as Kele". 23 July 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  14. ^ a b c Morgan Britton, Luke (5 July 2017). "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke announces solo album 'Fatherland' and shares new track 'Streets Been Talkin". NME. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Kele Okereke soundtracks new play Leave to Remain". The Line of Best Fit. 4 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke: This is not a time I'm proud to be British. It's an ugly time". The_Independent. 24 January 2019.
  17. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele on coming out to his parents". Pink News. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  18. ^ McLean, Craig (7 January 2007). "Kele Okereke: 21st-century boy". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  19. ^ "top 20 sexiest gay male musicians". LP33. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  20. ^ "Exclaim! Music". Archived from the original on 11 July 2010.
  21. ^ Fleischer, Norman. "Interview: Kele Okereke – 'The opportunity for rebirth'". NBHAP. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Swash, Rosie (29 March 2007). "Bloc Party attacks Oasis with thesaurus". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  24. ^ "Footage of Bloc Party announcing Oasis split onstage in Paris emerges – video". NME. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  25. ^ "Bloc Party: Ultra-violence and hedonism have fuelled this album". NME. 17 August 2006.
  26. ^ a b "Kele | full Official Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  27. ^ "2010 Top 40 Dance Albums Archive: 3rd July 2010". Official Charts Company. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  28. ^ "Kele – The Boxer (Album)". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  29. ^ "Kele – The Boxer". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  30. ^ "Kele – The Boxer". Ultratop. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  31. ^ "Kele – The Boxer". Ultratop. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  32. ^ "Kele – The Boxer". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  33. ^ "Discography Kele Okereke". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  34. ^ "Kele – The Boxer". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  35. ^ "2042 by Kele". Apple Music. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  36. ^ English, Laura. "Bloc Party's Frontman Kele Shares New Single 'Smalltown Boy' & Announces New Album". Music Feeds. Evolve Media. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  37. ^ "Leave to Remain - Amazon UK".
  38. ^ "Heartbreaker EP - Crosstown Rebels".
  39. ^ "Kele – Tenderoni". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  40. ^ "Kele – Tenderoni". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  41. ^ "Kele – Tenderoni". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  42. ^ "2010 Top 40 Dance Singles Archive: 28 August 2010". Official Charts Company. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  43. ^ "Bloc". Retrieved 28 April 2016.

External links[edit]