An interview with Bloc Party's Kele Okereke on sweat, spew and going solo.
With Bloc Party on hiatus, frontman Kele Okereke is going solo. His debut album The Boxer takes the dance elements in Bloc Party's latest work and multiplies them tenfold. Hype has surrounded the artist recently after his widely publicized deep-and-meaningful in BUTT Magazine, in which he talks candidly about his sexuality and coming out. Touring alongside acts like Missy Elliott, Groove Armada and Cut Copy as part of the bumper line-up for the 2010 Parklife Festival, Kele spoke to Oyster's Zac Bayly before the launch of the new album.
Are you somewhere very noisy at the moment?
I'm just leaving a festival, but the thing is, it's really bad reception here, so if it cuts out you'll have to call me back. I'm not being weird; it's just that I'm in the middle of a field, so it's quite bad reception.
Ok. I've just been listening to your new single 'Tenderoni' and I love it. Why did you pick that for the first single?
Love it. (laughs) It just seems to energise everyone who hears it; it felt like it was the right thing to do. It just has a euphoric feel.
Boring question. Why did you call the album The Boxer?
Umm, well, I like the idea of? (Yelling in background) Oh shit! Shit! Oh! Ha ha! Ok Ok Ok, I'm wet. I'm wet. I'm wet all over.
GIRL IN BACKGROUND: My bad, sorry!
Ok, I'm sorry. She just threw up everywhere. All over everyone, she can't look after herself. I'm going to smell like your sick for the next two days. The thing about vomit is, it's acidic.
Who vomited on you?
Who throws up on a box? Who does that? She's so tired. Sorry about that. You were asking, why did I call the album The Boxer?
Yes, I was asking that a while ago.
Sorry, I can't answer that question anymore!
PHONE DROPS OUT
Hello, sorry about that. I totally shouted at her. I gave her the tumble hair dryer - I shouted at her face and her hair went back.
Haha! Are you nervous about releasing the album? You've probably been asked that a billion times as well...
No no, I have been, but that's ok. I'm not nervous, I'm just glad that I got the album done by myself. Now I'm just looking forward to putting it out and people getting a chance to hear it. I'm excited. It's a happy kind of nervous.
What can we expect from the album, sound-wise? It seems to be more upbeat than the last Bloc Party album.
It's all total upbeat party jams, slamming hooks, killer hits. It's all killer no filler.
What made you want to go solo?
It wasn't a case of going solo, it was just a case of us saying we were going to take a year out of what we were doing, in Bloc Party, but I still wanted to do music. So it was a case of doing it by myself, to pass the time. It wasn't a decision to go solo; it was a decision to keep playing music.
Is there a future for Bloc Party?
I dunno, we'll see. Nobody knows what the future will bring. We said that we would get together in a year's time, so in a year, we'll get together and have a chat. But right now, I'm focusing on this record that I've made, that's really awesome.
Do you find in these sorts of situations, that you hear things from each other via the media?
I don't really read interviews. Secondly, I'm the only one doing interviews. It's only going to be my perspective. If the others start doing interviews in the future, that will be interesting.
Tell me about working with Hudson and XXXchange.
It was great working with XXXchange. He had a studio in Brooklyn with everything in it. It was great working with him; he had lots of ideas and was very flexible. We only worked from twelve til five, which was just enough time to do things before we started going crazy.
So how did you approach this album compared to how you would approach an album with the band?
When we recorded Intimacy, the last Bloc Party album, half the songs were traditional band compositions, but the others... We didn't play them live; we recorded them onto the computer, songs like 'Mercury' and 'Signs'. With this record, The Boxer, we carried on the process ? me and the producer by the computer screen, editing things together, as opposed to traditional performance takes. That's how the process changed.
What can we expect from a live set from Kele?
I think you can expect some emotion, some sweat, some power, some intensity, but also good times with good people. That's what you can expect.
I heard you were thinking of moving cities and going to New York, is that true?
Yeah, at some point. I don't know if it will be possible in the immediate future, but at some point.
What makes you want to do that?
I've lived in London all my life, and I think its time to do something else. I get bored very easily; I think its time for a change of scene. I like NY, the people are nice and funny, and I have great conversations and the food's nice.
You're heading to Australia soon for Parklife. What do you like about performing in Australia?
I like Australian crowds because they give so much. They're more responsive, they enjoy live music, and they give a lot. It's always a pleasure. A good live show is a mutual experience. You know, you feed off the energy of the audience and they feed off your energy. It's a team thing.
Kele is part of the 2010 10th Anniversary Parklife Line-up also featuring Missy Elliot, Groove Armada, The Dandy Warhols and Soulwax, by Fuzzy Events. Parklife tickets are on-sale July 1 at www.parklife.com.au.