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Interview
Kele Okereke

Kele Okereke

Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
date
Thursday 10th November, 2011 10:21AM

Ex Bloc Party front man Kele Okereke has just released a new EP The Hunter following his 2010 solo debut The Boxer. We caught up with Okereke to discuss his work as a solo artist, what the EP's about and what his forthcoming set of short stories is all about.

Hey Kele, what are you up to at the moment?

Not much. I’m in New York it’s a pretty miserable day but apart from that I’m in a good mood.

You’ve got a new EP coming out, are you looking forward to the new release?

Yeah I am really excited, I’m always excited when I get to grace my fans with excellent new music.

So tell me about writing and recording the EP:

Well I guess I wrote the majority of these tracks after I put The Boxer out in 2010. I started them in London and worked with a bunch of producers, particularly XXXChange, but a whole bunch of people I was into. Writing and finishing the tracks was kind of a long process over the year I was touring but it feels liberating now that it's finally out.

Going into this set of tracks, did you have any particular direction musically or otherwise you wanted to explore?

No, not really, it wasn’t as calculated as that - it was more a case of trying to incorporate the sounds and images of the things that were inspiring me at that time and over the course of the year lots of different things inspired me. So they have bled into the music. The way I view making music is more of a document of the things you're into at the time.

How then do you think it differs from your earlier solo work?

Well I think this EP is slightly more melancholic in tone than The Boxer record. To me The Boxer feels very jubilant and euphoric because it was a very euphoric kind of time; I had so much energy I wanted to get out. The Hunter sounds more studied and more melancholic. I don’t know why but it feels like a more contemplative record than The Boxer.

You brought a whole lot of collaborators on for the EP. What made you want to collaborate with so many different people?

I enjoy the idea of collaborating because you never know how someone is going to make you re-appraise you own work and that’s the exciting thing about collaborating; everyone has a different opinion about where they stand and so I thought why not keep trying different producers; everyone’s going to have a different opinion and I’m not afraid of that.

Was there a particular collaborative moment on the album that you’re most proud of?

The track that I think I’m most proud of on the record is this track called 'Cable Song' and that was the only track on the record that I did entirely myself. There was no input from anyone else and to me it sounds kind of frail but I’m very proud that I was able to do that. It’s made me feel a lot more confident about approaching things by myself in the future.

You were in bands obviously before you became a solo artist. How does it feel being out on your own compared to being in a band?

I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to reach people as a solo artist because I wasn't completely unknown to start with. I think a lot of people who have been into what I’ve been doing have heard Bloc Part and wanted to check out what I’ve been doing, so I feel very privileged that there’s somewhat of an audience there, because it’s hard in this day and age to get people interested in what you do. How does it feel versus being in a band? It doesn’t feel very different at all. I think making the records felt different because it was just me working with producers. At the end of the day touring's the same; different people with different personalities and different character traits.

I read somewhere that Bloc Party was working on a new album, is that hearsay?

That’s total hearsay.

Can you see Bloc Party ever getting back together?

You know at this stage we’re all kind of busy doing our own thing. At some point I think our paths will cross but right now we don’t really have any plans to work together.

What are your future plans looking forward to 2012?

Well I’m writing a book at the moment and that’s what I’m trying to finish. That’s also why I’m here in New York - that’s my biggest priority - I need to finish it before the end of the month so I’m focusing on that.

Tell me a little bit about this book.

It’s a collection of short stories, I’ve been writing them since 2009 and I needed to finish them by early 2012, so I decided to go to New York for six months and not do anything. Unfortunately I’ve been still promoting The Boxer and putting out The Hunter so I still had commitments so I’ve not been able to commit as much time as I would have liked but I’m getting quite serious about it now.

What sort of themes or ideas do you explore in your writing?

I donno, themes or ideas are something that will come once it’s finished and I can see what the body of work is. Right now it’s just disparate ideas that are all kind of based around how people interact in New York I guess. That’s something that underpins every story I think.

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