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Interview: Kele Okereke – ‘The opportunity for rebirth’

Kele Okereke talks about his current state as house music producer, exploring new artistic fields and the odds of a BLOC PARTY reunion.
Norman Fleischer April 7, 2014

Kele Okereke 2014 620x413 Interview: Kele Okereke   The opportunity for rebirthChange lies within the nature of every artist. Or at least it should. Constantly discovering new territories is one of the motors of KELE OKEREKE. Ever since his main band BLOC PARTY surfaced in the music scene ten years ago he’s always interested in exploring new artistic environments. BLOC PARTY combined rock and electronica in a symbiotic way more than once, in 2010 he released a solo album and also started collaborating with big electronic music players like TIESTO or MARTIN SOLVEIG. Ever since BLOC PARTY more or less parted ways last summer (resulting in a quite uncertain future) Mr. OKEREKE changed the sides and continiously worked on his producing and DJ skills. After a first compilation – Tapes – back last autumn he released material on influential electronic label Crosstown Rebels. His latest EP Candy Flip is about to get released on April 14.

Why choosing this path? Because he can and it keeps him hungry. And while die-hard BLOC PARTY fans won’t like the lack of information on the band in the following answers of the musician it helps to understand his motivation. It’s the idea of creative rebirth that drives KELE OKEREKE. And you can decide for yourself if you want to follow him or not.

 

Since last year you’re very keen on exploring the depths of house music production. At which point of the journey do you see yourself at the moment? Are you still learning? 
Yes I’m still learning. I’m further along than when I started but I dont think the journey ever ends. There is always more to learn, I think that’s why I am throwing myself into it so much these days. It’s like another world for me.

 

What was your main intention of switching roles – from a performing frontman to a producer? 
It dawned on me that after 10 years of doing this I knew enough about the process to switch it up. It’s very liberating to be involved in making music but for it not to be about your personality.

 

House music is a pretty big thing at the moment. Aren’t there already too many fish in the sea?
Indeed, in a commercial sense house music is a big thing right now. But that’s not really the area of house that I am interested in. In this world there will always be small communities that are more underground and that’s what resonates with me more.

 

Crosstown Rebels is an institution in terms of electronic music. How does it feel to be part of such a company? 
I really couldn’t believe it when my manager told me crosstown were interested. They have released some of the most iconic and important dance music of recent years. So it’s really an honour to be included on that roster.

 

Can you name your top three tracks that are essential for every DJ-set at the moment?
Yes, sure. These three ones.

1. HUXLEY AND SHENODA – I Don’t Know

2. JULIO BASHMOREChazm

3.JOHN TEJADA - Sweat On The Walls

Do you still remember the first record that got you into house music? 
Higher States of Consciousness by JOSH WINK was the first dance track I remember noticing during my teens. There was something so brutal about it, a relentless assault on the senses.

 

Speaking from your experience – what are the main differences between DJing and performing as frontman of a rock band?
I find it’s not so different; you stand at the front of the stage and you entertain a room or a field full of people. You are very much the focus, the conduit of a kind of energy that is hard to explain but very tangible. You are taking people on a journey and you know when you have their attention as you can feel that they are hanging on your every word.

 

Kele Okereke Press 2014 300x449 Interview: Kele Okereke   The opportunity for rebirthLike your last one your new EP ‘Candy Flip’ drops via Crosstown Rebels. What musical plans do you have beyond that? A full album or rather more EP’s? 
I’m doing a few more EP’s for them and then im working on producing some music for an incredible young female vocalist. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this so im very excited.

 

In the past you also thought about writing a novel. Is this still in the pipeline or do you follow other artistic paths? 
It’s still bubbling away, I haven’t had much time to work on it as I’ve been doing music pretty solidly, but I want to get back into it before the end of the year. I’m actually writing a screenplay with a friend of mine at the moment.

 

It might be a bit too early to ask for a comeback of BLOC PARTY but how are the odds? Is the plan to have no plan at all? 
If I’m honest I have literally no idea whats happening with the band. I’ve been speaking to Russell, he’s just had a baby so I think he’s going to be out of action for a while.

 

Since you first appeared in the music industry with BLOC PARTY ten years ago – how much have certain aspects changed for you? Any advice you would give 23-year-old Kele? 
Although I feel my attitudes have changed I dont think I have any particularly prescient advice to give a 23 year old Kele. There isn’t anything I regret or that I wished I’d have done differently. I guess I would say: ‘Live these days to the fullest as they won’t come round again’.

 

In terms of our magazine’s name – how hopeful and passionate are you at the moment and about your personal and musical future in general?
I’m 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.

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