Kele Okereke

TMN: Thank you so much for taking some time to answer a few questions for us today. Let’s kick things off by talking about the new LP, Trick, which can be looked at as a return to your house influences. This album was actually started while you were touring with Bloc Party in support of your album Four, correct?

Kele: Yes, I started working on the music whilst we were touring in 2012. FOUR was a very abrasive record so sonically it was good for me to be able to experience something a little different during that time.

TMN: Talk to us about the difficulties in the creative process in switching from the intensity of tunes like “3×3” to something like laid back and rhythmic like “Coasting.”

Kele: Well I’m a libra so I’ve never found it difficult to be in two different headspaces at the same time, if anything i actually find it quite enjoyable enduring two opposing disciplines at the same time; they kinda cancel each other out.

TMN: Speaking of “Coasting” it has such a lush, tribal feel to it. In our mind, your falsetto in this tune is why we think it’s one of the best in the industry. What was the creative approach to this song? Did you come with the lyrics/vocal progression first, or did you lay down the instrumentals first?

Kele: I laid down the initial idea with just a voice and a piano, a little guitar work. to me the song felt so joyous, like the start of something hopeful. i wanted the music to reflect that optimistic nature of the lyrics, something light that, skipped almost.

TMN: One of our favorites was definitely the lead track, “First Impressions.” The harmonies are simply perfect for that light, loungey house background. Who’s the female vocalist that’s on the track with you?

Kele: The vocalist is a Yasmin Shahmir an amazing british soul/rnb singer that I’ve liked for a long time. it was a real pleasure to work with her.

TMN: We’ve noticed a shift in the industry, finding more and more artists focusing on both new-style electronic RnB, and classic RnB. In fact, we even have a weekly playlist called Sunday Night Soul that highlights the best from the previous week. What are your thoughts of this genres return to the spotlight?

Kele: I first encountered r’n’b from my sisters record collection as a teen. Jodeci, TLC and Total were always playing in her room. There was a sensuality to 90’s rob that has seemingly been lost from todays r’n’b acts, so it’s nice for me to hear it returning, albeit in a new r’n’b’s spacious mutated form.

TMN: Talk to us about some of the other collaborations on this album. Are there any special mentions we should know about?

Kele: Yes on ‘Closer’ I worked with the amazing Jodie Scantlebury, who sang on a track from the Boxer called ‘New Rules’. I love her tone. It was a pleasure to work with her again.

TMN: So, there are no official tour dates to support Trick, but you do have plans to bring this to people in a live format, correct? What can people expect from your upcoming live shows?

Kele: It looks like i might be getting over to the states next year but right now I’m performing with a DJ and VJ. I wanted to get rid of the band dynamic. It’s been a challenge, but it’s been fun because I’ve always wanted to incorporate something more visual onstage and this is the perfect opportunity.

TMN: With such a diverse musical spectrum of talents, we have to imagine that your influences are all over the place from post-punk to Motown. Can you share some of those with us?

Well i don’t really know what to say. I tend to obsess over music to a point and then I get very bored of that same music. It’s kinda nice but it’s kinda frustrating. I feel like if I hear it again i might explode, that’s what I get like. Right now I’m OD’ing on Adam Beyer and the “Red Shoes” by Kate Bush.

TMN: Well, we will spare the questions about Bloc Party, because we know they’ve been asked so many times, however, we do want to ask you a few random, non-music related questions. Let’s kick it off with one of our favs – what was your first job?

My first job was being a contract washing up person in Essex. I did it for a whole summer but then I had to give it up. The work was fine, but you kept being moved to different places, so it was hard to meet people and human relationships are what make working relationships bearable.

TMN: If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?

As I said, I get bored very easily, but right now it would be brown stew chicken and rice and peas from a True Flavours on Acre Lane in Brixton. mmmm

TMN: You’re heading to a deserted island, and can only bring one possession and one person, what and whom would be going with you?

I would bring my thinline telecaster because it would be easy to carry and as its hollowed bodied. It doubles up as an acoustic guitar…they probably won’t have an amp on this desert island would they? Then i would bring my 9-month british bulldog Olive.

TMN: What was the first album you ever bought?

“Blue” by Weezer. I remember being disappointed because I’d bought the wrong thing, but over the following weeks I came to love that record. It was a happy accident.

TMN: If your music were an animal, what would it be?

It would be a zebra – 2 colours in opposition

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