Kele Okereke

Kele Okereke

Kele Okereke in 2009
Background information
Birth name Kelechukwu Rowland Okereke
Born (1981-10-13) 13 October 1981
Liverpool, England
Origin London, England
Occupation(s) Musician
Years active 2002–present
Associated acts
Notable instruments

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

Early life

Okereke was born to Roman Catholic Igbo Nigerian parents in Liverpool, England on 13 October 1981.[3] His mother was a midwife, and his father a molecular biologist. He grew up in London with his sister. As a child, he went to school at Ilford County High School (where he was known as Rowly), but switched to Trinity Catholic High School, Woodford Green for sixth form at age 16. He lived in Bethnal Green, and in 1998 he became friends with a student of nearby Bancroft's School, Russell Lissack, who would become Bloc Party's guitarist. A year later, while studying English Literature at King's College London, Okereke met Lissack again at Reading Festival, where the band was officially formed under the title of 'The Angel Range'. In 2001, Okereke moved out of his parents' home. He went on to meet Gordon Moakes and Matt Tong who became the band's permanent bass guitarist and drummer, respectively. In 2003, the band changed its name to Bloc Party after briefly being called Union.

Music career

Bloc Party

Main article: Bloc Party

In 2005, Bloc Party released their first studio album, titled Silent Alarm. The album reached number three in the UK charts, 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 Official UK 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.[4]

Okereke made a guest appearance on Tiësto's song "It's Not the Things You Say"[5] 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.

Solo career

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."[6] The first single from the album, "Tenderoni", was released on 14 June 2010.[7]

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.[8][9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

Personal life

Okereke is extremely shy.[12] He has expressed disdain for interviews, asking one interviewer from Skyscraper magazine, "Why is it important to know what I had for breakfast? Or who I went to bed with? Or what sneakers I am wearing? If it's relevant to understanding my music, then so be it. But if it's purely to satisfy the media's obsession with celebrity, then no thanks. I don't want to play that game."[13] The focus of one interview with NME in July 2005 was largely to do with his dislike of being interviewed. In it he implied that the media placed deliberate emphasis on conflicts between bands and did not want to be drawn into such publicity, saying that "public feuding between bands is completely pointless."[14] Okereke has also said, "people think that I hate being approached but that's not true" in NME on 15 September 2005.

In March 2010 Okereke came out as gay in a BUTT magazine article,[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18]

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."[19]


Feud with Oasis

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."[20] Ironically, when Oasis cancelled their headlining set at the Rock-en-Seine festival near Paris in August 2009 (the concert where the Gallagher brothers clashed backstage, which resulted in Oasis splitting up), it was Okereke who announced to the crowd that Oasis had cancelled their slot during Bloc Party's set, sarcastically declaring the breakup to be a shame. He dedicated their track "Mercury" to the Oasis fans "who really, really wanted to see those inbred twins," referring to the Gallagher brothers after announcing to the crowd "so I guess by default, we are headlining!"[21]


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".[22]



Year Album details Peak chart positions



2010 The Boxer 20 2 35 71 41 89 174 42 98
2014 Trick
  • Released: 13 October 2014
  • Label: Lilac Records
99 9 92


Year Album details Peak chart positions
2011 The Hunter 79
2013 Heartbreaker
  • Released: 25 November 2013[32]
  • Label: Crosstown Rebels
2014 Candy Flip
  • Released: 31 March 2014
  • Label: Crosstown Rebels


Year Song Chart positions Album
2010 "Tenderoni" 31 6 63 58 4 14 The Boxer
"Everything You Wanted" 93 17[37]
"On the Lam"
2011 "What Did I Do?" 83 The Hunter
2014 "Doubt" Trick

Musical equipment used

The following is a list of equipment used by Okereke.


Effects pedals:

Used To Manipulate Voice


Cultural Influence

Online code school Bloc offers an optional API programming project called "Kele", named after Kele Okereke.[38]


  1. "Bloc Party plot new Move". Clash. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  2. "Interview with Matt and Kele at Planeta Terra Festival". Retrieved 19 March 2009.
  3. "Biko". Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  4. "Backstage – Berlin Musik". 31 October 2008. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  5. Dombal, Ryan (4 August 2009). "Sigur Rós's Jónsi, Bloc Party's Kele Okereke on New Tiësto Album". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  6. Harper, Kate (28 June 2010). "Kele Okereke Relies On Himself for The Boxer". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  7. "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke working on solo album". NME. 4 November 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  8. "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke to release new solo EP". NME. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  9. "Kele releases The Hunter EP". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  10. Sub Focus 'Turn It Around' ft Kele (Radio Rip). YouTube. 22 July 2013.
  11. "Bloc Party Frontman Announces Solo LP as Kele". 23 July 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  12. McLean, Craig (7 January 2007). "21st-century boy". The Observer. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  13. Blackman, Guy (17 July 2005). "Preciously private". The Age. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  14. "Hot Beef: Bloc Party vs. Art Brut". Spin. 2 August 2005. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  15. "Bloc Party's Kele on coming out to his parents". Pink News. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  16. McLean, Craig (7 January 2007). "Kele Okereke: 21st-century boy". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 August 2008.
  17. "top 20 sexiest gay male musicians". LP33. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  18. "Exclaim! Music".
  19. Fleischer, Norman. "Interview: Kele Okereke – 'The opportunity for rebirth'". NBHAP. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  20. Swash, Rosie (29 March 2007). "Bloc Party attacks Oasis with thesaurus". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  21. "Footage of Bloc Party announcing Oasis split onstage in Paris emerges – video". NME. 1 September 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  22. "Bloc Party: Ultra-violence and hedonism have fuelled this album". NME. 17 August 2006.
  23. "2010 Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive: 3rd July 2010". Official Charts Company. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  24. "2010 Top 40 Dance Albums Archive: 3rd July 2010". Official Charts Company. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  25. "Kele – The Boxer (Album)". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  26. "Kele – The Boxer". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  27. "Kele – The Boxer". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  28. "Kele – The Boxer". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  29. "Kele – The Boxer". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  30. "Discography Kele Okereke". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  31. "Kele – The Boxer". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  33. "Kele". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  34. "Kele – Tenderoni". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  35. "Kele – Tenderoni". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  36. "Kele – Tenderoni". Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  37. "2010 Top 40 Dance Singles Archive: 28 August 2010". Official Charts Company. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2011.
  38. "Bloc". Retrieved 28 April 2016.
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