born on 13/10/1981 in Liverpool, North West England, United Kingdom

Alias Kele Okereke
Kelechukwu Rowland "Kele" Okereke

Kele Okereke

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Kele Okereke
Birth name Kelechukwu Rowland Okereke [1]
Born October 13 1981
Origin Liverpool, England
Genres Alternative Rock
Post-punk revival
Electro House
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2002present
Labels Wichita
Associated acts Bloc Party
Notable instruments
Fender Telecaster
Gretsch Tennessee Rose

Kelechukwu "Kele" Rowland Okereke (pronounced O-kay-ray-kay) (born 13 October 1981) is a British musician, best known as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the alternative rock band Bloc Party.[2]


Early life

Okereke was born in Liverpool to Catholic Igbo Nigerian parents.[3] His mother was a midwife, and his father a molecular biologist. He grew up in London with his one 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 his band's guitarist. A year later, while studying 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.

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 #12 in the Billboard 200 with 48,000 copies sold, and reached the #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 November 22, 2006. It reached #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 USA. The album was produced by Jacknife Lee.

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 digital 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.

The band are currently on hiatus as of 31 October 2009.

Okereke moved to Berlin to seize the city's music oriented spirit.[4]

Kele makes a guest appearance on Tiësto's song "It's Not the Things You Say"[5] on his new album Kaleidoscope, released October 6, 2009.

Solo album

Kele released his first solo album, titled The Boxer, produced by XXXChange, on 21 June through Wichita / Polydor in the UK and Europe and Glassnote Records for the rest of the world. In an interview with CHARTattack, 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]

Personal life

Okereke is extremely shy.[8] 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."[9] The focus of one interview with the 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." 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,[10] and he then gave an interview and appeared on the front cover of the June 2010 issue of Attitude magazine.[11] 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.[12] He also discussed the homoerotic story behind his song "I Still Remember" and the semi-autobiographical nature of it. In June 2010 Kele was named as the Sexiest Out Gay Male Artist by music website LP33 in its annual survey.[13]

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.[14] His role in Bloc Party is still unclear following negative comments he has made about the band. He has played down rumors of his intention to leave the band.


As a songwriter, Okereke's approach is somewhat unconventional. His lyrics on Bloc Party's debut album Silent Alarm are more in line with other very private, mysterious frontmen such as Michael Stipe of R.E.M., or Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. "Helicopter", for instance is a song some believe is addressed to George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. It has the lyrics: "North to south, empty, running on, bravado... He's gonna save the world... Just like his Dad... (the same mistakes), Some things will never be different... Are you hoping for a miracle? (It's not enough)" In response to this issue, Okereke said in an interview, "'Helicopter' isn't about Bush; it's a song about waking up and realizing certain things. I hope what people got from that song wasn't a critique of American life. I got really worried when I started reading our message boards; there was an American who had read the lyrics of "Helicopter" and had come to the conclusion that we were advocating that the European way is the ideal. But that wasn't it at all. Europeans have their own set of problems.

Nonetheless, for the second album A Weekend in the City, he 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".[15]

Okereke criticized Green Day in the NME for "riding on this public sentiment of anti-Americanism among teens across the world." He further said that, "it just seems to be the emptiest of soundbites, and that's something we're always conscious of trying to avoid." In reference to these Green Day fans he said that "being confronted by how stupid and blinkered western teenagers are," made him angry. To change this, he said he was "trying to provide an alternative, by trying to provide an oasis for kids who are disenfranchised, by doing something different as a band.

Okereke also 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."[16] 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 Kele that announced to the crowd that Oasis had cancelled their slot and dedicated their track "Mercury" to the Oasis fans in the crowd, referring to the Gallagher brothers as "those inbred twins." [17]

On August 21, 2008, Bloc Party released their third studio album "Intimacy", this album is far more introverted than any of Bloc Party's previous efforts. The album deals with a huge breakup that Okereke dealt with at the end of 2007, some of the songs like "Biko" and "Signs" deal with the loss of people that were close to Okereke.


See also: Bloc Party discography


Year Album details Peak chart positions[18]
2010 The Boxer
  • Released: 21 June 2010
  • Label: Wichita Recordings
20 35 71 41 98 42


Year Song Chart positions Album
2010 "Tenderoni" 31 6 58 10 17 The Boxer
"Everything You Wanted" 93 36

Featured singles

  • "Believe" with The Chemical Brothers (2005)

Musical equipment used

The following is a list of equipment used by Kele Okereke.


  • Fender Telecaster Three Tone Sunburst
  • Fender Telecaster Butterscotch Blonde
  • Fender Telecaster - Cherry Red (Seen at Bristol in October 2009)
  • Gretsch Tennessee Rose Cherry Red
  • Fender Performer Sunburst (Used in the videos for "Helicopter" and "Little Thoughts")
  • Fender Telecaster Thinline Natural (Used in the early days of the band circa 2003)
  • Rickenbacker 620 - presumed to be in Black (Seen in the original video for "Banquet")

Effects pedals:

  • Ernie Ball Volume Pedal
  • BOSS LS-2 Line Selector x2
  • Boss DF-2 Super Feedbacker Distortion
  • Boss ODB-3 Bass OverDrive
  • Boss OC-3 Super Ocatave
  • Boss SYB-3 Bass Synthesiser
  • Line 6 DL-4 Delay Modeller
  • Line 6 FM-4 Filter Modeller
  • BOSS TU-2 Tuner.
  • BOSS DD-3 Digital Delay.
  • Arion SAD-1 Analogue Delay
  • Boss RC-20XL Loop Station

Used To Manipulate Voice

  • Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeller
  • BOSS PS-5 Super Shifter


  • Fender Hot Rod Deluxe
  • Fender Hot Rod DeVille - Seen used live as a backup amplifier
  • Both used with a THD Hot Plate attenuator


  1. BMI | Repertoire Search
  2. Interview with Matt and Kele at Planeta Terra Festival. Retrieved on 2009-03-19.
  3. Biko. Retrieved on 2009-01-06.
  6. Kele Okereke Relies On Himself for The Boxer
  7. Bloc Party's Kele Okereke working on solo album
  8. McLean, Craig, 21st-century boy, The Observer, 7 January 2007. URL accessed on 7 May 2010.
  9. Blackman, Guy (2005-07-17). Preciously private. The Age. Retrieved on 2009-02-01.
  10. Bloc Party's Kele on coming out to his parents. Pink News (2010-03-12). Retrieved on 2010-03-16.
  12. McLean, Craig, Kele Okereke: 21st-century boy, The Guardian, 2007-01-07. URL accessed on 2008-08-05.
  13. top 20 sexiest gay male musicians. LP33. Retrieved on 2010-06-25.
  15. Bloc Party: Ultra-violence and hedonism have fuelled this album, NME, 2006-08-17.
  16. Swash, Rosie, Bloc Party attacks Oasis with thesaurus, The Guardian, 2007-03-29. URL accessed on 7 May 2010.
  17. Footage of Bloc Party announcing Oasis split onstage in Paris emerges - video

External links

  • Official website
  • Kele Okereke at MySpace
  • Daily Music Guide review of Tenderoni
  • Questionnaire Bloc Party's Kele Okereke
This page was last modified 25.09.2010 22:35:57

This article uses material from the article Kele Okereke from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.