Thursday, September 2
6:30pm
9:30 Club
Washington, DC

Born 13.10. 81, Kele Okereke hails from Bethnal Green in East London, though his parents emigrated from Nigeria to England before he was born. In his youth, Kele listened to a wide range of contemporary music, from hip-hop to pop and everything in-between. In fact, it was the youthful rap act Kris Kross’s 1992 Top of the Pops performance that motivated Kele to explore music! His sister owned a guitar, so Kele would borrow her instrument to learn to play and eventually compose his own material. Kele’s receptivity to many different music genres influenced his songwriting technique and allowed his songs to defy categorisation. However, he would need others with a common vision in order to go forward in his endeavours. Kele first met Russell Lissack in 1998 in Essex, where Russell had grown up and Kele attended school. However, it would not be until the next year’s Reading Festival that the two would reunite and vow to assemble a band. They both honed their individual guitar styles, whilst Kele also focused on improving his singing by receiving vocal coaching. Although he feels that the coaching ultimately helped him, Kele chose to sing in the fashion he saw best fit the songs that he and Russell had composed. As such, Kele’s distinctive vocal delivery is probably the most recognisable element of the Bloc Party sound. Kele and Russell placed advertisements in various music journals whilst Kele studied English literature at King’s College in London. They drafted in Gordon Moakes after auditioning numerous bassists, but the lack of a permanent drummer slowed the progress of the band. Eventually, Kele asked an acquaintance if he would try out for them. Before long, Matt Tong provided the vitality that gave the band new life. The band now felt like more than a mere hobby to Kele and so he abandoned his studies, even though he was close to graduating. Kele writes most of the lyrics for Bloc Party songs. Many of his lyrics speak for themselves, whilst some contain cryptic imagery, the meanings of which remain personal to Kele. Kele’s shy demeanour makes him a refreshingly humble frontman. When in the glare of the media, Kele is quiet and reserved, shrugging off the spotlight rather than hogging it. As a result of this, he has gained a reputation as being an awkward interviewee. Those who have met him in person, however, will tell you that Kele is a modest, gentle person who has a clear vision for the future of Bloc Party.

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