Kele Okereke: “I’ve never experienced such widespread public racism” - NME
Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke opens up about Brexit Britain, Brandon Flowers' comments on Morrissey, the artists failing to fight far right rhetoric, and his ambitious new album '2042'
“This idea of a multi-cultural Britain, that there is now somehow resistance towards it, is something that I’ve never experienced in my life [until] now,” he continues. “And it’s not just the politicians and the media. It’s the artists too.” With the exception, he says, of artists like Slowthai, Idles and Billy Bragg who are continually questioning and holding discrimination to account, too many are complicit – many more, he says, are even encouraging it.
“I think of the comments that Morrissey recently made and his support for Britain First. It’s clear to me that there is an idea of Britain and Britishness that is supposed to exclude people who are non-white and this idea is becoming more and more prominent.
“As a black musician who was born in the UK and who lives in the UK, I found it very disheartening that none of my peers really came out to publicly counter Morrissey’s recent comments and behaviour. I found that personally quite dispiriting and even worse, the only comments by musicians seemed to be in support of him – like Brandon Flowers.” Ahead of The Killers headline set at Glastonbury, Flowers told NME that Morrissey was “still a king” despite his problematic political views.
“Brandon Flowers is basically saying it doesn’t matter what Morrissey says, he’s still a revered icon,” Okereke tells us. “I think that’s bullshit and I think Brandon Flowers is bullshit. It does matter. It absolutely matters what people say and the fact that no one is willing to challenge him on this to me is quite disgusting. Shame on him and shame on Morrissey.”