Kele, Bloc Party Interview (Bit of Moz Content)

Hi all.

Here's an interview, someone put up on Bloc Party Forum (I copied and pasted it), with Kele from Bloc Party in Attitude Magazine. He mentions Morrissey, not surprisingly in connection with sexuality. I think he's being a bit hypocritical in his criticism of Morrissey, considering he is equally vague about his sexuality, but nevermind...


PART ONE OF THE INTERVIEW (I apoglise for grammar & spelling mistakes)

Kele Okereke is hungover, mightily. He mutters something about two bottles of vodka, shared while helping out at a DJ gig with his band mate Russell Lissack, at the universty of Loughborough last night. That sounds like a lot of vodka "It was!" he says, rubbing his sore head.
If there is a sense of nervousness about the Bloc Party singer doing an Attitude interview, it isn't without reason. When the press tired of asking the race question (What does it feel like being a black man being in a rock group?) which shadowed him for most of the promotional circus around the release of the group's first million selling record "Silent Alarm", Q magazine brought up the issue of his sexuality. Kele dealt with it with a complicated mix of aversion, privacy and discomfort and the resulting piece was a spiky read. It left him looking like a tricky customer, though the truth is rather plainer than that. Kele is shy. And shy people mostly baulk at the idea of discussing their personal details in public places.
Fittingly, we meet him in a bar of a recording studio in East London. After brief stints as an infant in Liverpool and Edinborough, Kele was East end bread. He still lives here and can often been seen wandering through the streets of the area in an overcoat and battered Converse Allstars, or propping up the bar at one of its less gilded boozers. Kele can sometimes look a little sullen, glum even, as many can who carry an air of thoughtful intensity and shyness about them. He has a contradiction at his heart that you can see in the slightly awkward way he presents himself, both on and off stage. It is part of what makes him one part fuck you defiance. He has a stammer which grows with nerves, though disappears when sings. Some of this might go some way to explaining the previous evening's vodka measures.
Bloc Party have just released their second album, A weekend in the city, to a round of critical garlands. It's a clever, driven, forceful and very modern record, more emotionally guided than their debut. "Its Honest" begins Kele, by a way of direct explaination.

Is A Weekend in the city a more emotional record than Silent Alarm

Yes it is. The songs that still live with me from the first record are the songs with a real sense of honesty to them. That was in the back of my mind when I was writing A weekend in the city. I wanted to make a document of the way that I was thinking and feeling at this moment.

What makes you write a song?

It tends to be other music, actually. You hear something that sounds like nothing you've heard before and you want to try and break it down. Whenever i hear a song by a guitar band on the radio these days my first thought is "We could do something so much better than this" Everyone seems to follow the same set of rules and influences. Whereas we'll put on something like a Nelly Furtado record, and analyse the way it's constructed. I heard an amazing song called afraid by her. It's almost DJ Shadow- esque. That to me is far more exciting than the Kooks or Razorlight. Theres something about it that is slightly over worldly. The music that's always resonated with me tends to have a kind of fantastical quality to it. Listening to it transports you into a different place, like Kate Bush or Bjork. You're required to make an investment with the music and that what we've always aimed for.

Rufus Wainwright says that Kate Bush is one of the onlyy people who can make being an outsider feel like the best to be. Isn't that amazing?

Yeah thats perfect. Shes one of the only two artists who are really fascinatingly interesting that have also been hugely successful in the mainstream.

Who would you say the other one is?

Queen, I was listening to A Night At The Opera and Sheer Heart Attack, when we were making this record. Everyone harks on about the Beatles but i think that what Queen could do musically was so much more impressive to me.

What about Freddie as a person

Freddie's sexuality probably lead to them being written up as some sort of a gimmick. They aren't taken as seriously as they should be. I'm amazed that the gay community haven't made more of him. He was a fantastic songwriter that took the gay experience to a lot of different places while doing something fundamentally interesting with rock music. He gave it a sense of humour.

He also feminised it by being super masculine, which was kind of brilliant contradiction, no?

Absoulutely. I mean, its very idiosyncratic that this supercamp character was taken in by the straight masses. You couldn't predict that that would happen or a mass level.
I guess it was a different era, though.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Liverpool, we moved to Scotland then I grew up in east london. I moved here when i was 8 years old. I can't really remember anything from before then.

Have you got brothers and sisters?

A sister; one year older. She's a teacher. She has a more admirable and honourable profession than me! The upbringing of the young people of this country is of paramount importance and its amazing that there isn't more money put into it. To paraphrase Whitney, the children are our future.

PART TWO (Again apoligises for mistakes)

When were your first sexual awakenings?


I guess when i was about 14. I always -crumbs- had girlfriends but I was always aware that there was something else. I think bisexuality in this society is percieved in a really odd way. There seems to be a real gender difference. I was in a pub the other day with the girlfriend of a friend;. She was asking us about our sexuality and we were asking her and- even though sshes a heterosexual woman- she finds herself having sex with girls sometimes, if she finds them attractive. It seems to be encouraged for women to explore or be seen to be exploring their sexuality.

But lesbianism is something that is titillating for straight men in a way that homosexuality isn't surely?

It's seen as an empowering thing to do, too. It makes women seem cooloer or somehow more adventurous. You can see it with someone like Angelina Jolie. Yet with guys it's seen as a very emasculating thing to admit that you could find the male image desirable at all.

Do you think that is fundamnetally a lie?

Yes, i think it is. Look at it historically. Whole societes were based on the admission of bisexuality. Even in our generation you see men being conditioned to be bisexually responsive. Just look at the way the male image is used in adverts, or pop videos, or billboards. That isn't just titillating for women.

James Bond is a great example It's being marketed in the most homo-erotic manner, with an image of Daniel Craig in his pants aimed directly at straight men.

That's excatly what i mean, If you look at most heterosexual porn you see the guys with huge cocks and defined bodies fucking these girls- there's a definately a bisexual impluse going on there. But i dont think that many people are very comfortable to talk about it. It just seems like an odd double-standard.

Can you remember a male image that had effect on you?

There were some... it wasn't particurlarly an image. It was more about developing crushes on friends, as I think a lot of people do. Theres a song called "I Still Remember" on our next record that is trying to specifically address that.

Everyone's been through it

Yes, and it isn't especially about boys that end up being gay. A lot of my straight male friends have said to me when they were younger they had this...

Romantic Friendships?

Yeah.

How do you feel about a group like Franz Ferdinand playing with that idea on Michael? Is there something a bit opportunistic about it?

Michael is actually one of the reasons I wanted to write I Still Remember. That song seemed to take a really shallow, glib idea of what feelings are and I wanted to make something that had a truer sense of desperation and longing to it. Lots of young people will know that feeling, they will know completely what it is to reach over and touch someone and not really be able to. I read a collection of poems of Walt Whitmen and the way that he infuses everything with this same sex desire and melancholy seemed so powerful to me. I wanted to touch on something that went to these places.

Your Stammer is really sweet, Theres something very affecting about hearing someone battle to communicate, especially when they have something to say..

Actually, it does warm me when I hear it in other people.

Do you know where it comes from?

No, I've had it for as long as I can remember. I had speech therarpy lessons when i was younger but they just dovacated that I take deep breaths and because certaimn phonetic sounds are harder than others they'd concentrate on those. It gets worse the more nervous I am.

Does it feed into the performance at all?

Not really. Im just like Gareth Gates [laughs] ................
 
......Does it suprise you, like given your natural self-consciousness, that you're a popstar?

I dont really use the term "popstar" It's got a touch of S Club about it. I guess it's pop music in the sense that its something that people are taking into their lives and discussing and I dont make the mistinction in terms of rock star, you know?

Is the difficult word "star" for you?

Yeah, yeah. Of course it is.

Do you feel the whole sexuality issue mired the publicity arouned your first record?

I've never been confident about doing interviews. I've never particually enjoyed the way that an interview will foreground an artist's personality over what they've actually created. But you have to do them and my nervousness about them always interpreted as a sense of aloofness. There was that interview with Q where they were trying to discuss my sexuality and my reaction was that it was my private life. I didn't want to talk about it in a music magazine because it had nothing to do with the songs that I had written at that time. I just didn't see why it was important to the things that I've created.

But you were in a unique position in pop culture and, whilst it might not be interesting to you, it is to a journalist and almost certainly to your fans too..

Yeah i see that. And thats why i wanted to do this. And it's one of the reasons that I was always quite criticial of Morrisey. His lack of transparency on his sexuality, which seemed so obvious to me, made him seem almost frightened of it. But I do respect the fact that it is personal to him.

It may be personal, but the accidental repercussion of closeted popstars- whether they are Morrisey or someone in a boyband- is that they encourage homosexuality to be associated with shame

Yeah thats true

Freddie Mercury was no saint in this matter either

No he wasn't, but it was another time and place.

Sylvester did it, and he was black and gay

But he wasn't "rock". You have to remember that there is a sense of homophobia to an awful lot of the mainstream press here still. In that article that i was talking about.

Did you find it homophobic?

Yes i did. What i thought was, what is the message that this is sending out to young people? That it's something to be ashamed of and has to be dragged out of someone. Wait a minute, what bothered me was that the interviewer didnt actually ask me any direct questions. He asked me about the song This Modern Love and asked me whether it was about a girl, which it was, and they didn't put that in and I thought it was very ugly. The way the piece was shaped was just like a tabloid.

Do you think that the "them and us" attitude prevails in the media around homosexuality? If you read most mainstream media pieces with Scissor Sisters, they may aswell be interviewing Larry Grayson

Of course it does, It's the same across all media. Which is why, you know, you can see why I might be hesitant to discuss something like my sexuality in an enviroment like that. You can see why i might be hesitant about discussing my private life in that kind of forum. I dont want people to think that it's something that I am ashamed of, because Im not, but the given the way that the mainstream music media works I wouldn't be confident talking about something without fear of it being reduced to sensaltionalism. When all those pieces appeared about the colour of my skin and how interesting it was to see a black man fronting a rock group, you could see them pursuing that line of enquiry based on a prejudiced supposition.

If you wanted to encompass, in popstar form, something of the free spirited mood and abandoned bohemia of what's going on in various establishments around the East End of London in 2007, you might just have to invent Kele. Happily he did it for you at first. On A Weekend in the City, he has crystalized an internal dialogue going on in many people's minds right now. It is a noir party masterpiece. The angular rhythms, mostly inspired by the super hip hop producers of the US and left to simmer through more traditional rock mechanisms, and crunching, muscular guitars have become a backdrop for a poetic, observational treatise centring on the consequences of partying in the face of the global collaspe. Kele delievers his sermon from the mount like a man possessed. It's a fiery important work to which history should be kind. Metropolitan gay nightlife culutre has shifted in the last six years of the 21st century. The old trade cliche of pumping, topless, muscled bodies dancing into a oblivion to relentless, pouding music while on a concoction of questionable pharmaceuticals can still be seen in some of the open all hours Vauxhall underworld. But it has started to look very 90's. A new model of independent, countercultural, artsy and sometimes anarchic creativity has been injected to the East End underground gay night time, and it is this world that Kele has distilled into song.
Already you will know its opening shot, The Prayer, with its chorus that seems slyly distill a cocaine high, whilst simultaneously damning it ("Tonight make me unstoppable" You should know the rest hahaha- Lucy). One of its most distinctive songs, Sunday, opens with the line "Heavy night/it was a heavy night [etc]" and climaxes with the chorus "I love you in the morning, when you're still hungover..." There is an avuncular name check for the taunt atmosphere of unrestrained consumption at the dingy Hackney afterhours gay bar that has become accidentally central to all the odd shaped nightlife revelry going on in East London right now. The Joiners Arms, in On. As ever, it is a delight to watch a pop group who both document and should, by rights, operate in the margins of culture be given a justified moment in the spotlight.

What's interesting to me about you is that you do symbolise, whether you want to or not, a certain reconfiguration of gay culture that is happening around in the East End of London right now. You are actually symbolic of something

Really?

I think so, Even just for you to immortalise the Joiners Arms in a song

[laughs] Yeah, its just with this record I did want to make something that was really representative of where i was emotionally and where i lived geographically. East London at this moment is at a fascinating time and full of fascinating people. Partly it makes me mad living here. Partly it makes me really excited.

Do you think that literally anything goes here at the moment?

Yes, and more so than anywhere else, probably in the world, certainly in the UK. Thats why there are so many references to East London in the record. I talk about the park just in front of The George and The Dragon

The Joiners has become this slightly hideous hotbed of amazing creativity hasn't it?

Yes! That's one of the reason's it's so attractive. There isn't the artificile that you get in lots of other gay venues. But with references to the Joiners, it was a reference to a place where people go and get coked off their faces. It could have been Gary's Bar or The Old Blue Lat, it didn't necessarily have to be a gay place.

It'll become your Salford Lad's club. Fans will travel to Hoxton to have their photos taken outside that weird mustard brickwork.

[laughs] Maybe.

Are you exploring the idea of really agreesive partying that runs through the record at the moment?

Its something that I'm...Look, im no saint and i've lived in East London since my teenage years and started going to clubs here and I've seen a lot in this city. I am no saint. But i guess I've always been mildly suspicious of that hedonisitic behaviour that gos on everywhere but most notedly in gay clubs. Everyone's in the toilet snorting cocaine or K or whatever and is off their faces and I've always kind of found that a depressing image. I remember being in Trade once and there this sea of sweaty, topless bodies, all with their eyes rolling to the back of their heads, like something out of the living dead or something. It was just really sad. Everyone looking the same, right down to the haircuts. The message is that people have given up on their individuality. We're all the same. It was tragic.

Isn't one of the joys of being gay is that you're allowed to be different?

Excatly. I can see why this happening. If you grow up gay or being on the outside it must be just so comforting to move to London and find lots of other people like you. I guess you just want to feel part of something. But it is depressing when it becomes so homogenous. ............
 
..........Do you enjoy the level of success you have at the moment?

It is fine. I only really get stopped by kids who are fans and that's really nice. It would be quite frightening to be pete doherty, you know? Where everybody has an opinion on you, Fame can bring out a kind of cruelty in people.

But our relationship with fame is so weird now.

There's the big brother thing. People get incensed by behaviour on TV but in every playground and office there is the same bullying and the same tactics happening on a daily basis. That bitchiness is part of the human condition.

I want to ask something really flippant

Go for it. I think i know what you're going to ask

Do you have any gay guilty pleasures?

Um, it wasn't that. Guilty pleasures? [laughing] Like rimming or something?

I was thinking more like Kylie, actually

I'm not an inside person, I'm peripheries, if you get what i mean. I've always been really sceptical how society is constructed with all these barriers and exclusion zones. I've always been really resistant to that. That's why in the band I'm always adamant that we should look afield than making classic, traditional rock music. That's why there all always these infuluences like Nelly Furtado or Philip Glass or showtunes. Anything that fucks with the idea of what we do. In my mind there isn't a difference between Radiohead or Justin Timberlake. It's all on the same plane, which is music and melody.

We've Done Nelly. Do you like Justin's album

Sexyback was great. It's such a great, sinister pop song. It's really throwaway with this really dark, persistent, underbelly. I think Timberland's an absolute genius. Im more interested in him by the record than I am about Justin

What was the question you expected me to ask before?

I thought you were going to ask if I wanted to be on Big Brother

Do you

The thing about Big Brother is that the people who win out and the people who look good on it are the people who have a sort of dumb likeability. It is basically a format that flatters people with half a brain. If you are clever in any way then you'll come across as conniving and be demonised. I alway's remember that girl Mel From the first series who's life was made hell after she came out. People would stop her on the street and call her a bitch or whatever. Because basically, she was quite bright. So no, I dont think i'd like to be on Big Brother.

(End of Interview)
 
also, this interview is fun to read because he talks a bit about my old neighbourhood. i used to walk past joiners arms every day and i went to the George and Dragon for many drinks on many occasions :) it kind of makes me miss london :(
 

nightandday

New Member
Hi all.

Here's an interview, someone put up on Bloc Party Forum (I copied and pasted it), with Kele from Bloc Party in Attitude Magazine. He mentions Morrissey, not surprisingly in connection with sexuality. I think he's being a bit hypocritical in his criticism of Morrissey, considering he is equally vague about his sexuality, but nevermind...
It also makes him look stupid and narrow-minded. All these attempts to show himself as someone who is oh-so open-minded about sexuality and understands all its complicated aspects, blah blah blah, and then he ends up with the tired old story "Moz is a closet gay". I always thought anyone who cared to use a brain for a moment should realize that the "closet gay Moz" theory makes no bloody sense at all. But when did that ever stop people believing in something...

Nevermind... I suppose what matters is that Kele knows exactly what is the right thing to say in the Attitude magazine. Good PR.
 
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Christine

New Member
So This is just a thought, but does anyone think Kele is quite comparable is Morrissey. It's just son of immigrants, seen as outsider, shy not obvious popstar, always pulled up on one 'trait' being black (Moz miserable) , sexually ambigious lyrics, sexually ambiguous himself, interested in talking about sexuality, likes slagging off other bands, very opinionated on Gov, England etc.
 
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Sooty

New Member
I dont agree with what he says about Moz why should he tell people his sexuality, you woudnt demand someone in the street to tell you there sexuality so its really up to Morrissey if he wants to or not. I think he is quite similar to Morrissey in some ways but although Bloc Pary are good there nowhere near as good as he thinks they are.
 
L

lightupvirginmary

Guest
I find it baffling how he assumes Morrissey is gay, when the man himself has said several times that he isn't.
Have you seen the November Spawned a Monster video? :p

I think it's interesting Kele was so open to Attitude, hes very reticent to the NME etc.
 

nightandday

New Member
Have you seen the November Spawned a Monster video? :p
You're off-topic, eh? I don't see the relevance of the November Spawned a Monster to either 1) Kele, 2) Kele's interview, 3) Morrissey's sexuality. :confused: Although, Beavis and Butthead thought he was humping a rock, are you trying to say he's rockasexual? :)

I find it funny that Kele comes off as so open-minded about sexuality, he understands that not everything is black and white, he says straight men may fall in love with men and straight women may have sex with women, etc. etc... But then, lo and behold, Morrissey's sexuality is "obvious" to Kele, apparently he knows more about it than Morrissey himself! Well, isn't it wonderful that everybody's sexuality is so complicated, with the exception of Morrissey - apparently, his is so simple, clear-cut and obvious!! :p
 

moz'art girl

oh la la
Why does he inflict us his views on sexuality? He is a musician, so why would I be interested in his sexuality? What is the link with music? He should let Morissey alone and mind his own business...
 

nightandday

New Member
Why does he inflict us his views on sexuality? He is a musician, so why would I be interested in his sexuality?
Because it was an interview for a gay magazine (Attitude). So it's not surprising that he felt compelled to elaborate on sexuality being very complicated and explain that heterosexual people aren't entirely heterosexual, but just a few minutes later he is assuming that another musician is gay and criticizing him of not 'coming out'. Apparently, Kele thinks that sexuality is complicated for people who are presumed to be straight - but if you're 'suspected' of being gay, you're gay and that's it. Or he just thinks like that when he's being interviewed for a gay magazine...
 
lol :)
that's funny (and true)


Because it was an interview for a gay magazine (Attitude). So it's not surprising that he felt compelled to elaborate on sexuality being very complicated and explain that heterosexual people aren't entirely heterosexual, but just a few minutes later he is assuming that another musician is gay and criticizing him of not 'coming out'. Apparently, Kele thinks that sexuality is complicated for people who are presumed to be straight - but if you're 'suspected' of being gay, you're gay and that's it. Or he just thinks like that when he's being interviewed for a gay magazine...
 

moz'art girl

oh la la
Because it was an interview for a gay magazine (Attitude). So it's not surprising that he felt compelled to elaborate on sexuality being very complicated and explain that heterosexual people aren't entirely heterosexual, but just a few minutes later he is assuming that another musician is gay and criticizing him of not 'coming out'. Apparently, Kele thinks that sexuality is complicated for people who are presumed to be straight - but if you're 'suspected' of being gay, you're gay and that's it. Or he just thinks like that when he's being interviewed for a gay magazine...
Ah yeah, thanks, :) I had not read the title of the mag.:p
So, well I did not know Kele was graduated in sexology...:cool: He seems to know everything...Great...:rolleyes:
 

jdbabz

Member
I have never viewed morrisseys refusal to talk about his sexuality as shame. He expresses himself through the time old art of song, is that not enough? surely the clues are all there for any fool to follow. I don't like Bloc party ,listened to a weekend in the city. The lyrics are clumsy, his voice slow. He sounds bored.
 

unruly boy

So very sickened.
He mentions 'East London', although Hackney and Hoxton are actually NE London and not really what I would call proper East London. My Old man was born in Hackney and most of my family are from East/NE London. Haven't been to Hackney or Hoxton for a few years but apparently they've always been shitholes, like most of the East End. There are some good boozers in the East End however.

Just thought I'd share! :cool:
 
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