When Bloc Party’s Four came about in 2012, rumours were flitting about that Kele had fallen out with his first love, and his solo work was where his heart laid – and now we’re certain of it. Even with that horrific news, we’ve been more than placated with Kele’s latest solo work; a more than perfunctory dance album (some more critical of him would use the word ‘functional’) that explores what really lies in his heart beyond just his affinity for the genre. It helps that Kele is well-versed in the UK dance scene too – enough to facsimile Burial on one track (‘Coasting’), then joining the house Renaissance on another (album highlight ‘Closer’). JUICE talks to the frontman of one of UK’s biggest indie bands about why it doesn’t encapsulate him anymore, what’s changed in his world, and DJing as opposed to playing a live show.
Trick feels like a more well-rounded release compared to The Boxer. Has pushing out and playing your solo material more over the past few years shifted your directions and motivations as a solo artiste?
I don’t know if playing my solo material has directly changed my view, because I only played it for a year before going back and working with Bloc Party. I just feel that, yeah, I did The Boxer in 2009, 2010, and I did Trick in 2012 – I’ve lived and I’ve had a lot of different experiences, and I think it was life, really, not so much the record.
How about your influences, then? Seeing that Trick is a dance record, have they changed over the past few years as well?
Yeah, I feel that when I first started making music with Bloc Party, I was thinking more of the band dynamic – you know, drummer, bass player – and that was the only way to express my musical creativity. And even though I was interested in other forms of music, I thought that was the only way. However I realised, as I started to lay down more records that there were other ways in which I wanted to express myself, and I got frustrated, and I wanted to push against it. Now, I’m in a position where I’m not so interested in band music, I don’t buy any of those sorts of records, it’s not really my world anymore. I’m not saying that I don’t love music that I did 10 years ago, but I’m just not interested in any more of it.
Have you decided on how you want to tour this album yet – in terms of your live setup and such?
Yeah, at the moment I’m touring with a DJ and a visual artist. On this record, I didn’t want it to be about the musicians on stage, I wanted it to be a different experience. This year and next year I’m going to tour with more people. On the record there were a lot of female voices, so I think it might be good to tour with a female singer, but we’ll see what happens.
We particularly enjoyed your collaboration with Jodie Scantlebury on ‘Closer’. How and why did you pick and choose the people you worked with on Trick, such as Jodie and Alex Epton?
Well, with Alex I had a history of working together, we worked together on The Boxer, so it seemed very obvious to work with someone that you already have a relationship with. I enjoy working with him. And as for her, I’ve always loved her voice. And I also worked with Yasmin, and I’ve known her work, and she was on a song with Gorgon City. And so yeah, I was very keen to work with her, and it turned out really well, so I was very pleased.
What is your writing process generally like when you’re writing alone, as compared as to when you’re with Bloc Party particularly for this album?
I guess when I’m working alone, I tend to work the ideas up and y’know, and let things ruminate for a while and see where it goes. When I’m working with Bloc Party, I tend to take the ideas to the other members of the band, and kind of work it up together in a room, and kind of wrestle with it together. It’s a shared experience, and when I’m working alone, it’s solitude.
You’ve mentioned before that DJing gave you an insight as to how crowds work. Did what you gleaned from it translate over to your performances onstage now?
Kind of. With the live show we’re doing right now, it’s very much like a DJ set in the sense that it’s one continuous mix of music. There are no breaks, and everything is kinda mixed together. That was something we’re keen to maintain, it’s more like a show that has a DJ feel to it.
Four seemed to bring Bloc Party back to its roots. What can we expect from Five?
I don’t know. I’ve got no idea!
What are your hopes and dreams for the next few years?
I’m looking forward to touring this record out, and basically just keep doing more music next year. I’m just waiting to see what happens, then we’ll go for it.
Kele’s sophomore solo album, Trick, is out now via Lilac Records.