Kele Okereke: Short Story Writer & Singer-Guitarist of Bloc Party

Kele Okereke

Kele Okereke is the singer/guitarist of British indie band Bloc Party. He is also the author of “His First Dead Body”, which features in Litro #108: America.

What is your earliest childhood memory?
My earliest childhood memory is of being pushed in a push chair by my mother. It was a rainy day and she had the plastic sheet up so as to keep me dry. I remember that I felt safe watching the world through the raindrops hitting the cover. I think I would have been about five years old. I’m not sure.

What makes you happy?
Lots of things, friends, sex, food, my family but these days I’m really noticing now the effect that the sun has on my mood. I realise now that I am not designed to live in cold places.

When did you decide you wanted to be a musician?
When I was about 10 I saw Kriss Kross on Top of the Pops and it blew me away. That was the first time I thought ‘I want to be a musician’.

How does your music integrate with your writing?
The creative process is similar, you make something quickly then you live with it, constantly chipping away at it until you think it is done, but in terms of the integration of music and my writing I tend to view them separately, two different disciplines: I only add lyrics to songs once the music has been arranged.

What are you reading at the moment?
This World Or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson.

What advice would you give to a first time writer?
Something I learnt from Zadie Smith, “Read your own work as a stranger would; or even better, an enemy.”

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Well right now it’s Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked Cookie Dough and Chocolate Brownie ice cream. I have eaten a 500ml tub every day this week. It’s OK though, I don’t feel bad about it at all, because I like the taste.

How do you relax?
I walk, I meditate, I listen to music, I dance.

What is your favourite book?
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche.

Which author is underrated or deserves to be better-known?
In my world James Baldwin would be a household name.

What’s the worst job you’ve had?
One summer I worked for a catering agency as a washer up, they sent me to kitchens all up and down Essex and although it wasn’t particularly fun work I didn’t really mind that aspect of it. The biggest problem was that I was I never in one place for more than three days so I didn’t really get a chance to speak to anyone and I think the people you work with is what makes work enjoyable.

What is the most important thing life has taught you?
You will never be disappointed if you do the best that you can do.

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