After returning earlier this month to share his instrumental offering 'The Heart Of The Wave', Kele Okereke has now announced his plans for a new solo album, arriving in the coming months.
The new full-length 'The Waves Pt. 1' will follow on from his 2019 releases '2042' and 'Leave to Remain' soundtrack, is being previewed by a cover of Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’, and is set to be released on the 28th May via his own label, KOLA Records / !K7.
Speaking about the new album, he said, “After the first lockdown I found myself in an odd position. We were due to start working on my second musical with the Lyric Theatre but when the lockdown came into effect those plans were thrown into disarray. I became a stay at home dad of a 3 year old and a 6 month old. Those initial days were hard but looking back they were also incredibly rewarding. In the rare moments of down time I would go up to my music room and play the guitar, looping myself, making this wall of sound. it became a type of therapy for me, something to calm me down as it seemed like the whole world was losing its head. I realised in those moments that I missed the act of performing, so I joined Instagram so I could upload performances of my old songs and songs that I love. It was a lifeline for me, to still feel connected to an audience, to still feel like a musician in this time of freefall.
“What also became clear was that I still had the desire to create. Usually when I make records it's an ensemble affair, there are usually lots of other musicians and singers I work with, but as we were in lockdown I did not have that luxury of being able to work with other musicians. I knew I had to fill in the space of this record entirely by myself, which was daunting but also very liberating. This album is literally the sound of me.
“As I didn't have so much time in the days to work on the ideas I had to be very focused with the little time that I did have. During the night I would go for long walks around the city on my own, listening in the moonlight to what I had recorded in the day, rearranging the songs in my head, trimming the fat. It became very clear to me that I had the start of a new record and it was going to feel very different to what I had done before.
“The initial plan was that the record was going to be solely instrumental, after 2042 I knew that I wanted a break from writing words. Although making that record had been rewarding it had also at times been quite traumatic for me, as I was forced to examine a lot of my own personal fears and anxieties about race relations in this country and the US. I made 2042 in 2019, so when those same discussions about race came into sharp focus after the death of George Floyd in 2020 I personally felt that I needed a break from the heaviness, I knew that whatever I did next musically would need to cleanse me.
“Slowly I started adding words and vocal melodies to the ideas and I could see songs starting to take shape but it was important to me that the music felt fluid, that it drifted in out like the bobbing of waves, that if you let yourself succumb to it maybe it could take you somewhere else, somewhere far away from here.”
Listen to his rendition of 'Smalltown Boy' in the player and see the album's full tracklisting below.
'The Waves Pt. 1' Tracklist:
1. Message From The Spirit World
2. They Didn’t See It Coming
3. The Way We Live Now
4. How To Beat The Lie Detector
7. The One Who Held You Up
8. The Patriots
10. Smalltown Boy
11. From A Place Of Love
12. The Heart Of The Wave
13. Cradle You (Bonus Track)