Trick is the second solo album from Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke, and the second full-length in which the 32-year-old singer-songwriter-DJ-producer deviates from Bloc Party’s guitar-packed angular rock in order to dive into sleek dance music. However, Kele tells Billboard that the follow-up to 2010’s The Boxer draws less from that album and more from Bloc Party’s most recent effort, Four — by serving as a counterbalance to Bloc Party’s harsher tones.
“I feel like you become more confident in every record you make,” says Okereke, who records under the name Kele for his solo projects. “Four was a very abrasive rock album, and the whole time we were touring that record, I had started to work on this record, Trick, because I felt that I needed something that was the complete opposite of that, sonically and emotionally. I felt that it needed to be something a lot more intimate and immersive.”
Trick, due out Oct. 14 on Lilac Records, is indeed a more self-assured statement than The Boxer, as Kele peppers the 10-track house record with melting vocal tones and shuffling beats. Kele radiates heat while duetting with singer Yasmin Shahmir on opener “First Impressions,” while “My Hotel Room” finds Kele’s yearning falsetto oscillating between seduction and frustration as the arrangement recalls dubstep shifters like Burial and R&B masterminds like Maxwell.
Pop Shop Podcast: iHeartRadio Fest Recap, Year of the Booty & More
Recorded in London and New York, Trick follows a period in which Kele dove head-first into the world of electronic music: since The Boxer’s release, the London native has played DJ shows in Europe, Australia and the U.S., and worked with artists like Martin Solveig, RAC and Hercules & Love Affair. “The process of hearing those sounds at 5:00 AM in clubs started to bleed into what I was making,” admits Kele, who worked with producer Alex Epton of the XXXChange on the new album. “Even though this record is a solo record, I was still having people’s inputs. It wasn’t like I was locked in a basement, making music all by myself. … I don’t think I ever want to make a record completely in isolation. It’s good to have some sense of perspective, and it’s good to have other people sharing how it makes them feel.”
Kele says that he still enjoys bouncing ideas off of his Bloc Party mates, “to have my horizons expanded by other musicians.” He’s unsure of when those thoughts will coalesce into a new Bloc Party album, though: the best-selling U.K. group went on hiatus between 2008’s Intimacy and 2012’s Four, and it’s too soon to tell how long the current break will last.
“I’ve just finished this record and I want to tour it and show it to people, but in terms of the future, I don’t really know,” says Kele. “I’ve been speaking to our guitarist Russell [Lissack], but he’s just had a baby at the start of the year, so I think he’s very much in dad zone right now. We’ll see. Right now, my focus is on promoting and touring my own record, but I’m sure something will be happening soon, I just don’t know how soon, if I’m honest.”
Speaking of touring, Kele has yet to announce any official dates but is excited to demonstrate the differences between his performances supporting The Boxer and his next stage setup. “I feel that the way we presented the first solo album, it was cool, it was with a live band, everyone was performing and everyone had a role in making the sound come together. I feel like, with this record, I don’t really want to do that again,” he says. “I don’t feel that, right now, I want a drummer. Whatever happens, the beat should be coming from a machine.”