Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke & Bobbie Gordon chat about collaborating
For the third and final creative project, Kele Okereke and his chosen emerging artist Bobbie Gordon release their brand-new, original track
Down Boy through the creation and opening of the world’s first 3D printing record store Subba-Cultcha was there to witness the event and speak exclusively to Kele & Bobbie.
The 2013 BACARDÍBeginnings campaign has seen six music artists take on unconventional briefs around the creation, production and experience of music, as well as releasing original tracks together. The first project saw Rudimental and Bipolar Sunshine embark on the A&R process in 24hours – writing, recording, releasing and performing a track all within a day. The second project saw Toddla T and Roses Gabor release an original track solely via social media, before throwing the track open for a remix contest. The third and final, sees the opening of the world’s first 3D printing record store this not only marks the very first time an original track has been released in 3D printed format, but also highlights and pushes the current boundaries of 3D printing technology. Working with technologist Amanda Ghassaei
, this will also be the first time an entire track is coded to print in 3D. Music, culture and technology fans alike will be able to go to the store to buy the limited edition record
Down Boy, with all sales proceeds going to charity Nordoff Robbins, the national music charity dedicated to transforming the lives of vulnerable adults across the UK through music therapy and services. Each record will also be sold in limited edition record sleeves specially designed by Kate Moross
. Famed for her energetic style and love of three sided shapes and typography, the London based illustrator, designer and art director has created four different cover designs for fans to choose from.
The inspiration of dance music on Kele is also shown clearly on
‘Down Boy’, which features classic garage beats and ambient vocals from Bobbie Gordon. The track marks the first time that Kele has worked with another vocalist and been on the other side of the production desk. With her smooth, soulful voice, Bobbie Gordon started out as an vocalist providing vocals for the likes of Adele, Cee-Lo Green, and Noisettes. Since then, the singer-songwriter has developed her solo sound; mixing genres and being more daring with her musical output. Subba-Cutcha spoke to both Kele and Bobbie about BACARDÍ Beginnings, Bloc Party and emerging artists and the current music scene.
Thank you both for joining us today. Really excited about the project that you are doing, how did that about?
: I was asked by Bacardi if I would be a mentor for this project and I remember I’d seen some of the projects and the artists that did it last year so I was really excited to be able to do it and I always loved Bobbies voice, we worked together on my first solo record and I thought it would nice to collaborate and do something completely new.
: It’s been really organic it’s been a nice process to happen naturally.
Bobbie, you are just starting out as an artist now, did you always know what kind of music you wanted to make in terms of sound and style?
: Yeah I did backing vocals working with musicians,
: Jobbing musician!
: My music, it does change I think, material does change through life. It evolves. Depending on what you’re experiencing and who you’re working with, but it’s done really naturally. I think that’s why we’ve worked really well together on this project as well because we’re on the same page musically with what we want to achieve. It’s come at the right time definitely.
How would describe your sound, perhaps for someone who hasn’t heard your music before. Anything you hate being labelled as?
: Labels are labels, you can’t get rid of them, if people are listening to your music and like it then that’s cool and if they don’t it’s just an opinion. I love the 90s, I’m a 90s girl, I was brought up then, those are my influences, like Janet Jackson, I love pop music, I love garage music. Music that’s happy and makes you dance really! And in terms of balance and stuff I couple of ballads that are hopefully going to be on the album. A different side, a bit darker, filthy, got lots of influences. Let the labels come yeah! (laughs)
Speaking of new bands, have you got any advice for any new bands or artists starting out? For example is there anything with Bloc Party you would have done differently, knowing what you know now, you would have done differently?
: No. I mean as a human being I’m not really fond of looking backwards. I think we had a really good start. We were really lucky at the beginning of our career cos we were surrounded by people that we trusted and got what we were about. So I don’t look back and think anything about that period could be better. I think we did it the best way we could. The advice I’d give I guess would just be committed, I guess. It’s quite a competitive field, you really have to want it a lot and you really have to be prepared to grow and to learn and to absorb as much information as possible. You really need to know your field, that’s what I’d suggest.
Do you think bands/artists these days really need record labels, in traditional ways that music has always been promoted? Is it possible to do something completely off your own back?
: I don’t know.
: it’s just evolved now hasn’t it? It’s not like bands doing a gig and an A&R coming down to sign you. People can put their music out online. The music industry has just evolved with it, I don’t think its any worse or better, it’s just changed. And as an artist like Kele said you have to be prepared to change, learn and grow with it if you want to be in it! http://youtu.be/NQl9hD995ho
This is the first time anyone has heard the track, do you think maybe fans of Bloc Party will be surprised by it? But not especially if they’ve been a fan your albums – what was the influence behind it? What did you want to achieve with Bobbie?
: I’ve always felt listening to Bobbie’s voice it has a buoyant very light quality. I remember when we were recording sessions for The Boxer I was thinking at some point it would be nice to kind of isolate that. Write a track around that rather than have her feature on what I was doing. So I feel now that this project has come at a really good time for me, thinking that back then. Sorry what was the question? I’ve lost my train of thought!
What were the influences behind the track?
: I think the thing was both me and Bobbie are roughly the same age so we’ve got a lot of similar references, we grew up raving, someone suggested we play something with a 90s garage feel and we were both on the same page. That was kind of always the goal that was always the plan for me. I never told you this but your voice really reminds me of Kelly Le Roc. I always thought that, that’s what I was aiming for.
It’s funny you say about the garage thing because on your Mix Tapes that came out earlier this year I was really surprised to hear Wookie Battle. You can really see where that (garage) influence has come in.
: yeah, I’ve always been quite open minded about music and Bloc Party fans might not expect me to be doing something like this but anyone paying real attention will see that it’s all kind of connected.
One last question, it’s been quite a busy year for you, with this and the Mix Tapes – Bloc Party...the Next Wave Session came out this year and you played Latitude, any plans?
: I think at the moment we don’t really have any plans to do anything. Russell is having a baby, I think we just need some time. You know I’m sure at some point something will happen. But right now I’m just enjoying what I’m doing now.
: yeah it is!
Beginnings artists have included AlunaGeorge & Friendly Fires and Joe Goddard & Jessie Ware so it is clear this innovative and boundary breaking project is ahead of the trend and constantly looking for new ways to approach recording, making and sharing music. This project is no different, the launch party held in the basement of Phonica Records boasted complimentary tacos and Bacardi cocktails, a live performance from Bobbie Gordon and DJ set from Kele to keep the party going until the small hours. Also celebrating this special series of events was an exhibition of images from the past BACARDÍ
Beginnings projects and supporting videos that illustrated the processes behind the 3D printer and examples of the work done by Nordoff Robins. Performing tracks off her forthcoming album Bobbie Gordon kicked off the nights live music, her sound brings together classic R&B rhythms with a soulful and energetic vibe, her slowed down reworking of Bell Biv DeVoe’s
Poison showed a playful side to her personality. Performing the exclusive track
Down Boy together
, a garage influenced track that showcases Kele’s ear for a classic sound and Bobbie’s light and bouncy voice, the song was printed right there and then on the 3D printer. This final exciting project brings to a close another successful year we look forward to 2014 and what new collaborations it will bring. http://www.bacardibeginnings.com/phase3/