Sunshine streams through the bay window on to the freshly painted walls of Kele Okereke’s new south London home. I sit opposite the singer, curled up on his leather sofa as his mother and partner coo over his seven-month old daughter Savannah outside in the garden. As the Bloc Party singer talks in his soft, thoughtful voice, his bulldog Olive happily sits at my feet, licking my ankles as I tickle her ears.
“She wants more attention now, since Savannah was born,” says Okereke, chuckling. It’s a picture of calm, domestic bliss that is reflected on the 35-year-old’s third solo album, Fatherland. A tender collection of personal songs, mostly played on acoustic guitar and piano, it will come as quite a shock to Bloc Party fans who associate the singer with the bracing sound of the indie band who rose to fame in Noughties with their charged take on guitar music, or with the electronic club beats Okereke experimented with on his first two solo albums.
“I knew after my previous solo record that I wanted to go to a different place. I felt for years that I had been avoiding the guitar, which was strange as that was the instrument I was most competent on. My elder sister, Susan, had a classical guitar when we were growing up and whenever she was out, I would sneak into her room and try to teach myself how to play it.”