Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick has always given credit to the music from the beaches of Mauritius for being the nucleus of the Incognito sound. The Sega music he heard during his youth started his visceral understanding of music’s power to heal emotional weariness. His connection to the slave music of the island and that of African-Americans started the reinterpretation of a path most notably lead by Herbie Hancock into Incognito’s sound of curative joy. Maunick’s British based band of multi-cultural musicians hit their commercial peak in the ‘90’s when “Always There” and “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” charted and put them in center view with their American fanbase. The 33-year mark and 14 albums to date after working with such voices as Maysa, Jocelyn Brown and Chaka Khan made the recording of the current project seem like a dream after a dream hence the name Surreal. This phase of the band’s journey revitalizes the R&B/funk/ jazz style they have always produced but with the new voices of Mo Brandis and Natalie Williams giving the album a subtle edge. Maunick spoke to Kickmag recently about Surreal, the structure of the band and the power of music.
Why do you call this album Surreal?
Well first of all, for several reasons, this fantasy world I live in making this music and 15 years later 33 years of Incognito and I’m really on top of my game and it felt really quite abstract because I really thought at some point in my life it would really stop and peter down. It felt surreal like I had a new lease on life I felt like I was producing in my own studio again and it just felt abstract every step of the way that I was making a new record again. The last album we had done Transatlantic RPM, I just felt that I had reached a peak at that point I was working with Chaka Khan, Leon Ware and Al McKay from Earth, Wind & Fire is on there and I felt it was a pinnacle album it marked the end of a chapter. I just felt that us beginning again was surreal.