The Dood meets Bluey of Incognito
With a new Album ‘Transatlantic RPM’ just released on Dome Records, ‘Incognito’ co-founder/composer/producer/guitarist/singer and legendary British Jazz Funk guru, Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Manuick sat down with UK Vibe’s The Dood in a comfy studio provided by Jazz FM radio to discuss Incognito’s 30years plus reign as one the UK’s premier live bands and recording entities and the new project.
The Dood: Ok so here we are – Bluey meets The Dood!
Bluey: Oh God did I hear that name a lot when I was doing this album…I was staying in L.A to record Chaka Khan and Leon Ware and all those people who are on the new album. And I was on a little piece of Venice Beach where i’d go for walks in the morning and the locals recognised me. So after a few days they started calling at me saying, ‘Hey dude! What’s up dude!
The Dood: Mine’s an original spelling though you understand?
Bluey: That’s cool man, I like that!
The Dood: So, you must be a man who insists on his five pieces of fruit’n’veg a day? Because that’s the only way you could have endured this music industry for so long and kept a sound state of mind. What’s your secret?!
Bluey: I’ve been blessed man! I’ve been blessed! This whole music thing man, some people get into it for different reasons man. It just so happened I struck lucky. I was just like everybody else who falls in love with something at a young age you know. Think of the kids that look at aeroplanes and say I wanna be a pilot, think of the kids that kinda like listen to another rapper and say i wanna be a rapper. For me it was like i wanted to be a guitarist and i wanted to write songs. I wanted to be a song writer from day one! It wasn’t like wanting to be a star guitarist or a pop star. I wanted to be a song writer since i discovered it at the age of five.
The Dood: Any parental influences i.e Dad playing records around the house?
Bluey: In Mauritius, there was always Church and people singing in Church. My grandfather was an Opera singer and so was my aunt. But i never went to the Opera because i was so young, i heard them singing in the garden or in the house. I was five years old. But hearing music on the beach! Wow! In particular i recall one life changing thing – my auntie’s School leaving party. She was seventeen/eighteen years old when she left school and they had a party and a dance…And as the school was at the end of the road we managed to put wooden stools and look over the fence at this party and they had live music and a band with electric guitars. And that was it! That changed it for me completely!! They were telling stories from the village and life and stuff…i loved it and that was it.
The Dood: That’s the same with many of the Islands, the musical story telling etc. It’s a roots’n’culture thing.
Bluey: That’s the way we discover it, through stories and traditions and music. But it was the electric guitar that blew me away, that was new, that was radical do you know what I mean.
The Dood: The Les Paul guitars etc?
Bluey: Actually, It was a red Fender Stratocaster!
The Dood: Ok, so it’s etched in your memory for life?
The Dood: Was that what made you want to become a musician or did you just want to play guitar?
Bluey: I knew that I loved the guitar, because I loved the shape of it. I fell in love with the shape of it and the sound that it made from a young age. And I was a manipulative kid, so because I could play these boxes and stuff…If people asked me to sing a song, I would hold back and wait ‘til I got some money. Or if someone wanted to go out with my auntie, like the local musicians, I would say, ‘look, my auntie is taking me for a walk tonight to the park…’ It was the duty of the elder kids in the house, so my auntie had to walk me. And I did deals man! At six, seven and eight years old, I was doing deals like, ‘you bring the guitar and I will make her sit there and then you can come and talk to her.’ And they would bring electric guitars. They weren’t plugged in or anything, but I would be left to hold them.
The Dood: Which leads me onto my next question, are you self taught?
Bluey: Yeah! I don’t know what an A, F or a G or anything is, so yeah!
The Dood: Okay!
Bluey: Which is not something I am totally pleased about, because I wish I had studied but it’s very hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Now and again we laugh about it. I was producing George Benson and he said to me, ‘Bluey, i’m not sure about this section here.’ So I went over to him and I thought he was going to play it to me and he showed it to me, he pointed it out on a piece of paper. Now, I had written this song, but my keyboard player had charted it and at one point there was an A with a little b next to it and said to me, ‘right there.’ And said hmmm, the Ab chord! He looks at me and says, ‘Ab! That’s not what that is!’ Actually, you know you have A minor and A sharp, it was an A minor chord…He still reminds me now and again. We’d be at a Jazz Festival and he’ll kinda look at me at say, ‘the Ab Chord!’
The Dood: I seen him a few times at Wembley, he’s a special guy.
Bluey: He’s amazing!
The Dood: Who are influences on guitar or otherwise?
Bluey: For my rhythm guitar style, mainly a guy called Claudio Stevenson from a band called ‘Banda Black Rio’ and i’m actually covering one of his songs on this new album. It’s one of two covers on this album. It’s an instrumental called ‘Expresso Madureira’.
The Dood: Meaning?
Bluey: I don’t know what ‘Expresso Madureira’ means, but it’s just an instrumental that’s kinda stayed with me. I still don’t know what it means I must ask one of these days! (laughter all round)
The Dood: It goes back to the feeling again. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make your thirtieth anniversary gig last year (2009) at the O2 arena.
Bluey: Ahhh! You would’ve enjoyed that!
The Dood: I’ve since listened to it over and over and it sounded like a party! Anyway, I did get to see you at the Jazz Cafe and you introduced this guy that we at UK Vibe know well, Ed Motta. He’s big in Brazil but not so well known to many in the UK. How did you get to encounter him?
Bluey: I listened to Tim Maia back in the day…his uncle and realised that Ed was always being talked about as taking over his mantle, because Tim Maia died quite young. When you listen to Tim, you realise where ED got his influences from. He was a man who loved life and had the same crazy kinda character. He was obsessed with records, the same way as Ed. So that’s how I first came across Ed and I think he was about fourteen or fifteen years old, and he was making records. If you look for some of the really early Ed Motta stuff you can find it. He looks like some kid who has just started secondary school! He was incredible – He played everything! He played drums, He played drums, He played bass.
The Dood: Not forgetting his singing?
Bluey: Yeah and singing. Then he developed that vocal style – It was like woah! Amazing! That’s the thing that I love doing actually. I love to introduce new people to audiences. But now and again I’ll find somebody who is not necessarily unknown, there quite famous. Ed was already famous in certain territories, but when I took him to Japan, people discovered him for the first time…The ones in the know knew him. But they would be the hardcore, the underground, the ones that kinda sit up and listen to Giles Peterson. They’d be in Japan and listen to the show all night and pick up the names.
The Dood: Like Soil & “Pimp” Sessions?
Bluey: Yeah! Like Soil & “Pimp” The shows were sent to them and they listened to it. The people who were educated kinda knew him (Ed Motta) but I love kinda educating the people. That’s what I did with Ed, that’s what i’m trying to do with Mario Biondi on this record, because a lot of people do know Mario, but a lot of people don’t know him. And already because i’ve put him together with Chaka Khan on this track (Lowdown), it’s gonna really expose him to a whole new audience.
The Dood: Cool. Two L’s come to mind when I think of you/Incognito. One is loyalty and the other is longevity-The longevity of your career and also your loyalty to your international fan base and moreover to your band members and vocalists. How have achieved and maintained this?
Bluey: I think that…people gravitate to something which they feel is attractive to them. If you put honey in the middle of the table and leave it over night, little ants or bees or whatever will come to it. ‘Cause they will smell the sweetness and they will taste the sweetness. And I see what I do as a producer and what I do as a song writer and as an artist pretty much like that. I’m just a little drop of honey in the middle of the table and they come toward you, because they can smell it and they can taste it. They know that this will kinda give them a platform. They know that they will be able to kinda like solo, enjoy themselves. They know that they will travel to nice places. I just say look, sometimes we don’t make great money or sometimes we do, but we’ll make a living out of it and we’ll have a story to tell!
We would’ve been the first electric band from the UK to play in Kazakhstan, we would’ve been the first Jazz Funk or Soul orientated British band to play in front of a standing audience in China. We would see the Reunion Islands and play at the top of a mountain and go and swim with fishes. That even if you’re a non swimmer you’re gonna see species of fish that you’ve never seen by just standing in the ocean. So I will take you on a journey, because I want that journey for myself. So if you go on a ride with Bluey, you’re gonna see wicked sunsets, you’re gonna see fantastic sunrises, you’re gonna enjoy what nature has to offer and what life has to give. And it’s gonna be tough! You’re gonna also have to get up at four or five o’clock in the morning, or get up at three o’clock when you’ve come off stage at midnight, back to your hotel at one o’clock and then you’ve got to get on a plane. It’s gonna be tough! And you’re gonna have to carry your own gear…but you’re gonna see and do stuff. And I think that is the attraction of ‘Incognito’ – Because Tubbs and I had this idea.
The Dood: Explain Tubbs?
Bluey: Tubbs was the founder member of ‘Incognito’ with me. He was the bass player of ‘Light of The World’, a band that I was in. And Tubbs was fifteen years old when he first joined the band. Paul ‘Tubbs’ Williams was his full name. Tubbs being his nick name. Sadly he passed away at the age of forty-four. It’s like watching your son or your younger brother pass away, it’s not nice. It was quite sudden because it was a haemorrhage.
The Dood: But his memory lives on?
Bluey: But his memory lives on through the music, the legacy. But Tubbs and I set to do something unlike the band we were in before. The band ‘Light of The World’ we were in, that was a set band – we were like a gang. And in a way what broke that band up was the fact that new members came in. Now they’ve actually split, they don’t even talk to each other, because people came in and that took the concept over…and kinda took it in a different direction.
With ‘Incognito’, we were set up to include other people, we were set up to include people coming in from outside and going, ‘you know what, what about this?! Let’s try this chord, let’s try that! What about we do a change of music?’ Or I would say, ‘oh! Let’s bring in this guy from Trinidad and Tobago because he’s got that calypso feel in his drumming.’ Or on the next album i’d say, ‘What about bringing in somebody who’s more Jazz orientated or more funk orientated.’ It’s like one of those things you know – we’re open.
The Dood: Okay!
Bluey: That’s why I chose the name ‘Incognito’ which means in disguise, which means unknown. You don’t know what’s gonna come next. So that was the idea…The easiest way to explain ‘Incognito’, our ethos, our thinking is to look at the first three records we ever made…The first thing we ever recorded, before the Jazz Funk album was a twelve inch single called ‘Parisienne Girl’ and on the B-side was a tune called ‘Summer’s Ended.’ On those two recordings, like a week before we actually recorded it, Tubbs had seen a sax player working with a drummer in a bar where he went to drink called ‘Sour Grapes.’ It was like a wine bar. The drummer was Geoff Dunn and the other guy was Lee a sax player from Ghana who would both play on that track. And then we brought in some friends from ‘Light of The World’ and we made that.
On the B – side ‘Summer’s Ended’ was a guy I met in a pub the night before with a flute on the table and I didn’t know who he was. I asked him about the flute and he said he’s just come in hoping to have a jam. I saw him play and I thought, ‘Woah! I’ve got to have this guy! He’d never been in the studio before. And that was Neil Metcalfe who later went on to be one of the Jazz greats in this country now. So those two records showed you what we were about. That was the first recording. Then the album ‘Jazz Funk’ was made by Vin Gordon from Jamaica, who was like one of the top Reggae session players. He played with Bob Marley amongst others. Vin played trombone. The rest of the horn section was made up with guys from other bands on the label like Ray Carless and his father. His father was invited to play, Ray Carless Snr. He passed away sadly. The rest of the band was made up from people who defected from Hugh Masekela’s band. They were seeking political asylum….and were hanging out with Ray and stuff, so they played on the album.
The Dood: So you had quality musicianship on there?
Bluey: Yeah! You know people who don’t look at anything just say, ‘Oh! They had a hit with Jocelyn Brown in 1992’ or ‘Oh! They had Maysa (Leak).’ But they don’t know the history, they don’t know how it began, they don’t why I change it. Some of them gladly embrace the change, but some of them are like, ‘but you haven’t used so and so on this album, you’ve got to go back to using Maysa again, she’s the Incognito singer!’ She’s a great singer and we will get together from time to time, but people who get what we’re about are alright with it. Some people still haven’t sussed out after all this time that I will stir the pot.
The Dood: So once you’ve played with Incognito, you’ll always be a part of the set up. Like family?
Bluey: I tell you what, I can safely say that there’s probably about two people in the one thousand five hundred odd musicians that I won’t work with again….And that’s kinda hard. But of those that are still alive there’s only two or three people maximum that I won’t work with again.
The Dood: Personality clashes?
Bluey: Yeah, or if they’ve done something to purposefully hurt you…or hurt somebody in the band. You may come across someone who doesn’t function within the band or is malicious….then you kinda rule that out. Apart from that when you think about one thousand five hundred! Think of any business that’s had one thousand five hundred workers come into an office, how many will be sacked over the years? So over thirty-one years!
The Dood: It’s a testament to you as well, being so approachable and accessible?
Bluey: Yeah, but at the same time if you choose good people around you, it should be okay you know.
The Dood: So you are now fourteen albums in now with this latest release, ‘Transatlantic RPM.’ Would it be fair to say that you’ve gone back to basics with regards to the recording technique?
Bluey: Totally! Because we’re sat in a circle, totally!
The Dood: Like you used to do when you back when recording the ‘Jazz Funk’ set?
Bluey: Exactly! Exactly the same way! ‘Parisienne Girl’ and ‘Summer’s Ended’ were written with what I call skeleton writing. I had‘Dah nah nah nah pup pup be do dup be doo! For ‘Summer’s Ended’ that’s all I had in my head. And Tubbs had that, ‘Gonk gonk gonk gonk! Gonk gonk gonk gonk! And that’s it…We just sang that to the people and just organically kinda made it happen. The whole ‘Jazz funk’ album was skeleton writing, I had probably two songs actually written – ‘Smile of a Child’ and possibly ‘Chase the Clouds Away.’ Apart from that the rest of the album was like a Jam session! We’d sit round in a circle and play. That’s why you see the keyboard players name and the drummers name on the writing credits.
The Dood: Back to ‘Transatlantic RPM.’ What’s the significance of the RPM?
Bluey: Revolutions Per Minute, like 33rpm or 45rpm, the single and the twelve inch speeds when spinning. This whole album is based on my record collection. I used to be the manager of a record shop on Tottenham High Road which belonged to the Manager of ‘Light of the World.’ And I used to run the shop for him when he was out doing other things. We used to bring in imports and we used to rehearse upstairs….Those tunes I used to spin like Boz Scaggs tunes and stuff have come full circle, now i’m actually recording it with Chaka Khan….The artists whose imports we used to bring in from America and say, ‘Oh man! Brand new import! Rip it out the plastic!
The Dood: Respect! I’ve the same memories!
Bluey: That’s what this album’s all about – going back! The revolutions is no longer the record, it’s actually my journey. Back and forth, full circle.
The Dood: You have an eclectic mix of guest vocalists on this album. Leon Ware, Chaka Khan, Ursula Rucker, Christian Urich, Mario Biondi etc. Where did you record their tracks?
Bluey: They were all in their own territories. I was there for the Chaka sessions, for the Leon sessions and for the Christian Urich from ‘Tortured Soul’ session and for Luckyiam, a rapper from L.A. That was all done in California just outside of Los Angeles.
The Dood: So these weren’t your studios?
Bluey: No, these were like in the ‘Flight Time’ studio which is the Jam and Lewis studio. Going to this old little studio, in what looked like a little Mexican sleepy town, going to Christian Urich’s little homemade studio up in the hills. It was just different experiences for each one. With Leon (Ware), his home studio was in his front room!
The Dood: That must’ve been something else?!
Bluey: Yeah! Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! And each one of them is like an incredible story. There’s a word that I love in the English language and it’s called serendipity. For me, i’d almost called the album ‘Serendipity’ because of it, but i’d really had this ‘Transatlantic RPM’ thing for a long time and it wouldn’t budge. And serendipity has been used before. I really wanted to experience these things. I wished for them, and then they happened by accident.
I wanted to work with Chaka, wanted to work with Chaka! Coming up to my album I thought, ‘What’s gonna get me an in?!’ Lulu calls up – because I had worked with Lulu in the past – and she was like, ‘Chaka and I were discussing that we want to put on this show and you’re the name who ties the two of us together. It’s your production that we want on this thing. So I did a show with Chaka, Lulu and Anastasia called, ‘Here Comes the Girls!’ Chaka was on there and loved what I did, so that’s how that came about.
The Dood: What year we talking here?
Bluey: That was last year 2009. That’s how the introduction came. I was already recording the album. So I was cutting tracks, sitting in the circle with my mates just jamming with Matt Cooper and Pete Ray Biggin(drums) and Francis (Hylton)(bass). We were just like jamming and listening back to our jams and saying, ‘You know we should develop this one? Okay, let’s use these eight bars from here and then let’s go to that section because that section sounds good.’ Just jamming, just making it up. Then I took those tracks full of jams and then I went and wrote some of them in a little house in Spain that was made available to me by my manager.
The Dood: So you had some Bluey time?
Bluey: So I had some Bluey time. And then I had these songs which I said I’m taking those ones for collaborations. I took them to America and I said to my wife, ‘we’ve got Chaka now and I hope I can get a flight to New York, because I want Christian Urich from ‘Tortured Soul’. We’ve toured with Tortured Soul and they’ve opened up for us in Paris. I love the band, i’m a big fan and i’ve introduced the band to a lot of territories actually as a DJ, because I DJ sometimes as well. So there I was at the airport in Canada…thinking I’m gonna have to get to New York after this to try and get hold of him, but he was on the road.
So i’m at the airport in Canada and i’m skyping my wife and i’m talking to her, she can see me. And a voice comes from behind me and my wife can see this guy and it’s Christian! He’s like, ’Bluey, what are you doing here?’ I was like, ‘Woah! Christian Urich, I can’t believe it man, you’re hear and i’m talking to my wife about you.’ Not only was he up for it, but he was going to the same place I was going, because he had just moved to L.A. It was a marriage made in heaven, a real quick drawer and there we were!
The Dood: And Leon Ware?
Bluey: Leon Ware. There was one American Soul singer – younger generation guy who I wanted to work with, but had a reputation for being difficult. I won’t mention any names so I can talk about it. So i asked him several times and he, Mr X was being out of range…And I don’t suffer that because I won’t bargain with you. I’ll tell you what I have and what I can offer and once I’ve told you that, there’s no point in coming back asking, ‘But can you do this?’ I will never offer you less than I can, that’s the way I operate my business. My manager doesn’t like it, my wife doesn’t like it. They keep saying, ‘You’re giving your game away!’ It’s been my game plan all my life, it’s the only way I can do it, is to tell you what I have. Should I suddenly come into more, you can have it. Sometimes it’s more than I should be offering…but this person was talking a totally different ball park.
The Dood: Everything happens for a reason?
Bluey: Everything happens for a reason and when he turned me down my wife said, ‘….another door will open.’ And within an hour she took a call saying, ‘Hey! You guys are here in L.A? It was Mark de Clive-Lowe, he was only down the road…. So over breakfast I told what I was doing and who I was working with and he said, ‘Well, what about Leon?’ I said, ‘Leon Who?’ He said, ‘Leon Ware!’ I said, ‘Ware, where is Leon?!’ He said, ‘He’s here, he lives down the road.’ I said, ‘You’re joking!’ ‘I always thought Leon was on New York side!’
He (Mark) gave me his mobile phone and said speak to Leon now. Leon said, ‘Oh! You coming over Bluey, I’ve been looking for you!’ Leon’s been looking for me, I’ve been talking about possibly working with Leon one day to my wife and now this is coming true. She looks at me and says, ‘It’s happening again!’ They we were at Leon’s house. My daughter calls him granddad because she loves him. He told us the most amazing stories. He’s in my life forever now! And the whole trip was like that. Except for Ursula Rucker, she was the exception. With Ursula, I’ve been a fan. People send you poetry and ask. ‘Can you put this to music?’ Lyric writing for a song is very different to poetry, it doesn’t have the same pause….Song writing is not trying to rhyme and sets a different kinda pace.
The Dood: They say most rappers are poets, like KRS 1 or more recently Talib Kweli?
Bluey: Totally! Totally! But not everyone can do it! Some people can write it, but to deliver it in song is a particular talent. And I love Me’shell Ndeg’ecello and I love Ursula Rucker for their delivery in that sense….With Me’shell, you have these stories that take you back and she’ll take you on a journey, but the musical journey will be just as strong. And that’s what I like about what Ursula does…Even if you write a good rap, it’s not necessarily gonna sound great if you went to Joe Bloggs on the street and gave him Q-Tips lyrics. It would make fascinating sense…but you put it back into Q-Tips mouth and it’s like, ‘Oh that’s sick!’ It’s like, ‘Woah! What you doin’ to me, you’re taking me on this mad journey!’
So for, that is why I wanted to work with her. Also, everybody I’ve met on the road when touring, like with The Roots in Asia…I remember we were talking about ‘Good People’ and we agreed that, ‘Ursula man she’s, ‘Good People’ man, she’s spiritual. And everybody had the same vibe about Ursula…She’s straight up, she’s not a fake, she’s like the real thing. Everybody loves her!
The Dood: I can tell that just from listening to her work.
Bluey: And you can, it shows. So I really wanted a piece of that humanity, that spirituality and that sweet thing that is Ursula. So I called her and she said, ‘Send me something! Send me a backing track to see if I can feel it!’ And I send it to her and she delivered man. Lovely!
The Dood: The fruit being the sublime ‘Gotta?’
Bluey: Yeah! And we didn’t have to go through all that let my manager speak to your manager!
The Dood: Cut out the middle man!
Bluey: Ooooh! That was lovely! For most parts of this album, that was the nicest thing. Leon didn’t need protecting and I didn’t need no protecting from Leon. Same thing with Ursula, the same thing with Christian, it was like that.
The Dood: Which brings me onto record labels and Independents versus Majors?
Bluey: For me there’s a lot to be said about major record companies. But I could only work with them when there was somebody with an independent mentality, like Giles Peterson at Talking Loud. I could never be signed out direct to one of those Universal boys! I saw them spending mad money on one artist that I was producing along with another five people producing. Yet we were making records that would never see the light of day! The thing about independent artists or independent labels or independent writers and independent papers – everything HAS to work! Because the little that we have, we HAVE to make it work for us! We HAVE to make it work for us, because it’s ALL that we have! The little that we have is precious.
The Dood: There’s no back-up, no multiple retakes?
Bluey: You can’t afford to get it wrong more than once if you do stumble. So therefore what you find is a lot of people with passion, a lot of people with understanding, they’ve done their research. They’re not employed by somebody just to turn up because of their name. They turn up with information, they’re loaded. That’s what I like about independent labels. They have to know how to distribute, they have to get somebody to stand outside a club and hand out leaflets…You do what you have to do!
The Dood: So explain the link up with Peter Robinson, the man behind Dome Records?
Peter Robinson (Dome Records), Bluey and DJ Chris Philips
Bluey: That’s the kinda people I work with. Sometimes people will say, ‘You’ve been doing this for a while now, why don’t you do it this way?’ As long as you feel you’re understood there’s no point in going to some place where you’re taking chances really. And for me Pete not only understands the music but he also understands the people behind the music, which is really, really, really important. It’s one thing liking the music…and knowing that you can shift X amount of units, but do you care if I’m struggling in some other way. Or do you care that I want to make certain changes to my music on this record. And people like that, because they’re independent, they will tell you straight up as well…If there’s a strategy, they will fight for their strategy.
The Dood: Because their heads on the line as well!
Bluey: Yeah! Their heads on the line! And Pete is like that. Sometimes he’ll be outspoken in a meeting with my manager, but at least it’ll be discussed…He’s thinking, not only about how he can help his business but also his artists. Because if his business fails, selling me fails!
The Dood: The current album was recorded in three locations. Is that correct?
Bluey: L.A, London and Rome. Rome was quite an experience! Two of the sixteen tracks were recorded there with Mario Biondi. He took me to the studio where Ennio Morricone did all those Clint Eastwood movies and stuff! And the whole set up was still there! They still work to a big screen, they put the picture up on the wall and the string players play…The whole feeling of the place was amazing! And it was in a part of Rome that was like mind blowing!
The Dood: Live or studio recording, what’s your preference?
Bluey: The thing about studio recording is that you do get second chances and sometimes I like that…Or sometimes we try to capture the magic of live playing in the studio, which is another art form. Or sometimes I like to strip away the art form and say, ‘What about if we try this?! Oh! It doesn’t work! What about if we try that?!’ It’s a place where you can experiment and explore the possibilities. Many people say, ‘Oh! But you’re a purist, shouldn’t you do it first take? Yes we do, but sometimes I wanna do it a different way…There are those moments like with Jocelyn Brown on always there – sings it in one take and you’re going, ‘Oh my God!’ Tuning, pitching, timing, understanding of lyrics, delivery – it’s there and that’s it!
The Dood: And another vocalist, Tony Momrelle, how did come across him?
Bluey: Tony was introduced to me by somebody who should not have introduced me to him, because he lost his gig! It was a friend of Tony’s that introduced me to him. And then I got him the gig with Sade, I introduced him to Sade. And he goes off and does that from time to time. The reason why Sade loves him is for the same reason I love him. He’s a consummate professional and he doesn’t over sing.
The Dood: What next in the pipeline. More live gigs such as Ronnie Scott’s to promote the new album?
Bluey: We’re always playing live gigs, new album, no album. Tomorrow morning i’m gonna be in Poland. The Day after i’m gonna be in Vienna. The Day after that i’m gonna be in Budapest…If someone throws us a gig, everybody’s available and it pays the bills we’ll go and play it. Anywhere! Mexico, China, we’ll go!
The Dood: Do your wife or children travel with you?
Bluey: Oh yes! Whenever possible!
The Dood: And have any of your offspring followed you into music?
Bluey: Oh yeah! My son’s a record producer. He’s about thirty-two years old and if you have never ever listened to Sabrina Malheiros, then check her out. The Guardian made her previous album the album of the year – he produced that. He’s also producing Azymuth in Brazil. He spends a lot of time in Brazil. Sabrina is the daughter of their bass player Alex Malheiros. And he’s produced her last two albums and done the remix album as well, and he’s now producing some tracks on the Azymuth album.
The Dood: Very quickly – Who are Bluey’s music influences historically and modern day?
Bluey: There are things you can hear, like Earth, Wind and Fire and you can hear Banda Black Rio, you can hear Pleasure, you can hear Stevie and Marvin in my song writing, Chaka Khan and Rufus. You can hear those things, but there’s also my awareness of other styles. I listen to the music of Joni Mitchell, i like Nick Drake…Then there is new music that i’m open to you know. Whether it be some band that’s on tour with us, some new forms of music. And it’s all around me all the time all the time. I like Deep House, I like Soulful House, I like music outside my own genre. I like Panpipe music. But I don’t really put it all in ‘Incognito.’ ‘Incognito’ is a very focussed thing. There is that Jazz Funk, slightly Latin element, but there is a point with Incognito where I draw the line. With certain sounds even. Within my own head it says to me, ‘Nah! That’s not really right! That don’t fit with this! That’s for me to do somewhere else!’
The Dood: So whether I put on your first album or your fourteenth, I should always recognise the Incognito trademark Sound?’
Bluey: Yeah! Exactly! You should always know it’s ‘Incognito.’ Even when I did ‘Inside Life’ and I didn’t have any money and Gilles (Peterson) heard my demo’s that I had programmed onto a BBC computer; I played the piano myself on some of the tunes, like ’Gypsy’ and I had programmed it all with this little sequencer, that worked only with a BBC computer back in the day – I wanted it to have the flavour of us and it did!
The Dood: Thanks for time Bluey. I’ll let you get on and get some rest in readiness for your trip to Poland tomorrow.
Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards
NB* Big Shout out to Chris Young at Nurture Music for arranging the interview and his ongoing assistance.
Also Thanks to Peter Robinson of Dome Records for getting Bluey to the location safely.
Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards, Bluey and DJ Chris Philips
Essential Website: http://www.incognito.org.uk/
Essential Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/bluey_incognito
Essential Dome Records Website: http://www.domerecords.co.uk/
Essential Studio Albums: Transatlantic RPM – 2010
Tales From The Beach – 2008
Bees, Things, Flowers – 2006
Eleven – 2005
Adventures in Black Sunshine – 2004
Who Needs Love – 2002
Life Stranger Than Fiction – 2001
No Time Like The Future – 1999
Beneath The Surface – 1997
100 Degrees and Rising – 1995
Positivity – 1993
Tribes Vibes and Scribes – 1992
Inside Life – 1991
Jazz Funk – 1981
Bluey and Michael ’The Dood’ Edwards