Courtesy of Strut Records comes Soul Sok Sega: Séga Sounds From Mauritas, a twenty-two track collection exploring the ‘séga sounds’ that emerged from Mauritius (an island off the coast of Madagascar) between 1973-1979. The traditional music of Mauritius, dating back four centuries, Séga is known as the “blues” of the Indian Ocean. Below, native Mauritian and the compilation’s architect, Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick discusses the impetus of the collection and his own relationship with his island’s native sounds.
One of my earliest memories as a child on my native island of Mauritius was sitting next to my grandmother on the beach beneath the filao trees watching the people dance whilst the musicians played the séga and sang songs that uplifted their spirits and magically mended their broken bodies after they had worked all day beneath the scorching sun in the sugarcane fields.
I wanted to become one of those magical healers, singing, playing the guitars, ravannes and triangles. This early exposure to the rhythms originally brought to the island by the slaves sung in a broken French dialect we call Creole would consume me and drive me on to a career in music that spans nearly four decades.
A little later at the age of eight at the many hotels on our coastlines, I would hear a more sophisticated version of the séga, complete with drum kits, electric guitars and basses, organs and pianos mixed with the traditional percussions and the essential ravannes. Some bands even had horns (a sound that would become a fixture in my arrangements). Those syncopated bass lines would play an important role in the music that I went on to make with my band Incognito. The groove and the bass became the foundations of my creations.
Shuggie Otis called it the inspiration information… I call it séga … Mauritian séga!” – Bluey