So, you start up a band, a band known for its jazzy, musical material, and you call it Incognito. But there’s a problem: There is another band, a band that’s also known for its jazzy, musical material, called Incognito. And since they’ve been out there longer than you have, they can do fun things like, you know, sue you for using their name without their permission.
What you do you when you’re faced with such a situation? “We just decided to spell it weird, as weird as we could,” says saxophonist/vocalist Josh Duncan, calling from Portland, Maine.
And that’s how Raleigh band Incognito became N’Kogniito, a lawsuit-free group that’s been playing in and around the Triangle since 2014. The band, fronted by Ohio-born Duncan and his bass-playing big brother Aarik, originally started playing restaurants, doing jazzed-up covers of songs such as Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”
“We call it soul-pop – that’s the best way to describe it,” says Duncan. “It kinda evolved on its own. It’s always kinda been the sound that we had because, originally, it was just me and my brother. He was playing the piccolo bass and I’m playing saxophone and then doing harmonies whenever we could and whatnot.
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“So, it was always that kind of soul-poppy, because I think most of the bars we played in were mainly Caucasian-white bars – like, downtown Raleigh or downtown Charlotte, just places where they would normally go. So, that was the music we started with, and everybody really liked it. And, so, we kept it going.”
When someone suggested they should consider playing larger rooms, that’s when they got the itch to write their own material, as well as refine their adult-contemporary sound.
“We really liked that sound – like Frank Ocean meets John Mayer, kinda,” says Duncan. “So, we just kept on with that same vibe until the band grew, and we still try to keep that same kind of bill.”
The brothers soon added more musicians to the lineup: Nehemiah “Nemo” Miller on lead guitar, Marc Figueras on rhythm guitar, Jayvin Finch on bass guitar and Chris Jefferys Jr. on drums and percussion.
“We got a couple of big shows in New York and, so, we wanted to have a full band when we did the shows,” remembers Duncan. “And, then, the same people just stuck around.”
Friday night, the band will be at Kings in Raleigh for the release party for their first six-track EP, titled “Volume 1.” Since they will be heading out of town this summer, playing such major cities as Nashville, Washington, D.C., and, once again, New York, Duncan says the band wanted a recorded release to sell to audiences.
“We have about 12 or 15 songs,” he says, “but we really wanted to get something out right now, just because everything’s going kinda in a blow-up direction and we wanted to have something on iTunes. And so, people can hear us whenever we go do our shows.”
Duncan says N’Kogniito is planning to release a full-length by the end of the year. Until then, they are looking to play music, entertain audiences and, hopefully, not get sued for it.
“If you ever hear us, we’re not really talking about sex, drugs and money – that’s not really our thing,” he says. “We really go for the musical content and, like, just spreading love. So, that’s really what we focus on. So, it’s just the experience of just a raw band, just trying to give you a good time.”
What: N’Kogniito Album Release Show, with Will WildFire
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Kings, 14 W. Martin St., Raleigh
Info: 919-833-1091 or kingsraleigh.com