The man behind the popular jingle, “The little things you do for me, and nobody else…” aside from a dozen other popular adverts, and now with a number of Bollywood scores to his credit, Mikey McCleary is no novice to the Indian music industry.
This New Zealand music composer/songwriter, who was born in South India, but left at the age of six, only to return to Mumbai five years back, says the country has always been a part of his life. “I started with Lucky Ali’s first album when I was based in London, for which I mixed Indian and Western instruments. Coming back to India as an adult, I knew that if I didn’t try shifting here, I would regret it. My sound is still not typically Indian, but a little different and I think that works as there’s much experimenting in Bollywood music today,” says Mikey who’s composed and produced tracks for films like Shaitan, Kahaani and Shanghai.
While he was brought up on ’70s and ’80s songwriting like that of Bob Dylan, he prefers not to define his musical style; though admits his original influences are folksy with acoustic guitar. “It was a fantastic experience working on the background score of Shanghai as it was more cutting-edge Indian cinema. I like directors like Dibakar (Banerjee) who push boundaries in Bollywood,” adds Mikey who was given the task of composing the music without reading the film script. The result was a mélange of popular drum rhythms chopped up, blended with ambient dark sounds, the mandolin, santoor and electronic influences.
These projects aside, Mikey had released an album titled, The Bartender last year and is halfway through the sequel album. He promises it will have the same jazziness — instruments like the saxophone, and an overall seductive and upbeat tone. Singers like Anushka Manchanda, Mauli Dave and Shalmali Kholgade are lending their voice to the album. He also has his own production venture with musician Ashu Pathak — Ribbit Studios — recording songs with independent artistes and gives them exposure through jingles. “There’s a lot of talent out there and I’m hoping through this venture, there will be a resurgence in the Indi-pop market,” adds the songwriter.
Meanwhile, he has his plate full with a number of projects including the soundtrack and background score of Rohan Sippy’s next film, recording with independent artistes and television ads which keep him “more than busy.”