PODCAST: MIKEY McCLEARY ON CREATING MUSIC FOR BOLLYWOOD

Mikey McCleary

Listen to Mikey McCleary on The Kamla Show

Meet Mikey McCleary, musician, composer and music producer.He has been kept busy creating music for Bollywood films and Indian advertisements, and lately he has branched out to score music for Indian-American filmmaker Shonali Bose’s “Margarita With A Straw”

If his name is unfamiliar, his music must certainly be familiar to most of us. You might have heard his track from “Bombay Velvet” that releases later this year; or, his Tu Hi Tu from “Nautanki Sala.” Perhaps this track from “Shanghai.” or Khoya Khoya Chand from “Shaitan” is a favorite. Then again, you probably would recognize the catchy jingles he put together for Vodafone or Levi’s?

We spoke with McCleary last month on a wide range of topics ranging from his early years in India to his teenage years growing up in New Zealand, the music and bands he listened to, and how he came to compose music for Bollywood films and for Bose’s “”Margarita With A Straw,” his first international film.

McCleary’s musical  taste is eclectic, and this is clearly reflected in the music he is creating in Bollywood. As a teenager he listened to a wide variety of music, his favourites being David Bowie, Dire Straits, Queen, Bob Dylan and Cure.  He enjoyed classical music as well. He studied music and composition in New Zealand before moving to London to work in a recording studio. It was during his stint in London that he helped his former brother-in-law (an Indian)  produce his first album. They ended up working on 3 albums.

About 7 years ago McCleary relocated to Mumbai, the entertainment capital of India and home to Bollywood, the biggest film industry in the world. McCleary first worked in the advertisement industry and produced some memorable jingles. He then got a break making music for Bollywood films.

“India has a way of becoming addictive,” he says. It is not just India that is addictive, but also those vintage classic Hindi film music. His wife Diksha Basu introduced him to Hindi classic songs and he seems to have a special fondness for Geeta Dutt songs.

McCleary is reimagining some of the old Hindi songs in new ways. Often, he introduces a swing element to the the music, and the re-invented songs have found a new audience in India. In fact it is just such a re-worked version of Dutt’s song that is featured in “Bombay Velvet.”

He has produced 3 albums under The Bartender series that pay homage to old Hindi songs; one of the albums is devoted entirely to songs from Amitabh Bachchan’s films. A hallmark of his music is the manner in which he encourages his singers to be inventive with different styles without being tied down to the customery renditions traditional to Bollywood. “I like to encourage my singers to push their voices, to explore different sounds”. For instance he encouraged one his singers to cultivate an ‘Amy Winehouse’s vibe‘ in her voice. Anushka Manchanda, Shalmali Kholgade, Mauli Dave and Rachel Varghese are some of the singers he has worked with to nurture their innovative atistry.

 

LISTEN: MIKEY McCLEARY ON CREATING MUSIC FOR BOLLYWOOD

 

Besides the 3 albums devoted to Hindi classic songs, McCleary produced his first album “TV Dinners” in English. The album features songs from his popular jingles, except he extended them into full fledged numbers. There are 5 music videos that he has made featuring some of the tracks from his new album.

What is next in store for Mikey? He is working on two new projects. He is writing a story for a musical film and working on producing a new album.

 

And, here is a short playlist of McCleary’s music.

Songs featured courtesy of  Saregama

Photo credit: Mikey McCleary

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Podcast: Bollywood Sounds & American Influence with Jayson Beaster-Jones

Bollywood Sounds

Bollywood Sounds

What are the sounds of Bollywood music? What are the various influences that shaped and continue shape Bollywood music?

If you delve deep into the subject of Bollywood music as Prof. Jayson Beaster- Jones has done, you will discover all sorts of musical influence from jazz, big band to gypsy music and hip-hop. American music has influenced Hindi or Bollywood music going back to the early day – think 1940s. You can hear traces of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and other big band music in the early Hindi film music. Beaster-Jones illustrates the American influence through Dorsey’s “Song of India” that was originally composed by Russian  Rimsky-Korsakov‘s made famous by Dorsey and traveled to Bombay and made it to a Hindi film track.

If you fast forward to the 21st century you will discover hip-hop and rock music and the neo-swing music of Mikey McCleary, a New Zealander, who is remixing and re-imaginging those old vintage and retro Hindi film songs in new ways.

We spoke with Beaster-Jones on the various global influences that go into the making of Bollywood music and look at the American influence on Indian cinema. It comes as quite a bit of surprise to folks when you mention how strong American music influenced Hindi or Bollywood film music.

Beaster-Jones is an ethnomusicologist and teaches at University of California, Merced. He has written researched and written on the subject of Indian film music. His first book is “Bollywood Sounds: The Cosmopolitan Mediations of Hindi Film Song” and he is writing a second one called “Music as Merchandise: Music Commodities, Markets, and Values in India.”

LISTEN: Bollywood Sounds & American Influence with Jayson Beaster-Jones

 

Related Links: Prof Greg Booth Making of Bollywood Music Part-2 and Part-3 and AR Rahman on His Musical Journey.

 

Video: Mikey McCleary Remixing & Reimagining Music in Bollywood

Mikey McCleary

Mikey McCleary

Meet Mikey McCleary – a Kiwi music composer who is busy creating all sorts of musical waves from Mumbai, the headquarters for Bollywood film industry. If you ever watch Indian TV shows then you have heard his music for sure. He is the guy behind all those advert jingles for Vodafone, Levis, Titan, Coke and many, many more. He has also created soundtracks and composed music for Bollywood films like “Nautanki Sala,” “Shanghai” and many more. He recently composed music for Shonali Bose’s film “Margarita With A Straw.”

McCleary is prolific and has released a couple of albums, including a new one called TV Dinners, where he has turned those advert jingles into full-fledged songs. He clearly knows where he is going in this musical journey of his in India. And he is partial to jazz, specifically the ones that have swing and big band influence as he shared in a recent conversation I had with McCleary. Continue reading

Podcast: Prof. Greg Booth on The Making of Bollywood Music Part-2

Greg Booth

Greg Booth

Prof. Greg Booth is a musician, author and teacher at University of Auckland, New Zealand.

In 2008 Prof. Booth’s book “Behind The curtain: Making Music in Mumbai’s Film Studios,” was published. It highlights the contributions of individual musicians, who were part of a larger Hindi or Bollywood music orchestra.

The musicians came from different background spanning British military brass bands to jazz and traditional Indian music. For example – quite a few of the musicians came from the Indian state of Goa, which had a strong Portuguese influence. Many musicians came from a Catholic background and learnt to read and play music as part of their education. What was the musical influence that the Goan musicians brought with them into the Hindi or Bollywood music? That is one of the strands that Prof. Booth explores and highlight in this book.

In Part-2 of the interview Prof. Booth  talks about Chic ChoclateJoe MenezesLeslie Gudinho and Kersi Lord, whose music you might recognize but not know they were the ones who played that musical refrain because they were always behind the curtain. The people who were in front of the curtain were the music directors like C. Ramachandra,Laxmikant PyarelalSD BurmanRD Burman and others.

LISTEN: Prof. Greg Booth on The Making of Bollywood Music Part-2

Coming up is Part-3 of the interview with Greg.

Music credits: Amar Akhar Anthony, Barsaat, Albela, Teesri Manzsil, Aradhana and Bhoot Bangla.

Photo credit: Greg Booth

Podcast: Greg Booth on Indian Wedding Brass Bands

 

Greg Booth

Greg Booth

Prof. Greg Booth is a teacher, author & musician. In his book Brass Baja: Stories From The World of Indian Wedding Bands he takes us behind the scene into the world of the Indian brass band musicians, whose rich musical traditions and history has been largely ignored. It was way back back in the 17th century that the first wedding brass band made their appearance in India. Today, Indian wedding brass bands are an integral part of Indian popular culture and cinema. Most of all they are a big part of Indian wedding celebrations.

We spoke to Prof Booth about the evolution of Indian wedding brass bands and the introdution of western musical instruments into Indian music. For instance, the clarinet and violin were introduced from the west into traditional Indian classical music. And, the harmonium, which is such a large part of Indian music was introduced to India by European missionaries points out Prof. Booth.

LISTEN: Prof. Greg Booth on Indian Wedding Brass Bands

He trained in western classical music and then learnt to play the tabla from Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad Alla Rakha.

This is part one of a  3-part interivew on Indian Wedding Brass Bands, Indian film music and Bollywood. In part 2 and 3 Prof. Booth talks about the influence of western music into Bollywood and takes us behind the curtain into the world of Bollywood musicians.

Song Credit: Sheila Ki Jawani by Sunidhi Chauhan and Vishal Dadlani from Tees Maar Khan

Photo Credit: Greg Booth

Podcast: Prof. Greg Booth On Making of Bollywood Music Part-3

 

Greg Booth

Greg Booth

Prof. Greg Booth is a musician, teacher and an author. In his book “Looking Behind The Curtain Making Music In Mumbai’s Film Industry” he takes us behind the silverscreen to show us how music was (is) made in Hindi or Bollywood films.

In Part-2 Prof. Booth talks about the process of how songs were created especially in the 20th century. Big orchestras was a key part of the music making process. The situation in the film dictates the nature and style of music. In the book he highlights the music making style of music directors like NaushadShankar-Jaikishen, Lakshmikant-PyarelalSB Burman and RD Burman.

Cut to 21st century and the process of creating music for Bollywood films has changed with the introduction of digital technology. Oscar winner AR Rahman was one of the early music composers, who used digital technology extensively and pared down on the need for a huge orchestra. With the embrace of digital technology, the process of creating music has completely changed when compared to the 20th c. Another change that has come about is that today the musicians are in front of the screen, and not behind the curtain like their predecessors.

LISTEN: Prof. Greg Booth On Making of Bollywood Music Part-3

In case you missed, you might want to check our previous segments with Prof. Booth on Indian Wedding Brass Bands and The Making of Bollywood Music.

Music credits: Baiju Bawra, Barsaat, Farz, Caravan, Bobby, Roja and Aradhana