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“There’s scope for independent composers”

This New Zealand-based music composer/songwriter, who was born in Chennai, returned to Mumbai five years ago and says the country has always been a part of his life. Mikey McCleary, who has put in several years in the industry, plans to turn music composer.


My interest in music began when I was in class six. I use to enjoy playing the drums and the guitar. After that, I went to a music school and then trained in composition and classical music. That’s when I got really interested in music. Then I moved to London, worked in a studio and later worked in music production.

First Break

While I was working in London, I happened to meet Lucky Ali and worked with him on his first album Sunoh. I mixed Indian and Western instruments for this album. It turned out really well.

India Calling

It was after meeting Lucky Ali that I decided to shift to India. My sound is still not typically Indian but I think it works as there is a lot of experimentation in Bollywood music today. I believe it had a special connection with Bollywood, which is what brought me here.

Music Producer

You have a consultant and a producer who makes the melody, a composer makes some tunes and the rest is put together by the music producer. In very practical terms, the producer is the project manager for the recording, mixing and mastering process. He/she has an overall vision for the music, the sound and the goals of the project, and brings a unique perspective to inspire, assist and sometimes provoke the artistes. But now I am open to composing.

Music Album – Doesn’t Work In India

Bollywood music is very dominating in India and album music doesn’t work here. But things are changing in the industry and many filmmakers are giving independent composers a chance. For example, Bejoy Nambiar has given independent composers a chance in his upcoming film David, where he has picked some of their existing songs. With the new breed of directors, change will definitely come.

Background Scoring

Background score is very important for a film as it takes the film further. It is one of those things many people don’t notice but if you took it away the film would lose its depth and impact. When composing a background score, you need to start by considering the genre of the film. It’s very important to have a clear understanding of the director’s vision and also what works for the audience. Within these constraints, I like to create music that fulfills all expectations but is also new. Generally, commercial films demand a more literal score where the music tells you what to feel, whereas in art-house films, music is used to enhance the overall soul of the film. I prefer background scores that enhance the journey that the film is taking you on but don’t reflect the scene too literally.

Future Projects

I have composed a few songs for Rohan Sippy’s Nautanki Saala and then Bejoy Nambiar’s David.

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