The Sound of Mixing


The coolest go-to musician for heady versions of old Hindi numbers, Mikey McCleary gets his first exclusive Bollywood album with Nautanki Saala.

Mikey McCleary adopts a certain kind of artistic approach while reworking old Hindi film songs. "It's not remix. Remix is when you borrow the original audio track from an old song. I take the basic skeleton of the tune and create the rest from scratch," says the 44-year-old from New Zealand, who arrived on the Hindi film music scene two years ago with Bejoy Nambiar's Shaitan.

Even though the recognition came through the heady spin-off of Khoya Khoya Chaand from Shaitan, McCleary had made his first brief impression with a commercial for a leading soft drink brand directed by Dibakar Banerjee. The jazz-influenced, saucy versions of revered Hindi numbers, rendered in smouldering female voices, have become a signature stamp of McCleary. It has enabled him to earn an expanding niche in Bollywood and also helped him bag projects with directors such as Nambiar, Rohan Sippy, Dibakar Banerjee and Shonali Bose.

"I stress on the character in the singer's voice quality, voices that stand out which I tend to find mostly in women," he says. This explains his inclination towards female singers, which includes Indie-rockers Suman Shridhar and Shalmali Kholgade to old-timers such as Rekha Bhardwaj. His flirtation with their vocal sensuality will continue in his upcoming big album Nautanki Sala, which McCleary calls his "most Bollywood album till date", where the peppy Madhuri Dixit-hit Dhak Dhak gets a new spin. He has scored eight songs for the film, one of which is a reworked version of Tezaab's So gaya yeh jahaan. "The album has a lot of Jamaican Ska influences with a Mediterranean vibe set in an Indian context," he says. Apart from Nautanki Saala, his album on Amitabh Bachchan hits, B70, will release in the next few weeks. In fact, all the songs sung originally by male singers have been rendered in female voices.

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