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Now Playing: Mikey McCleary’s The Bartender

The Mumbai-based producer gives us a third edition of Bollywood remixes

By Sonam Savlani  May 14th, 2014

The Australian producer has given us jingles that stick in our heads – think Durex, Coca-Cola and Vodafone

Soon after I moved to India, six years ago, I was introduced to making jingles through a friend of mine, Ashutosh Pathak, who’s being doing it for a long time. It’s been good for my work ethic. When you do a jingle, you watch the film at lunchtime and by dinner time, you have a finished track with the lyrics, tune and vocals. It teaches you to go with your instincts and work very fast, and that’s been valuable because I used to ponder over my music and keep coming back to it.

And he won’t stop at these. He’ll put them in an album soon

I am really excited about doing an album of jingles called TV Dinners – with songs that have been written for Vodafone, Levi’s and Titan. Songs that have been appreciated, that I’ve composed and written lyrics for. You’ve heard 30 to 40 seconds in the ads, but now, each song has a new melody, new lyrics and new parts to discover. The album will be out with Sony Music at the end of June.

He’s re-fixing Bollywood classics on his latest album, The Bartender

There’s only one reason why I would do a song – that’s if I can see the potential in enhancing its beauty in some way. They’re soulful, melodic, jazzy, and I like to keep those elements. Rather than do a dance remix, which I think ruins the song, I try to think, ‘If those composers were around now, and they had the current technology, how would they have treated it?’ I add elements like chord progressions or basslines, while earlier, you pretty much heard just the melody and the rhythm.

He’s looking back to the ’50s

There are at least five songs from the ’50s on this album – of all the Bartender albums I’ve done, this one definitely has the oldest songs. There’s a beautiful song ‘Awara Hun’ [from Awara, 1952], and this one is sung by Shalmali Kholgade. I really wanted to keep the jazziness of the song, and I’ve given it a slight reggae feel. And there’s also, ‘Aaj Ki Raat Koi Aane Ko Hai’. I actually did this song a long time ago, because it was used in a TV commercial for Coca-Cola featuring Imran Khan. I’ve retained the guitar section, which I really liked.

His Hindi is a bit weak, but hey, it helps

People have grown up with all of these songs. But when I hear them, I’m not thinking about the lyrics or what they mean. I can approach it very musically. And you might think, ‘Well, you need know what the song is about in order to do it justice’, but I’ve found that sometimes when you know what the song is about, you become too literal. Like ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ is basically a romantic song, but my arrangement is not.  

The Bartender – Classic Bollywood With a Twist released on May 14