Pioneering Indian pop legend Lucky Ali recently released his latest video single, Intezaar. Ali teamed up with his favorite collaborator, brother-in-law, and renowned composer/producer Mikey McCleary to create a series of singles, starting with Intezaar.
In this exclusive interview, Lucky Ali and Mikey McCleary talk to India Currents, among other things, about how the song came about, their musical inspirations, and the pandemic.
IC: Tell our readers about how your latest video single, Intezaar, came about.
MM: It was actually kind of a scratch that we had worked on about ten years ago. We didn’t have any lyrics then, and the music was still sort of rough. I came across it recently and began developing it. I brought along my friend, IP Singh, who started writing the lyrics. We then showed it to Lucky who developed the lyrics further with IP. And it became an uplifting, feel good track, which is very right for this time in history—when people are getting back to some kind of normality in their lives. The song really kicked off for us the idea of doing a whole album.
IC: Tell us a little about your next upcoming video single of the album.
MM: The next video single is basically like a celebration of the zest for life—in whichever form—depending on what makes one feel inspired. It touches on the fact that we have collaborated from across New York to India.
IC: How have the past two years of the pandemic been for you as musicians?
LA: I was “pandemized” by the pandemic! For me, it was a time of silence—I didn’t feel like picking up my instrument for a long time. I felt more aware of everything outside. Once the pandemic eventually passed on, we slowly went back to practicing together.
With the new situation, it makes sense to express one’s music a step at a time—rather than just put out a whole album. That used to be the norm earlier when people used to record CDs or cassettes.
MM: For me,there have been a few silver linings of being able to have more time with family—I have young children. Further, the concept of working remotely has become more commonplace and accepted as a very viable option to take. Half the people who I know in the music world in Bombay have shifted to Goa. So, it’s had a change in the way people look at life and what they want from it. That sometimes can be a good thing.
IC: Who are some musicians whose work you admire and are inspired by?
MM: I make so many different kinds of music, and my influences are very eclectic—from here, there, and everywhere. When I began working with Lucky was soon after the time artists like Sting were doing music that was popular—yet they weren’t using instruments and arrangements that were typically found in pop music. There was a hint of globalness to it. One of my earlier influences was also Paul Simon’s album, Graceland. Such albums were at the forefront of pop music, while reaching into other areas globally.
IC: Do you have any word of advice for budding musicians?
LA: A lot of people come to become stars, but the public has a very short-term memory. The motivation should be that you have a story to tell, and you need to get it out.