Riverside Remote Composer – Central Queensland Today

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Mike Lira in his home studio.

By Phil Jarratt, Noosa Today

If you see Mike Lira taking his morning walk along the Gympie Terrace River, actively talking into a phone, don’t interrupt him. He’s probably closing a deal for his next film score with a famous Hollywood director.

“I love the pace of life in Noosa,” said the Sydney-born musician and songwriter, who had spent his recent working life between New York and Los Angeles, “and the fact that time zones mean I can do my calls in Los Angeles while I take my hour-long walk every morning.

That’s exactly how the dramatic and high-energy score of Netflix’s latest action thriller Interceptor, released last week, was composed last year, with Mike discussing his progress each morning with writer/director Matthew Reilly as he marched past the pelicans.

If you’ve seen the graphic and somewhat blood-spattered film, you might find it hard to relate this peaceful image to the score’s loud, punchy and dramatic music, but welcome to the modern world of film production.

After being bi-coastal for a few years, with Mike based on the West Coast for his film work and his partner Rachel Crawford working in New York as a literary agent, the couple decided to escape the pressures of city life. (shortly after a shoot at Mike’s local supermarket in East LA) and try to work remotely while paying an extended visit to Rach’s family in Tewantin.

Then Covid hit and this extended visit got a bit longer than expected.

“We decided to sit here in Noosa,” Mike said.

“Rachel found an apartment to rent on Gympie Terrace and here we are! We don’t know how long we’ll be staying here, but it’s a great base for both of us, although travel is more of a regular feature.”

The two-bedroom river-view apartment can be a rather cluttered workspace, with Rach taking over one corner of the living room and Mike’s studio squeezed into the second upstairs bedroom, but it suits this well. hard working couple. And as a former member of punk rock bands, Mike, now 47, knows how to work hard and deliver smooth results.

“I’ve always loved music from a young age, I had my first band at 14 called Anorexic Elephant. We didn’t do a lot of gigs, but it was a start. I’ve also always liked film music and cartoon music.

“I grew up paying attention to the music behind the action and I loved really dramatic music. I felt that writing film scores was something I could do, but I had no idea of ​​the practical steps needed.” And I was paying the rent and having fun playing with bands.”

Her first adult band was called Vicious Hairy Mary.

“It started out as a punk band, but it got weirder and weirder,” Mike said.

“I shouted into a megaphone.”

This was followed by Darth Vegas, but at the same time Mike began playing double bass with Monsieur Camembert, the gypsy-flavored world music sensations where he would have his biggest live musical success.

“The music I played with them was very dramatic, with violin pieces and Eastern European influences which I guess led me to the kind of music I use in sheet music. today.”

The breakthrough in film scores came with an animated series called Staines Down Drains.

“It was crazy wall-to-wall music, so that meant I was making the same kind of crazy music I was doing anyway, but getting paid to change.”

This resulted in the first of many APRA Awards for Best Television Theme and also led to him working on a series called Bogan Pride, a vehicle for a new comedic actor called Rebel Wilson.

“It was very ambitious for its budget. Each episode had two musical numbers, and Rebel wrote all the lyrics and we went beyond the music.

Bogan Pride drove Rebel Wilson to the US for Pitch Perfect, and the rest is history, but it also produced another break for Mike when Rebel wrote him a glowing reference for his US work visa.

Pursuing work wherever it took him, Mike found himself in demand to compose scores for hit TV shows like Rake and The Slap, but he was also drawn into the slightly stranger world of cult films from zombies and horror like the 2020 Nekrotronic and Wyrmwood releases.

“These movies aren’t mainstream, though Wyrmwood did well in the cult horror realm. The people of Texas loved it! I loved it, but to be honest, I’m drawn to wild, crazy, surprising music.

The Netflix production of Interceptor is its biggest budget to date. Filmed primarily in Sydney with Chris Hemsworth serving as executive producer (and playing a salesman in a hilarious cameo), his wife Elsa Pataky the star and best-selling thriller writer Matthew Reilly directing for the first time, It’s a Wrap neat hour and a half of gory, bloody formula, with Pataky bouncing back from a me too disaster to single-handedly save the world from a nuclear holocaust.

Like all of Reilly’s embossed paperbacks, it’s sure to sell like a stink.

Mike had met Matt around the trappings in Los Angeles and when the author handed him a script and asked him to compose the music for a movie he would direct, he was all for it.

“Matt likes to say he doesn’t like fine dining, he’s here for Mars Bars, and people love Mars Bars. He’s not after the Oscars, he wants people to have an exciting ride,” Mike said.

And that it delivers, although I have to say my favorite parts were when I closed my eyes and just absorbed the music and the effects, which are amazing.

“My mom says it’s my best work, and it could be,” Mike said.

Finishing a beer at The Boathouse’s Sunset Bar, Mike explained that he sometimes felt lonely working remotely.

“It becomes difficult to socialize when you work long hours with other time zones. And it’s fun to be in the studio where you can compose a piece of music and the director will spend the afternoon and listen and then discuss it over dinner.

“I have often worked remotely although some projects require you to be local and available. But since Covid, people are so accommodating, and with internet speed and new technology, it’s super easy.

“Yesterday we did a scouting session for a new movie where the director, producers, music supervisor and sound crew were all in different locations, LA, Sydney and Noosa.

“We watched the whole movie from start to finish and talked about every moment of sound and music. “Now I will go through it systematically, compose excerpts and send digital demos with virtual sound married to the images. The director will review them, we’ll have a conversation, and then I’ll make changes or move on to the next section.

“It’s a good way to work, but it’s also nice to sit down and talk face to face, especially over a beer. I haven’t done this in ages. Cheers!”

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