Here is a recent interview with Lisa Gerrard, the powerful voice behind some of Michael Mann’s best known scores. Click here for full interview.
After Dead Can Dance, what was it that drove you into composing for the moving image?
Brendan and I were working on an album, which followed “Spirit Chaser” and I had done some things for Baraka ) and also with Graham Ravel and tried my hand at being a singer whilst he wanted five singers. Yet because of the style I was singing in I was able to accommodate him in a fashion, for what he required for this film. I realised at that stage that I was actually able to do this and when Michael Mann contacted me I thought well I could sing for people that know how to compose music for film but I wouldn’t know how to score the music.
Then Michael contacted me and stated he had used my pieces in “Heat” and that he’d listened to some work that I had been doing on my Solo album, and stated he wanted that energy in his film. I said I don’t film score, but I could help him with some singing but that I didn’t write music. Michael than said all I know is that I’ve got this movie I need to make and I need you to write music in three days.
So he rebuilt my studio and I thought how exciting! Michael stated he would get me some help; some great editors and that he would help me. I then stated to my friend at the time Pieter Burke we had already recorded “Duality” together) and said to him do you want to do this thing and he said sure why not. So we took off together and I though if at least Pieter is there we will be able to nut it out together and figure out what to do. So we basically took off and went to Los Angeles and wrote some pieces together for the film, which Michael really liked. In that period of time which didn’t end of being three days but instead a few months.
We ended up going over and spending the next four or five months writing there and that was for the film “The Insider”. Suddenly we were getting nominate for Golden Globe awards, which I consequently had never heard of – no one believed at the time (and so I made sure I was very quite about it). It wasn’t our area or a line that we would have followed. So having not being at all interested in Hollywood films it was not something we would have really known about.
From that point on, other people in the industry started to get excited by the work we had done with “The Insider” and Hanns Zimmer contacted me he wanted me to do Gladiator – and I said I would love to come over and try some things. Then Ali, and then I supposed it had really started to take off.
It wasn’t by design; in fact I still to this day do not know how I arrived. But it is amazing the knowledge you pick up, especially working with Michael Mann – its like going to University, he teaches you so much about what and what NOT to do because he doesn’t like generic film scores. So he created a completely different line, which could facilitate what I was doing.