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Michael Lira

Meet the other winner of our music competition: the multi-talented, award-winning Michael Lira. Michael started his career as a young punk at the age of 14 in Sydney, Australia's live music scene. Soon his sound and infamy developed rapidly, creating diverse music from metal to musette. He tours with his bands Vicious Hairy Mary and Darth Vegas, as well as composes soundscapes and arrangements for TV and film, including winning the Best Original Music Score for the film Hunter, starring William Dafoe, at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards, Australia's equivalent of the Oscars.

Find out more about Michael and his work here: and check out the latest album from Darth Vegas called Brainwashing for Dirty Minds, described as a "soundtrack for a freakshow on Mars watched by zombies in tuxedoes". 

We asked Michael a few questions to figure out what makes him tick.

TCC:    Why did you become a musician? 

I remember the first time I saw the incredible animated movie Fantasia. I was mesmerized by what I was hearing. I asked my parents - Who is talking? - and they replied - Shhh, no one is talking. After bothering them for a while, it turned out what I was hearing were instruments, and everything I was hearing was created by humans - wow, it was a magical moment. I was 35 years old.

TCC:    How do you survive as a musician? How do you make a career out of music?

By surviving, I'm assuming you mean affording food other than rice. The problem for me was that for a long time I was obsessed with creating complicated music that encapsulated the sound of my nightmares. Not much money in that . The point at which I started surviving was when I took on regular shows with a Gypsy swing band back in 1998, doing weddings, parties, clubs, festivals. It was regular work but not regular hours. Around this time I also started to compose using a computer. I soon started recording soundtracks for friends doing circus routines. But things didn't really take off for me until I composed some TV music in 2004. Luckily I'm still working, fingers crossed!         

TCC: Besides winning The Colter Chronicles Music Competition, what do you consider to be the high points of your career as a musician?

As a musician , supporting one of my favourite bands The Cramps in Brisbane with my circus horror band Vicious Hairy Mary. As a composer, winning at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards for the film 'Hunter'.

TCC: What inspired your composition of A Man of Constant Sorrow

When I read the lyrics as a poem, I thought there was the potential to take it to a much darker place. Also reading the film synopsis containing the words "dark, gritty and foreboding" set the tone in my mind. I'm also a huge fan of Ennio Morricone and influenced by some of his arranging devices. I kept it as raw as possible, and played all the instruments live, multi-tracked with a lot of pitch correction, especially for the violin. However, the vocal delivery was the key and I knew I certainly couldn't cut it! Virtually no brainpower was required to think of Inga. She has the most captivating moody voice that transports the soul. 

Thanks Michael - and Inga - for your unique and compelling take of A Man of Constant Sorrow ! And once again - congratulations.