Lisa Gerrard is a vocalist and composer known for a genre of music often described as "arty goth-rock" and for world and new age music. Since 1995 she has been contributed her talents to international film scoring projects.
In 1980, Gerrard met Brendan Perry, a fellow musician and, like Gerrard, of Anglo-Irish background, in Melbourne, Australia, and began working together. They both moved to London in the 1982 and began writing songs together. They compiled a group of them in 1984 as an album, which they called "Dead Can Dance." Gerrard points out that the concept of the album is reflected in the cover art, showing a New Guinean ritual mask. "The mask, though once a living part of a tree, is dead; nevertheless, it has, through the story of its maker, been imbued with a life force of its own." The title of the album (which became the name of their band) has, she says, led to their being tagged with the "Goth" label, " ... a mistake we deplored and deplore ... " she asserts.
After contributing two songs to an album by "This Mortal Coil" and an EP vinyl disc called "Garden of The Arcane Delights," Dead Can Dance released their next album, "Spleen and Ideal," in 1985. It reached number two in the British independent charts.
Dead Can Dance had various additional personnel, but the core duo of Gerrard and Perry remained constant. After their third album, "Within the Realm of a Dying Sun," Gerrard says, they became dissatisfied with the limitations of the guitars/bass/drums medium and began to study classical theory, especially counterpoint.
Gerrard's first film work came in 1988 when Dead Can Dance was asked to score a film by Agustin Villarongas, El Niño de la Luna (Moonchild). Dead Can Dance continued to produce new CD releases. In 1991, Perry and Gerrard were commissioned to write incidental music for Irish theatrical productions, and Gerrard scored a production of Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus.
Dead Can Dance returned to films when an American independent film called Baraka use songs from their prior albums and new songs. By this time, Dead Can Dance was known for its eclectic use of classical instruments and techniques, electronics, rock instruments, and many influences from new music. Haitian drum trance-music, Australian instruments, Inuit (Eskimo) music, and various African, Asian and Amerindian influences abound in their music, along with Gerrard's distinctive low but ethereal voice.
In 1995, Gerard produced "The Mirror Pool," her first solo album. She used fragments of sampled sound, minimalistic riffs, and complex overdubbings of her own voice into a choral tapestry of as many as twelve lines. Ethnic sounds including the Chinese dulcimer or Yang Chin, camel bells and drums, tabla, elephant bells, and Greek bouzouki make unexpected appearances in these albums.
Gerrard has moved back to Australia, where she does her work in a synthesizer/recording studio she built at her home in the bush country. She has sung and composed for the film The Insider, Mission: Impossible 2, and the Ridley Scott film Gladiator. Her music for the latter film is apparently more substantial than would be indicated by the selection of tracks on the Decca soundtrack release, which includes only a single one-minute cut credited to her. Evidently, she was responsible for much of the more ethereal, acoustic-based and vocal music, while Hans Zimmer wrote the violent and electronic main score.
He next project after Gladiator is a biographical film of Mohammed Ali, directed by Michael Mann.