At 27, film & TV composer Tangelene Bolton has accomplished more in her career than many twice her age. Based in Los Angeles, CA, Bolton got her start working for A-listers like Hans Zimmer (The Lion King, Gladiator, The Dark Knight,Interstellar), Henry Jackman (X-Men, Captain America), and Bobby Tahouri (Game of Thrones,Iron Man). Most recently, Tangelene helped compose the score for the Netflix Original Series, Brainchild, produced by Pharell Williams.
In addition to her film work, Tangelene is active in the gaming world, providing technical score engineering for Rise of the Tomb Raider (Playstation). On top of all this, she’s performed and conducted world premieres of her music, most recently at The Wiltern with the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra.
While scoring a movie, Tangelene loves becoming completely submerged in the minds of the characters. Since discovering film in her teens, she's been a lifelong devotee of the form. Music is her way of giving back to the medium which has given so much to her. She is also a longtime Roland enthusiast and the brand's history of innovation mirrors her own boundary-pushing output. Tangelene took the time to talk to Team Roland Cloud about her creative process, favorite music, and working with a live orchestra.
What are your practices when writing? Do you have mechanisms or rituals that help facilitate the process?
I first try to get my environment comfortable and creative. Getting the mood right really helps set the tone. I have my coffee on my deskside, I light a candle or burn some Palo Santo, I turn on my salt lamp and either get some sunlight or make the room dark, depending on how I'm feeling. Then, I start writing or brainstorming, depending on where I'm at with the song or composition. Taking constant mini-breaks are also key for me to get a fresh pair of ears on the mix or overall arrangement.
What are some of the first recordings you heard and understood that the production was just as important as the songs themselves?
OutKast, "Roses" NSYNC, "Pop" Gorillaz, "Feel Good Inc."
Are you a perfectionist? Do you see improvisation and error as opportunities?
I am a perfectionist when it comes to expression. I try to give each instrument an emotional arc and I focus a lot on getting the feel right. I don't worry as much about quantizing though, because I like when things feel a bit more human. As for improvising, I do a lot as I'm recording. Errors are huge opportunities. I find that they sometimes happen when I'm trying to explore a new idea that hasn't formed completely. Once those errors or explorations are transformed, the track or cue can take on a new form.
What is one of your favorite pieces of gear?
The Roland JU-06 Module for layering with other instruments and giving things that glue. It really adds a nice warmth and sounds so close to the real thing.
When recording, do you prefer to track live to capture the energy of the group, or focus primarily on isolating the individual instruments and emphasizing overdubs?
I find myself focusing more on isolating individual instruments and emphasizing overdubs to give me more control when I'm editing and mixing. That being said, I still believe that there is more magic that comes from a group setting, for example, a live orchestra. You really can't replace that beautifully full and human sound.
When you hear something for the first time, are you immediately drawn to the lyrics or the instrumentation? Do you believe the preference is predicated by something intrinsic?
I've always been more of an instrumentalist, so I'm usually drawn to the instrumentation and chords first before lyrics.
When choosing a project to jump into, do you cater to what you know to be your skillset, or do you seek to challenge yourself? Or both?
I like challenges, for sure. It helps shape your sound and allows you to continue to grow musically.
How were you able to become a producer? And, is this your full-time job? If not, what else do you do to make a living?
I've always written music for myself, first and foremost, as a form of expression and identity. It's an outlet and an extension of myself and I find that if you stay true to that, people will take notice of it. Honing my own musical identity has been a vital part of my career so far. On top of producing, I am also a film composer.
How often does the studio itself become an instrument in your work? Do you prefer to work in or out of "the box?”
My studio itself is always an instrument. I work both in the box and out of the box too.
Which instruments do you play?
I've played piano since I was really young and the flute for one year in elementary school. I still play piano now and some guitar: acoustic and my Telecaster.
Tell us about your community. What makes it so important to you?