This post was written by Tangelene Bolton

I knew UNSEEN would be a project where I could take on a new musical and sonic approach to scoring. When Yoko Okumura, our incredible director, asked if I would be interested in writing the music for her feature directorial debut, I was immediately down. She’s a bold director and a creative risk-taker with concepts and ideas that are always exciting to be a part of. I knew that this was something that I could run and have fun doing so.

I utilized both musical themes for different characters as well as manipulating sound to act as a bed for the anxiety we feel throughout the course of the film. One of our leads, Emily (Midori Francis), is running in the woods from her crazy ex-boyfriend Charlie (Michael Patrick Lane), so I wanted the music to feel derived from that environment.

I captured electromagnetic landscapes of trees, leaves, and our natural world, just like we witness on-screen as Emily is lost in the woods surrounded by trees and leaves. I turned those noises into gritty, metallic, synth pulses.

Tangelene_bolton_headshot_new_3_20221002_photographer_hotae_alexander_jang_0Tangelene BoltonCredit: Hotae Alexander Jang

Okumura also mentioned early on that she wanted a score that was derived from metal music and grittiness. I utilized an 8-string guitar that I bowed to symbolize Emily’s abusive, lurking ex-boyfriend who is trying to hunt her down. I manipulated female vocals to symbolize the dualities of the Asian-American female voice that has been suppressed and diminished in society and I broke out of that with punk-rock guitars and fast-moving drums.

I enjoyed manipulating my voice using a vocal algorithmic processing unit that I incorporate into a lot of my scores. It gave me the ability to process my voice in both muffled and distorted ways. I also enjoyed putting myself out in the natural world, recording the electromagnetic landscapes of trees, leaves, etc.

Unseen2_0'UNSEEN'Credit: Blumhouse

Overall, the process was pretty collaborative too. I especially loved just hanging out with my director Yoko and our editor Michael Block in my studio, perfecting the score together and just having fun eating Porto’s and drinking coffee. We created something memorable together and the process is what it’s all about!

Working at Hans Zimmer’s studio at the beginning of my career opened my eyes to the various scoring approaches of many A-list composers. That’s where I learned about using technology and using unconventional approaches as a source of creativity. My composing mentor, Bobby Tahouri, taught me a lot about sampling and making that a part of the composing process in his work for Rise of the Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics/Microsoft & Square-Enix).

Unseen1_0_0'UNSEEN' posterCredit: Blumhouse

I took this approach when I composed Season 2 of Warrior Nun on Netflix by sampling a few different waterphones, then reversing and manipulating them, running electric guitars through various combinations of pedals, as well as creating percussive grooves with hardware synthesizers and organismic drum machines like the Pulsar-23 through circuit bending.

When I scored UNSEEN, my goal was to continue with this approach but to make it even more tangible and immersive.

This post was written by Tangelene Bolton

Tangelene Bolton is a Filipina-American film, TV, and media composer based in Los Angeles, CA. She first got her start working for A-list composers Hans Zimmer (The Lion King, Gladiator, The Dark Knight, Interstellar), Henry Jackman (X-Men, Captain America), and Bobby Tahouri (Game of Thrones, Iron Man).