Warrior Nun Composer Tangelene Bolton on Crafting Season 2 Score

When Tangelene Bolton signed on score Netflix's Warrior Nun season two, she was relieved to have the creative autonomy and not have to build off of Jeff Russo's work the previous season. Previously, the composer's come a long way since her start in 2015's live-action theatrical remake of Jem and the Holograms working on several projects across TV, film, and video games, including Marvel's Avengers game, AppleTV+'s See, OWN's All Rise, and SYFY's No Escape Room. Bolton spoke to Bleeding Cool about her approach to the Simon Barry-created series and her approach to building up Ava (Alba Baptista), Beatrice (Kristina Tonteri-Young), and Lilith (Lorena Andrea). The story follows a young woman who discovers she has untapped latent powers to battle supernatural forces.

Warrior Nun Composer Tangelene Bolton on Crafting Season 2 Score
Warrior Nun. (L to R) Alba Baptista as Ava Silva, Kristina Tonteri-Young as Sister Beatrice in episode 204 of Warrior Nun. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

A Fresh Start on Warrior Nun

Bleeding Cool: How did you get involved with 'Warrior Nun?'

Bolton: I heard about it through Netflix and my agent. I went through a couple of rounds of reels. Simon liked what he heard, we had a meeting, and I got the job.

What were your inspirations for the score?

Neo-classical and avant-garde styles. I wanted to feature traditional classical instruments and choral elements, and I also really wanted to utilize synthesizers, specifically a lot of products by a company called SOMA. I enjoyed doing a lot of circuit bending and processing. I'll throw in my voice using different algorithms. I wanted to focus on building the character arcs throughout season two.

warrior nun
Warrior Nun. (L to R) Sylvia De Fanti as Mother Superion, Thekla Reuten as Jillian Salvius in episode 206 of Warrior Nun. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Were you expected to build off of season one's score, or did you start on a clean slate?

I was fortunate enough to have complete freedom on season two in terms of developing my own sonic and musical palette, crafting my themes for existing and new characters, and developing them throughout the season. All of our characters are in new situations. We ramped into building all our different characters and developing Ava and Beatrice's scenes, which was fun. It's something I got inspired by early conversations with Simon Barry, and I wanted to make sure that when I developed both, it was something that felt earned by the end. I wanted to make sure whenever I did play their themes throughout the season, it was more sprinkles of their themes that came to fruition by the end.

Without divulging too many spoilers, was there any sequence that took a little more time than expected?

I wouldn't say this took more time, but I put a lot of attention into Lilith's character arc without spoiling anything. She goes through an epic transformation, and I wanted to make sure the instruments I used to treat Lilith were reflective of that. I chose to use an ancient instrument that I first played more ethereally with my fingers in like a strung and cleft way early on when she's revisiting her past. As season two progresses along, I start bowing and shrieking in unexpected ways to show this transformation she's going through. I did the same thing with another instrument called The Pipe, which uses different algorithmic values on my voice to contrast from singing in a very ethereal and traditional way and then sounding more tremulating and transformative for her. That was a fun one.

Warrior Nun Composer Tangelene Bolton on Crafting Season 2 Score
Warrior Nun. (L to R) Lorena Andrea as Sister Lilith, Trist‡n Ulloa as Father Vincent in episode 201 of Warrior Nun. Cr. Manolo Pav—n/Netflix © 2022

Was there any instrument you had to familiarize yourself with that you haven't worked with before?

I use a lot of new instruments, like the lyre, which is ancient and holy in a lot of ways. I used a lot of SOMA products, especially this one called the Pulsar-23, which I circumvent and create an interesting sonic landscape for my percussion. I also played a water phone rhythmically and bowed to create this looming tone we feel throughout the season. I have a few others, too [laughs].

How does a project like Warrior Nun differ from like the other things you did? Did it present a set of challenges you haven't encountered before?

I wouldn't say that I've faced any challenges with developing new sounds for this season. It was fun experimenting, trying out new techniques, and world-building, and this is an amazing opportunity for me to create interesting landscapes through music and sounds. I was inspired by the images, characters, and performances of Simon's amazing leadership. Even early on, when I started reading the script, I was already able to start imagining more.

Warrior Nun Composer Tangelene Bolton on Building Season Two's Score
Netflix

What were your musical inspirations growing up?

Definitely. Hans Zimmer, and then I was lucky enough to start working for him when I first moved to L.A. James Horner. I always love that he's so melodic. He is just amazing, as well as Thomas Newman and Jon Brion. I have so many influences, as well as some older people such as Frédéric Chopin, [Johannes] Brahms, and [Wolfgang Amadeus] Mozart.

Warrior Nun season two is streaming on Netflix, and the soundtrack is now available.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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