The NoHo Arts District is only as fabulous as its people.
We say this because our section of North Hollywood is filled with creative folks who are doing some pretty awesome things in the art world. We have been lucky to meet artists of all types who have contributed to our flourishing arts district. Without exception, you need to know NoHo resident and composer René Boscio. Not only is he doing what he loves, he also found the time to create his own music. He just released his newest EP, “a guide to longing.”
From learning more about René, it’s befitting to say: “Do what you love, love what you do.”
Tell us more about your studies at the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico
A: I arrived at the Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico (I will abbreviate as CMPR which stands for “Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico” in Spanish) as a “might as well” kind of deal. I originally wanted to study songwriting in Berklee College of Music, since I had been playing guitar, and writing songs since my early teens. However, I didn’t come from the wealthiest of families, so sending me outside of Puerto Rico for my undergrad wasn’t the most practical option. As a solution, my grandfather hooked me up with a friend, and ex-student of his, who was the former dean at the CMPR, José Antonio López. He is also a world-class classical guitarist, so I had a lot of admiration and respect for him. He took me under his wing for a year and showed me the basics of musical theory and got me ready for the audition at the CMPR. Once I got accepted into the classical composition program my world was changed. I was discovering all of these new (for me) soundscapes that have been part of our culture for centuries as orchestras, and different solo instruments, which I had never heard of before. And to this day, my favorite sound in the world, is that of an orchestra tuning at the start of a concert. Many doors were open to all styles of music from baroque, to impressionism, to minimalism, to avant-garde. I had a very tough, but effective, composition professor, Alfonso Fuentes, who was really hard on me during my compositional growth, but because of that I was able to expand and always compose only the best of what I had in me.
What made you fall in love with film music?
A: The reason I fell in love with film music was because in it I found a middle ground to my creative voice. As I mentioned, my composition professor was really tough on me because I came from a pop music background, and would always have a hard time creating pieces that followed all of the rules and guidelines in the different styles of classical composition. In film music I was able to find the perfect blend between classical music and pop. It had all of the characteristics of classical music, using an orchestra, being instrumental, being programmatic, but it also had the heart and intentions of pop music, which was to please an audience by appealing to the senses and conveying certain emotions. I also love that in film music you get to help tell a story, it’s all team work with the writer, director, editor, actors, etc., and your job is to drive that story into the subconscious of the audience.
How did you pursue a career in this field?
A: The film industry in Puerto Rico is mostly focused in bringing big films from the states for the locations and tax credits. Which is great for the economy (which you may have heard is not doing so well), but as a student during my undergrad, there wasn’t much paid work to be found, so I set out to collaborate with student film makers from near by universities. The first experience I ever had in film scoring came from contacting a production team who posted a Facebook call for auditions for actors. I wrote them a message saying “Hey, I’m a composition student in the conservatory and would love to do music for film. Do you guys have a composer yet?”, and sent them a demo. Turns out they hadn’t even thought of music (as it often happens, haha) and they loved what I sent them, so I was brought on board. From then on, I spent the later half of my bachelor’s scoring independent films and commercials, slowly making my way to actually getting paid for it. The last year of my bachelor’s, I designed a business proposal for an independent film music business to support the film industry in Puerto Rico, which won me a grant in an entrepreneurial competition, and helped me get started with an actual “career” in the field. Shortly after graduating, Blake Neely (who is now my boss) did a film scoring workshop at the CMPR which I was able to attend. After the workshop we stayed in touch and he flew me out to LA for a one-week internship at his studio. By the end of the week, he offered me a job to be his assistant composer. So I flew back home, quit my day job, said my goodbye’s, packed my bags and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a film scoring career in the Hollywood film industry.
So, what’s it like scoring music for TV shows.
A: Scoring music for TV shows is a whirlwind. As an assistant composer I have to do everything from getting lunch, to answering the phones, to setting up Pro Tools sessions, to actually composing music for the shows. The schedules are usually really tight and there’s no stopping. But there’s a wonderful team in the studio, so we’re always able to get things done in a very elegant and organized manner. I would say my favorite part of the job is when we get to go to the recording stage at WB, or FOX and have the orchestra in the other side of the glass, bringing to life the music we’ve worked on so hard. I also love seeing how music can completely determine the emotions you get from a scene. We were at a movie theater once, in a public screening for “The Flash vs Arrow” crossover episodes, and during the Q&A section, a kid came up and said “I just want to say ‘thank you’ to teams of people who are making these shows come to life. As someone who’s going through a break-up, I’ve just spent the past two hours laughing, and crying, and feeling better because of all of you, so ‘thank you’.” That moment right there, changed my entire perspective on what I do for a living; it was no longer just “composing music” for a few TV shows, my profession now had purpose. We often lead such self-centered lives that we forget how much of what we do can affect others; so now I compose for all those people who watch our shows after a long day to decompress and feel better.
Why did you choose to live in NoHo?
A: I chose to live in NoHo because it was close to work, but I’ve chosen to stay because of the community. I love the Arts District. Republic of Pie is my favorite coffee shop anywhere in LA, my friend Arlene recently opened up a wonderful tea shop called TeaPop on Vineland as well. The Laemmle theater is perfect for a movie junkie like myself. I love that the train station is right there, so if I want to go to the Grand Central Market, in DTLA I just hop on the red line and get there in no time. Idle Hour, The Federal, Bow &Truss, Fat Dog, SO MANY OPTIONS!!! You just can’t go wrong with a community like the one we have in NoHo. And it’s hard, you know? Leaving 25 years of your life behind, family, friends, and moving to a new place. It’s hard to find community and establish new relationships, specially when you’re working from 9am until whenever whatever needs to get done is done. But after nearly two years, and many ups and downs, after finding an amazing community in a church in Hollywood called Mosaic thanks to an encounter I had in Republic of Pie last summer, and everything and everyone in the NoHo Arts District, I’m able to call North Hollywood my home. And I hope to be able to continue doing so.
Tell us more about the collaboration with your alma mater to record this EP.
A: a guide to longing is an EP I composed during the summer, since we were on hiatus from the TV season, and I’m one of those people who doesn’t know how to stop working. It had been a very long time since I had written music for myself, not limited by moving images, so I jumped at the chance to write something without deadlines, or expectations. I originally had intended for it to only be piano and string quartet. I was traveling to Puerto Rico to visit my family, and decided to get some friends together and record the string quartet over there. I did all the music prep and pulled some strings to make it happen. It was such a wonderful experience. We got to record in the same concert hall where I presented my graduation recital. I always made an effort to maintain a good relationship with talented musicians and the administration, so I was able to make it happen in a very short amount of time. I was really happy with how it turned out, but when I got back and tried to record the live piano in my apartment, I realized that, because the string quartet had recorded to a virtual demo piano, the tuning wasn’t matching the piano in my apartment, and that’s when things took an unexpected turn. I was going to have to stick with the virtual piano, but wasn’t loving the sound of it by itself with the string quartet, so I slowly started adding some guitars, then some beats, and then some pads, and then some synths, and then it turned into what is now one of my favorite collection of pieces I’ve composed.
What are your plans for the future?
A: My plans are to make my way up the ladder in the film scoring world. I’m 26 years old, and my goals and dreams are to win an Academy Award for Best Original Score. But those don’t seem to come around until you’re at least pushing 40, so I’m patiently putting in the best of me into my work, and will continue to do so, in the hopes that in 10-15 years, it’ll be my name on the big screens. But I think the hardest part, getting my foot in the door, was a really big accomplishment, and I owe it in huge part to the generosity and kind heart of my amazing boss, who saw the potential in me and decided to give me a shot by uprooting my life into the heart of the industry. If it wasn’t for him those dreams of mine would be way further than they currently are.
Take a look at some of his reels.
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