Film composer Jongnic Bontemps has scored a soundtrack for “United Skates," a documentary scheduled to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival tonight. The film spotlights the black roller skate culture in the U.S. and highlights hip-hop’s influence as a narrative. We're told that Jongnic’s score has "hip-hop rhythmic elements along with traditional film score components." It's described as “instrumental hip-hop” (no lyrics).
Jongnic Bontemps, aka “JB”, is a classically trained composer with roots in the church and jazz world as a pianist. Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, he studied music at Yale, Berklee and the University of Southern California. Earlier in his career, JB worked as a software developer and startup executive in New York City and later Silicon Valley before his startup was sold to HP enabling him to pursue his first love, music. He was selected as a Sundance Lab Composer Fellow in 2013 and received a Time Warner Artist Fellowship in 2014. He's since composed music for over 50 projects spanning film, television, and video games.
Ahead of the premiere, Bontemps has shared "Skate Celebration," a cut taken from the score, and made the following statements on the project and the track itself. Meanwhile, you can download "Skate Celebration" in full below.
"Film music has to tell a story without words. Its job is to add depth and dimension to the images and words presented on screen. That’s what attracted me to the medium; the opportunity to really express emotion with music alone. Dropping tracks into a film only goes so far as they usually do not twist and turn with the action and emotion on screen the way a piece of music can when its composed to the picture. In a medium where dialogue is king, you can’t have lyrics running in the background. Hip-hop grooves without lyrics can be great, but when you put it into the picture for two/ three-minute stretches, it sounds “loopy." That led me to compose hip-hop music utilizing instrumental melodies, urban rhythms, and head nodding grooves that bend to the requirements of the picture. Putting all this together I call it cinematic hip-hop."
"Skate Celebration" was written for a scene in United Skates where a beloved LA skating rink is closing its doors. All of the skaters who have made this rink their home have gathered on this last night, in what can only be described as a bitter sweet home going, as they say goodbye by skating the night away. The music had to underscore both the joy and sadness of the night. It had to walk the line between saying goodbye and the euphoria they feel while skating and being together. We decided to use a wordless voice to express the deep emotion of the night. I love working with voices, as nothing makes a connection like the human voice. It instantly expresses so much; we intrinsically get it. It’s actually the first scene in the movie that I scored, as the director wanted to replace the temp music for this scene right away. This was my first version of the cue and what you are hearing has only been adjusted to accommodate changes in the picture."