Like many professional musicians, Roger Neill wears many hats: he’s an in-demand composer for film (including Mike Mills’ “20th Century Women” and “Beginners”), TV (Amazon’s Golden Globe-winning comedy “Mozart In The Jungle,” Fox’s “King Of The Hill”) and radio (NPR’s “This American Life”). He’s an arranger and orchestrator for many musicians’ albums and tours (including John Legend and the French group Air), and a multi-instrumentalist fluent in everything from piano and guitar to the charango and the dobro.
It was the latter hat that became most useful when it came time to create the score for his latest project, HBO Max’s teen friendship comedy “Unpregnant,” which premieres September 10 and stars Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira. Though Neill had secured his composer role with the film prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he didn’t have a rough cut to start work on the music until after quarantine and remote orchestral performances became the indefinite norm.
“Normally I would have time to put together a small combo of musicians, but this was really difficult to try and do that,” Neill says on the phone from his home studio in Los Angeles. “I play guitar and woodwinds so I could record stuff in my studio, but I reached out to certain players who I knew could do multiple parts. For example, there’s a string player I rely on who did some violin sections who I had record 16 [separate times], since I couldn’t get an ensemble together. Likewise, with a drummer