Melissa Reese, the keyboardist for Guns N’ Roses, is on a global tour with the legendary rock band. When she’s not on stage with her bandmates — “the coolest, most chill dudes ever” — she’s composing and producing music. Melissa has worked with artists like Taylor Swift, Bootsy Collins and more, and scored video games like Sony’s Bloodborne, and PlayStation’s Infamous franchise which received a nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Original Composition by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. Melissa also scores for film, including critically acclaimed director Joseph Khan’s reboot of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers that amassed over 18 million views in two days, to his newest film, Bodied, set to premiere in 2017. She has also provided music for several TV shows including Gossip Girl, Mistresses and Inside the NFL. Melissa told us why she loves her Seaboard RISE — and how she’s using it on the road during the Guns N’ Roses tour.
What are some of your earliest memories of creating music?
I started writing music when I was around 12. I would just sit at the piano. I found my own ways of writing that worked for me, and things just grew from there. I got what you might call “a break” in the music industry at maybe 12 or 13. I was discovered by Tom Whitlock, who has won Oscars and Grammys for his work. I ended up teaching myself Logic, Pro Tools and Reason, which was my go-to soft synth in the beginning.
How did you get into scoring for film and video games?
I first got into it with my partner Bryan “Brain” Mantia. He was brought in as a co-producer on some of the tracks I was working on with another producer. He and I actually ended up hitting it off better than either of us did with the other producer and that’s where it started. We travelled to LA to record some demos for Sony, and from there the phone never stopped ringing.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
It depends if I’m working alone or collaboratively. It sounds funny, but by myself, my ideas usually come to me when I’m in the shower. There are times when I will purposefully take a shower just to get ideas flowing. I have a higher success rate in the shower than my car. I keep my phone in the bathroom with me in case inspiration strikes, and then I have to jump out and record the idea really fast so I don’t lose it. Then when I get out and dry off, I sit down and flesh the idea out.
When I’m working with a partner — Brain specifically — one of us will start something. Then we’ll do this routine where we’re constantly kicking each other out of the driver’s seat and adding our own layer onto what we’re doing. In that case, I handle all the melodic elements, and he handles the percussive side. I handle all the beautiful aspects, and he handles all the dark, gritty, vibey ones.
Can you tell us about your experiences on this historic reunion tour with Guns N’ Roses?
The fans are great. My bandmates are the coolest, most chill dudes ever. They’re like big brothers and mentors to me. For me, the most fun has been playing CenturyLink Field because I’m from Seattle and I’m a huge Seahawks fan, so I dressed up in crazy Seahawks gear. The crowd was totally lit!
What has the Seaboard RISE done for your composing process?
The Seaboard RISE has opened doors in all aspects of what I am doing now. Since I’ve been on the road, I’ve used it on four film projects on top of my performing. Composing can sometimes be a grueling process especially since you’re working within time constraints, and tour can be stressful at times. But the RISE has been so enjoyable. It’s this new way of looking at everything, and a new way of writing and expressing what I’m hearing.
How have you used the RISE in your live performances?
I’ve created custom sounds on Equator that I then sample and use throughout the show. For the producing and composing side, the 5D Touch element has been insane. It’s seriously changed everything. The bends, the slides and the lifts — along with Equator — make it like being a kid in a candy store. I’ve told everyone about it. It’s so new-school!
Can you tell us more about your other projects?
I’ve just completed work on the end title theme for a film called (Re) Assignment, starring Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez, which I’m really excited about. Brain and I are also just finishing a film for Universal called Death Race 4.
Any advice for aspiring musicians?
If you just work your butt off day in, day out, and pour as much heart and love and gratitude into the music as you can, something will always happen. It might not be what you expect, but something will always happen.