Spring Breakers season is now in full effect! The film, which was directed by former Kids screenwriter and one-time Chloe Sevigny beau Harmony Korine will shift from limited to general release this Friday; the movie’s soundtrack, which is defined by an amped-up mix of original Skrillex compositions and rowdy rap workouts from Rick Ross, Waka Flocka Flame and Gucci Mane (who also snags a part in the film), is out today.
The flick’s pre-release journey has been tinted with a streak of controversy of late though — James Franco’s character, a flashy Floridian drug-peddler named Alien who sports braids, sunglasses and a lurid array of lounge wear was supposedly based on the modern reality-TV-to-rap-star phenomenon Riff Raff. That was until last month, when Franco said a previously off-the-radar local rapper named Dangeruss was his inspiration. (It’s safe to say the Raffster wasn’t convinced by his convenient doppelgänger.)
Riff Raff may not feature in the Spring Breakers final cut, but music is still wired through the heart of the movie as the on screen action sees a quartet of shenanigan-seeking college girls increasingly ushered into a criminal underbelly by the rascally Alien. The man trusted with compiling the sonic backdrop is Randall Poster, something of a soundtrack superstar who has clocked up over 50 movie credits. So before Poster heads off to Germany to work on his next project, Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, Hive hit him up to get the insider’s account on harnessing Skrillex‘s brooding EDM tones for dramatic effect, syncing the movie’s story with the music, and, yep, the ol’ Riff Raff vs. James Franco allegations.
How did you get involved with the soundtrack to Spring Breakers?
I’ve been working with Harmony ever since Kids so we sort of have this ongoing dialogue about his movies and music in his movies. So my long history with Harmony was what brought me to Spring Breakers.
How did Harmony Korine pitch the idea of the movie to you?
He didn’t sum it up, he sent me the script. So I got to sort of see what the schematic was and was able to respond to that. My first thoughts when I read the script was that it was a movie I wanted to see.
What’s the first step in soundtracking a movie like Spring Breakers? Do you send Harmony a big list of songs that you think could work well?
No, it’s more organic with Harmony. For instance, we knew that Gucci Mane was going to be in the movie so we knew that there was going to be a hip-hop element to the movie. And we knew that there was the notion of having a Britney Spears performance in the film. And then there was the combination that Skrillex and [one-time Red Hot Chili Peppers member] Cliff Martinez would be working together on some of the music, so we knew that would mean there would be this electronic currency running through the movie. Skrillex really worked hand-in-hand with Cliff so there really is a really incredible dense musical fabric that the two of them have woven together. There’s a lot of music in the movie. So things came together naturally after we knew we had all that to start from as the basis.
Whose idea was it to involve Skrillex?
Harmony had really hipped me about working with Skrillex so we worked together to bring him into the fold.
Were you aware of much of Skrillex’s work before Spring Breakers?
Yeah, I was becoming increasingly aware of the reach of his audience and I knew it and I thought that it would be something that would really give a lot of dimension and relevance to the film.
Skrillex’s music makes up a large part of the soundtrack. Did you give him much direction when it came to the songs he was writing for the movie?
I think he and Harmony had an ongoing dialogue. It was about him responding to the script and responding to specific scenes when he was writing his music for it. Again, it’s really an organic development when it comes to this type of situation. Spring Breakers is a very poetic film so I think that you can’t really go into it with too many set musical notions — you have to let it breath and evolve.
What do you think of the songs Skrillex came up with?
I think that his music feels very now yet also, within all of its energy and fever, it really has a lot of deep emotion. I think it’s the emotional content that really works well within the context of this movie.
Were there any songs that you wanted to feature but couldn’t clear or commission?
No, there weren’t, no. That’s my promise to my filmmakers — that I’ll bring in everything they want to. We were lucky that Harmony has a great reputation among the artistic community and people were very responsive to collaborate with him. And in terms of my experience in working on films, people tend to know that I like to work on movies that they can stand behind and have a certain artistic credibility.
The other part of the soundtrack is made up of mostly hip-hop artists.
Yeah, there’s Skrillex, there’s Cliff Martinez whose music is a really major voice in the film, and then there’s the hip hop. These were all things that were part of the spring break musical panorama, so I think [the soundtrack] speaks to the musical tastes and variety of the audience and the characters themselves, you know? It’s kids who are into EDM and kids who are into hip hop and rock, so we embedded all those flavors in the soundtrack.
What does Gucci Mane bring to the soundtrack?
I think his input just feels very straight and real. It doesn’t feel very contrived. It summons up a very credible voice; I think it’s very strong and very definitive and it’s very undiluted.
How did you come across Dangeruss, the rapper from Florida?
He was a local rapper and I think that he was somebody who fell into the creative fold. He’s in the film. He’s just sort of a sidekick or counterpart to James Franco’s character in the movie.
Had you heard any of Dangeruss’s music before?
No, I hadn’t. I think he was there when they were shooting. He was on location and we became aware of it when we were on location and in pre-production.
What do you think of his song on the soundtrack, “Hangin’ With Da Dopeboys”?
It’s a hip-hop anthem.
Are you aware of Riff Raff’s claims that James Franco’s character was originally based on him?
Yeah, you know, I haven’t really been playing attention to it. [Pauses.] I think the character Alien is born primarily out of Harmony’s imagination and I think Dangeruss, he clearly captivated Franco’s imagination and was there on set and is in the movie, so I don’t really know very much about what Riff Raff is saying.
What part of the soundtrack are you most proud of?
I think I’m excited about the collision of pieces against one another. I think it really captures the sense of the spirit of the movie and its diversity and its confluence of spirit that Harmony really speaks to in the movie in its entirety.
Then the soundtrack ends with an Ellie Goulding song, right?
It does! I think that pretty much when we got to the end of the movie the song “Lights” seemed to be the logical choice. We didn’t play around with other options for that too much.
Are there any movies that you’re jealous someone else got the opportunity to soundtrack?
I don’t know that I’m jealous of it as much as I appreciate it. So like I really appreciate Quentin Tarantino’s soundtracks. Through those, I’ve really opened up my eyes and ears to music that I wouldn’t necessarily have been playing otherwise. That’s part of the great thing about this job.