Emile Mosseri Walks Us Through His Soundtrack for Miranda July’s New Film “Kajillionaire”
The OST hit streaming last Friday.
Emile Mosseri has had a busy year so far, splitting his time between his new band Human Love and his career scoring indie films, which most recently has seen him teaming up with Miranda July to soundtrack the director/writer/actress’ latest project, Kajillionaire. Last week, a collaboration with Angel Olsen gained Mosseri plenty of attention in music circles, though anyone who’s seen The Last Black Man in San Francisco or any number of Terrance Nance projects should be hip to his musical digs (that said, you may also know his work if you’ve showed up early for any of your favorite ’10s indie acts’ sets).
With Kajillionaire hitting theaters last Friday, we asked Mosseri to walk us through his soundtrack for the film, which stars Evan Rachel Woods as the daughter of a pair of grifters in a very Miranda July-esque parallel universe. Stream the full OST below, and read on for Emile’s commentary.
1. “Love Theme”
This was the first piece I wrote for Kajillionaire. Miranda and I met a day before I went up to Stinson Beach for a month to record with Human Love. While I was up there, she sent me the film and I would sneak off in the mornings before everyone was awake and write melodies for her. This melody was the first one I played for her when I got back and I was thrilled that she loved it so much. I still am. We fleshed it out into this kind of sweeping, unapologetically romantic thing, and it became the “Love Theme.”
2. “Mr. Lonely”
Bobby Vinton’s version of “Mr. Lonely” kind of sits squarely in the heart of the movie, so I wanted to lean into that for the album and make our special version. After Sundance I made a demo that I sang and was cut from the fabric of the score and played it for Miranda. We knew we wanted it to be spiritually connected to the film and [Evan Rachel Wood’s character] Old Dolio, so we wanted a woman to sing it. Angel Olsen was the dream. She has this timelessness and pain in her voice that’s iconic and singular. Miranda and I are huge fans, so she was the first person we reached out to and we lucked out. She happened to be in LA in early March right before the pandemic hit. She came by the studio and three of us hung out and recorded the song. While recording it, it was amazing also to watch Miranda direct her as she would an actor. She suggested Angel sing with more vulnerability at the top of the song and almost whisper, like she was so lonely that she could barely get the words out. Angel sang it more beautifully than we could have even imagined.
3. “Darker Than This”
This is my favorite track from the score. It’s a stripped down and more melancholy version of “Rile Me Up,” and kind of serves as a second theme for Old Dolio and Melanie [Gina Rodriguez’s character]. It was one of the last cues I wrote and shows up towards the end of the film and always makes me a bit sad.
4. “Infinite Love”
“Infinite Love” is a variation of the love theme that features the great pianist Erick Eiser (a.k.a. Hornsbee) and the amazing Theodosia Roussos on vocals. Erick is doing his world famous “sweeps” as we call them, and Theo is singing like a beautiful alien. It’s also kind of over-the-top romantic in a way that I like. It ended up playing over the credits in the film. We wanted to leave people with that feeling.
5. “Old Dolios Plan”
This is our “Heist Theme.” Miranda wanted there to be a theme that let that audience know that this family was up to no good/doing one of their low-stakes heists. Was fun trying to dial this in with her. It was an exciting challenge to make “heist” music in a way that didn’t take itself too seriously and felt strange and mischievous.
6. “Fake Falsey People”
We called this one “Call Me Hon” at first and it was somehow the toughest nut to crack out of all of ’em. Every movie has one of these cues. One that has, like, thirty versions and is the most satisfying thing when it’s finally done. It was tricky to get it right, but I loved working on it. It had to feel like a long slow simmer, but with some kind of movement inside of it so that it never felt like a snoozefest, and then builds into this climactic, liberating moment. It kind of mirrored the feeling of finally finishing it!
7. “Rile Me Up”
“Rile Me Up” is kind of the younger/sexier theme for Old Dolio and Melanie. The idea was that when they break away from OD’s parents they have their own music. Was also fun to have some beat-driven music with fuzzed-out guitars and some stressed-out synths to give it some teeth. Was lucky to work with a director that’s open to and pushes for that kind of thing.
This piece was actually written and performed by an amazing composer named Summer Mastous, who is an old friend and bandmate of Miranda’s. It’s a gorgeous piece that Gina Rodriguez’s character Melanie plays in the film. When I first started to score it, “Melusine” and “Mr. Lonely” were the two songs that were baked into the movie. I was excited to write music that would live alongside such beautiful pieces.
9. “Bubbles Inc.”
Here is our heist music reimagined when we see Old Dolio and her folks in the Bubbles Factory where they live. Kent Sparling, a composer/sound designer/overall sonic wizard who dubbed the film, created this rhythmic loop of bubble and factory sounds that shows up whenever we are in the vicinity of their home. I wrote this cue to fit into the sonic world he created. It’s cool when sound design and score bleed into one another. Kent is brilliant and it was fun to work with him on this one.
10. “Bubbles Beat”
“Bubbles Beat” is a kind of modern version of the heist/bubble music. It didn’t end up in the film, but I always liked it. That’s what’s nice about score albums, you can scoop up your favorite scraps and pieces that got left behind and give them a home.
We used to call this one “Sad Dolio.” It’s Old Dolio’s theme for feeling disconnected and invisible to her parents. It’s kind of a drunk, melancholic reimagination of a bunch of different musical themes from the movie.
12. “After the Quake”
“After the Quake” shows up in my favorite scene in the film. It’s when Old Dolio has been given a new lease on life and sees the world (and a minimart) with the fresh eyes of a child or someone on molly. The music had to capture this sense of wonder. It’s got a bit of a Nino Rota strange romantic vibe that was fun to write. Also, Theo is singing some crazy high theremin stratosphere notes that I love.
13. “Our Love”
Here’s another one that doesn’t appear in the film. I wrote this for the album. It’s a slower variation on “Love Theme.” I wanted to end the record with this stretched out and more calming version of that melody. Maybe so the listener can live in that space a little longer. It felt like a good way to bookend the whole thing and the right feeling to land on.