Priscilla also has a theme throughout the film, which is different versions of the song “Venus” by Frankie Avalon, including one by Phoenix. “We asked really skilled musicians to just do all these different versions,” Mars shares. “We didn’t end up using all of it. We knew we had extra, but we wanted to have a lot of them.
And there were, ultimately, two Elvis-adjacent songs that snuck their way in. “Aura Lea,” the song that “Love Me Tender” is based on, conveniently happens to be in the public domain. And when Elvis films his famous TV special, music supervisor Randall Poster found a specific Elvis impersonator to lend some vocals.
As to whether it’s easier for Mars to create music for a Phoenix album or a movie, he immediately answers with the latter. “It’s way easier to have limits,” he says. “Sofia knows exactly what she wants.”
So what do the power couple listen to at home, when they’re off the clock? “There’s a bit of Glenn Gould. Pharaoh Sanders plays a lot,” Mars says. “Then we have kids, so they take over a lot of times.”
PLUS: THOMAS MARS SHARES HIS 5 FAVORITE NEEDLE DROPS IN OTHER FILMS
“Take Me With You” by Prince in Purple Rain
“I remember being in the theater when it came out. I was seven, and I came out of that movie a different person. That moment is very specific, he looks at his guitar that he wishes he would have, with Apollonia, and then the drums start. That beginning was not just music, it was like a calling for a great old life.”
“Taxi to Heaven” by Pray for Rain in Sid and Nancy
“There’s a song in Priscilla [“Country” by Porches] that I picked because we wanted a similar feeling. When they’re leaving the casino, there’s a moment that’s slow motion and the light bulbs from the photographers are going. Sid and Nancy, they kiss in front of trash falling in the background in New York City. Sofia loves that scene, so she wanted the same feeling.”
“Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters in Risky Business
“That’s my favorite movie growing up. I could have picked any song from Risky Business because it’s all needle drops. That one is dear to me because when I was a teenager and I had a new pair of speakers, that’s the song that I played really loud to test my speakers. It could go on for 30 minutes, you wouldn’t be bored of it.”
“Rain” by Madonna in Uncut Gems
“Uncut Gems, I really liked the score. Then this came as a strange singular moment in the movie when he visits the empty apartment and you can’t tell if it’s playing on the stereo or if it’s source music. Somehow the aesthetics of “Rain,” the music video, didn’t do it for me. I feel like I rediscovered that song with the aesthetics of Uncut Gems. I was like, ‘That should have been the music video.’”
“Perfect Day” by Harry Nilsson in All That Jazz
“I know Sofia also loves this movie. She even copied the moment where every day he wakes up and he has this ritual of taking pills, playing the Vivaldi. It just gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. When I want to have a little inspiration, I’ll watch it on YouTube.”