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“Euphoria, trauma, exhaustion, raving and nostalgia” – How to Have Sex composer James Jacob curates a playlist of bangers
By Ella Joyce | Film+TV | 2 November 2023

Still, How to Have Sex by Molly Manning Walker, 2023

Having already bagged the Un Certain Regard prize and receiving a standing ovation at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Molly Manning Walker’s feature film debut How to Have Sex is one of the most talked about movies of the year. The British director’s inaugural work follows a group of teenage girls on a post-exam trip to the Greek island of Malia, a holiday destination for those seeking a debaucherous retreat fuelled by drugs, alcohol and sex. The seventeen-year-old protagonist Tara is played by Mia McKenna-Bruce, whose life is irrevocably changed amid the mayhem of the Malia strip when she’s separated from her friends and exposed to the harsh realities of coming of age in a world with cruel intentions.

Despite Walker’s hard-hitting subject matter, a film set in the pulsing clubs of Malia wouldn’t be complete without a hard-hitting score and British producer James Jacob delivered. Having begun his career DJing at pool parties and club nights in Magaluf and Ibiza, Jacob knows how to fill a dance floor and keep a crowd moving into the early hours. Working closely with Walker to harmonise the score with the emotional intention of each scene, Jacob blends delicate strings with oscillating electronica. Sighting Bicep’s seminal track Glue, Eliza Rose’s song of the summer B.O.T.A and Fred Again’s collaboration with Romy as inspiration, here, Jacob curates a playlist set to transport you to a sweaty, thumping club as the bassline rings in your ears.

Strong by Romy and Fred Again…
“Before anything was even shot we sat with the script and listened to loads of music. Strong was something that Molly played as inspiration for the mood of the film and score in general from the very start. It was sent directly to Molly from Romy as it hadn’t been released at the time. When we were in the studio playing around with placement it felt like it fitted perfectly at the end. A euphoric, reassuring banger to lift the viewer up after a roller coaster of emotions. I created a string arrangement that sets up and blends into the intro of the song with the full drop landing on a black screen and then into the credits.”

Head And Heart by Joel Corry and MNEK
“This is essentially the non-stop party anthem of the film. We wanted something that encompassed the location, demographic and the nostalgia of having a ‘song of the holiday’. We felt this was enough of an earworm, timeless and if played enough, quite fatiguing.”

You And Me (Flume Remix) by Disclosure
“This song was a last-minute addition to a scene that we found very difficult to place music or score. It’s used in a slow reflective pool party scene. I had many attempts at making something more bespoke but it never seemed to sit right so we moved on to try placing other songs instead. This remix seemed to work particularly well with how it slowly builds and drops half-time.”

B.O.T.A by Eliza Rose
“While shooting the film on location in Maila Greece in 2022 this was constantly playing in all the clubs. It was one of the main inspirations for the mood of the film. Dreamy and ravy.”

Glue by Bicep
“This anthem of a dance track just seemed to set the overall emotional tone of the film. A reference for the score– coming of age, euphoria, trauma, exhaustion, raving and nostalgia.”

Who You Are by Gaullin
“This song is used in a pivotal moment in the film. The character is in a dark place and escapes into the music. It’s a great blend of club and emotional ambience.”

Skyscrapers by Nina Kraviz
“This track was a reference for the more industrial and chaotic club moments. Heavy kicks and gritty bass.”

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