Tunes are very important to Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, but it’s sometimes a challenge to give him exactly what he wants, the HBO/HBO Max series’ music supervisor Jen Malone says.
“Obviously you can have the most perfect song in the entire world. But if you can’t clear it, you can’t use it,” Malone said during a panel discussion at Deadline’s Sound & Screen event. “When Sam really wants a song I will do anything and everything to try to get it.”
Sometimes, her cup runneth over: the pilot episode of the show featured 37 songs. But that doesn’t always mean everyone is clamoring to have their tunes in Euphoria. “I’ve come across some denials. We use a lot of catalog music. We are dealing with estates that are not necessarily comfortable with the content [of the show].”
Malone says her job entails having to transform into a veritable detective when trying to track down the rights to songs. She recalled how Levinson was hellbent on featuring a cover of “Fever” by Sharon Cash, but the master from the record label was only in existence in the late ’60s. She then dug up everything she could from Discogs — a database of audio recordings — and the White Pages website to find someone related to Cash.
“You have to go very deep,” Malone admits.
But when she does succeed in tracking down rights, the feeling is — you guessed it! — euphoric. She remembers writing the Tupac Shakur estate about using some of his work and was thrilled to hear back from a woman who supported her mission.
“I thought, ‘This is the coolest text I ever got in my life!’ I had a lovely conversation with her. They are very protective of Tupac who would have been a fan of Zendaya — he would have loved her,” she said. That’s how we got the approval. He would have been a fan of the show.”
Check back Monday for the panel video.