One of my favorite parts of the Moana movie is the music. As soon as the music was available I started listing to it. I love the combination of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Opetaia Foa’i. I’m sure you’ve already seen my interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, now I want to share with you my interview with Opetaia Foa’I. The filmmakers wanted to assemble a diverse team. “We wanted to infuse the ﬁlm with music that has a contemporary feel, but was really reminiscent of the Paciﬁc Islands. We set out to ﬁnd the right people to help tell our story in a way that would resonate with people everywhere—and we couldn’t be happier.” That’s how they ended up with the amazing combination they have.
Opetaia Foa‘i, the founder and lead singer of Te Vaka, is a winner of numerous world music awards, including the Senior Paciﬁc Artist award for his contribution to Paciﬁc music. “For more than 20 years, I’ve been touring the world telling stories of our ancestors, who were the best navigators the world has ever seen,” says Foa‘i. “When I ﬁrst learned that ‘Moana’ was about voyaging, I thought ‘when you dream upon a star.’ Everything really aligned with my purpose of sharing this awesome culture.”
I really found Opetaia to be a humble man with amazing talent. He’s not sure what is in store for his future but he was very happy with how the movie represents his culture and that seems to be the most important thing to him regarding his involvement in Moana.
We also found out what it was like working with Lin-Manuel Miranda…
…before I became famous, and Lin-Manuel became wicked famous, it was awesome because we had a lot of time so when we got together, he works very fast and I work very fast too. You know, um, it was quite an amazing combination cause you’ve got Mark who, of course, is very experienced along that line and you’ve got Lin who’s very good with lyrics and directing. And there’s me who, I don’t read music but I do write from emotion. I can grab a scene and I can get emotion out of it very quickly…….I’m very childish in the Studio and luckily so was Lin and so we had a lot of fun together.
I’m no musician myself but I find the creative process of music very fascinating. I played an instrument for over 10 years and it was a huge part of my life so listening to him talk about the process amazed me. Because not only is he creating music but it’s part of his culture.
Yeah, I sort of trusted, that Mark and the Chris Montan and Tom, I trusted that they would make those decisions, you know. And I didn’t compromise from my cultural background either. You know, I’ve got many things that didn’t get into the Movie and um, yeah, a lot of things, they would dutifully say, Oh David that was good but uh, we don’t want to scare the children. So after a while, I got the message, you know, because I’m very, very passionate about, the chance of the olden pre-MIssionary Pacific, you know, who didn’t have melodies but uh, just chants and beats and I love that……. Uh, in my culture, uh, Music is like breathing air….
His children are very important to him too and they are also very talented musicians. They performed at the premiere together….
When asked what his favorite song was he said “We Know The Way”….
….the first track that I wrote was “We Know the Way”, you know, and um, I wrote that as soon as, 2015 and the fat back come when Jon and Roznet explaining what they wanted and of course voyaging is my thing, you know. He was so excited that I wrote and then we got together in Carmel with, uh, Lin and uh, Mark and Lin and we sort of Rembrandt, you know, we were pacing up and down that side and getting all the lyrics together. Smoke coming out of us. And they come out with those beautiful lyrics and uh, and just slaughtered it. And then we knew something was special about this.
He’s such an interesting guy because he said his favorite instrument is actually a hard wood floor. He also said that “ancestors would b e proud” and he found the end result to be “beautiful” and “Just incredible”. It is a beautiful movie and just incredible like he said and if you haven’t seen it it’s a great film to take the entire family to on one of those days the kids are home from holiday break.