Yes I’m going to admit something crazy about myself, I didn’t know who Lin-Manuel Miranda was before I was invited to the Moana Press Junket. I was quickly informed that he is the mastermind behind Hamilton, not only in the song creation but he also performed for a good chunk of time. Oh yeah…I humbly said and then decided I needed to look into him a little bit more before heading off to my junket.
The diverse and dynamic team behind the film’s inspired music includes Tony®-, Emmy®- and Grammy®-winning lyricist/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, who counts among his credits Broadway’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and multiple Tony-winning “Hamilton” and the Tony-winning “In the Heights.” Miranda is also a 2015 MacArthur Foundation Award recipient. “I really related to Moana in a lot of ways,” says Miranda, who was “transported” by the Clement-Musker-helmed feature “The Little Mermaid” at age 9. “She has a family that she loves, an island that she loves, but there’s a voice inside that’s calling. The idea of quieting life enough so that you can hear that inner voice was something really worth writing about for me because I think it’s so important.”
I feel so blessed to interview Lin-Mauel Miranda because I also feel like a creative person. I love to paint, play music and of course I consider writing a form of art as well. Watching him and taking his pictures during the interview captivated me because he was so expressive the entire time. He is obviously passionate about telling stories through music and working with Disney allowed him to do that in Moana. (oh and look forward to even more of his music in Mary Poppins Returns…I’m sure we’ll be bringing you even more information on that at a later date).
Of course everyone wanted to know what inspires his music so he broke it down a few different ways.
One…He locked himself in his childhood room to write “How Far I’ll Go”. He wanted it to be as angsty as possible but he found it difficult. It was hard because she loves her island, she loves her people but she has to be who she is. She has a voice inside of her and she has to listen to that voice. That’s an underlying lesson that Lin-Manuel Miranda says is important for all of us to pay attention to. We should all be inspired by that voice inside of us and take courage from it and follow our dreams.
Two…He did a lot of writing in the theater. A lot of the early demos are Pippa Soo and Chris Jackson singing, Maui and Moana, ‘cause they were my in-house band. So I have a ton of Pippa demos, um, and sort of calling on, on my friends, like, uh, I think you’ll hear on the deluxe edition, when it comes out, you’ll hear Marcy Harriell, singing a cut Moana song that was called “More”. Marcy was my Vanessa, for, in The Heights for, for many years. So, you know, it was sort of all hands on deck, uh, to help me, um, you know, demonstrate these songs.
Three….The creative team did some preliminary drawings with the water and that inspired his song about Moana. He said that he found it very reflective of the Pacific culture. They really treat the ocean as a living thing. And two, I think it taps into a really primal chord of any little kid who goes to the beach, who punches back at the waves, or builds a moat to protect their castle. You’re talking to the water. It feels that individual. That’s a thing we forget, when we grow up, that we had this relationship with the water when we were kids. And, and that sequence is such a powerful reminder of it. I think to that end, you know, when I’m writing Moana’s tunes, and that song in particular, it’s, it’s a calling. It, it’s a calling, the way I felt a calling to write music. It’s a calling to see what’s on the other side of that horizon line. Um, and, and looking around it, everyone content where they are, and being like, how are you content? Um, look what’s out there, and we don’t know what’s there. Um, I very much related to that. And so that’s sort of what I just tried to imbue, uh, Moana with.
Four….He said he has a lot of musical influences out there and if he were to limit it to Disney he could talk to us about it for hours. I think part of your world, and, uh, you know, look at this stuff, as she’s stumbling, and trying to find the words, you know? Uh, dancing around on those, what do you call ‘em? Feet. You know, that kind of…. or Belle in Beauty and the Beast, saying, it’s my favorite part, because you’ll see…..you know, interrupting her thought to say something else, because she’s so excited. You know those are the moments you chase, as a songwriter, because they’re the ones that really feel real. I chase that in, in Hamilton, when, uh, pardon me, are you Aaron Burr, sir, that depends who’s asking — oh, well, sure. …..You know, that kind of……just feels like the way people talk. That’s always what I’m chasing in a really good lyric.
He also said it was fun working with Dwayne Johnson The Rock. I mean not very many people can say the things he said, and say “you’re welcome” and we end up liking him.
The soundtrack is out now and Moana is in theaters November 23rd. Start enjoying