**I received an all expense paid trip thanks to Disney. All my opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources. Photo credit given to Disney and Louise from MomStart*
I am totally and utterly OBSESSED with Hamilton! No joke in that I probably listen to the soundtrack at least 3 times a day on repeat at work. I got all my dental patients into Hamilton. It is like a jam session every single day. That is why I was practically fainting that I was able to meet the musical genius and mastermind behind Hamilton who happens to be the musical genius and mastermind behind Moana.
I am talking about none other than the FABULOUS Lin-Manuel Miranda! His music is so good that I think he needs a ‘musical greatness category’ just for himself. This past Friday his Moana soundtrack was released and of course, I immediately went to Target to buy it. Now myself and my 8 year old daughter can practically sing every single song on the soundtrack. People the MUSIC IS WICKED GOOD!!!
Having the honor to interview Lin-Manuel Miranda was AMAZING! He was so personable, gracious, and funny when we interviewed him a few weeks back. He is also really awesome for tweeting out his meeting with us 25 bloggers. There is no better words to describe him than using the definition of AMAZING, COOL, GENIUS, and RIDICULOUS (talking strictly about his ridiculous talent). I hope you enjoy my interview as much as I enjoyed it that day!
MY INTERVIEW WITH LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA:
Question 1: Okay, so you’re such a huge Disney fan. What is it like to be a part of the Disney family now?
In true Lin-Manuel cool lingo, he said it was pretty dope. He told us from the first moment it was like a kid in a candy store. He loves the Hollywood experience but he says there is nothing like a Disney experience. He loves all the story tables that you do and loves the dynamic of sitting at a table getting notes from fantastic people like Jen Lee, the co-director of Frozen, from Pete Docter, who’s working on Inside Out, and did Big Hero 6.
Question 2: So what, what was the timeline as far as working on Hamilton and Moana? Were you working on them at the same time?
He told us he found out he got this the same exact day he found out he was going to be a dad. It was so sweet how he talked about this and the dynamic he has with his son, Sebastian.
“And so, he’s been the marker of time for me. And I’ve been writing. And then, it was a great oasis, during the writing of Hamilton, because any time I was sick of the founders, I’d go sail across the sea, over to Maui and Moana. And then we just built it into my crazy schedule. Like, Tuesdays and Thursdays, I didn’t do any press, I didn’t do any meetings, I just wrote all day, because I would meet with the creative team at five p.m. And then I would have my seven o’clock curtain. So I did a lot of writing in the theater. A lot of the early demos are Pippa Soo and Chris Jackson singing, Maui and Moana, because they were my in-house band. So I have a ton of Pippa demos and calling on my friends. I think you’ll hear on the deluxe edition, when it comes out, you’ll hear Marcy Harriell,singing a cut of Moana’s song that was called “More”.
He told us the two was happening concurrently. His work finished at the time his run ended.
Question 3: Had I not known that you’d written those songs, I could’ve said, hey, that sounds like a lot like Lin-Manuel Miranda, that’s amazing. So what was your favorite song to write?
“Well isn’t that crazy, first of all? I feel like, style is like accent. Like, you don’t hear it on yourself, and then everyone’s like, man, you got a strong accent. I think there’s a couple of songs. I’m really proud of ‘How far I’ll go.’ I literally locked myself up in my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house, to write those lyrics. I wanted to get to my angstiest possible place.”
He told us various songs had story repercussions and the screenwriters took that ball and ran with it. It was the sort of give and take between the songs, and the story at large. He told us that was the real key to unlocking her.
“Really nailing that moment of it’s not about being miserable where you are. You know, I was 16 years old, and I lived on 200th Street, in New York, and I knew what I wanted to do for a living, and I knew where I was, and the gulf just seemed impossible. I mean everything just seems so far when you’re that age. So that’s what I sort of tapped into to write that tune.”
Question 4: Along those lines, what was your inspiration for writing Moana’s particular songs?
He told us a lot of the template was set by their creative team. The first thing they animated was the water scene with Baby Moana.
“And to me, that’s so reflective of Pacific culture, that really treats 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 when I’m writing Moana’s tunes and her song in particular, it’s a calling. 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. And looking around it, everyone content where they are, and being like, how are you content? Look what’s out there, and we don’t know what’s there. I very much related to that. And so that’s sort of what I just tried to imbue Moana with.”
Question 5: Is there someone you look up to when you write your music?
He told us there is so many. He told us if he was just going to limit it to Disney he could talk for three hours about it.
“You know, I chased Ashman Menken, I chased Sondheim. I chased Jonathan Larson, I chased Biggie, I chased Tupac. And in falling short of all of those, I ended up with that style that is an accent I can’t hear. Howard Ashman is sort of the master of the lyric that is both iconic and conversational that I strive for.”
Question 6: You’re very prolific, and you have done so many things in a very short span, compared to a lot of people, like, you’ve won awards that most people don’t win for 20 years. You obviously will never be satisfied with what you’ve done, and you will continue to write like you are running out of times.
He told us he absolutely loves what he does and is excited for the future. He strives to do the best for himself and his audience.
“I think you balance the things you’ve been dying to do all your life. And the opportunities that come along, that you didn’t maybe think of, that are so amazing, that you’d kick yourself if you didn’t try to be a part of them. So to that end, is Mary Poppins Returns. You know, who do you dream that there’d be a sequel to Mary Poppins, much less, you get to go and sing and dance with Mary Poppins all day. And then there’s the ideas that are still in my head, that were around before Hamilton, that was like, we were here before you were cool. Don’t forget to write us! I will continue to sort of balance those things. But I also want to stay open. I think every writer’s had the experience of having a really good idea, waiting to write it, and then once you write it, you’re like, oh. But if something sort of sticks the next day, there’s probably something to it. That sort of, ‘I just sort of really try to trust my gut on’, on all that stuff.
Question 7: The song “You’re Welcome” is super catchy, and we stop can’t singing it. What was it like writing for Dwayne Johnson?
He told us it was a blast.
“There were only two vocalists that I knew who I was writing for when I was writing. We did a worldwide search for Moana. And so those songs were pretty much in place by the time the cast fully signed on. But I knew The Rock was involved, and I knew when he had the meeting, he said, oh, Lin’s writing it, can I rap? I wasn’t planning to write a patter section, but, you know, I serve at the pleasure of the president.”
“That was fun. It allows us to get a lot of information in about Maui. Maui plays a different role in almost every island. In some, he’s more of a trickster god, in some, he’s a really super-serious demigod. In some, he’s Bugs Bunny. We got to write our version of him. And also, who else can pull off the lyric, you’re welcome, and still have you like him?”
“ But he sings it, and he arches his eyebrow, and he grins, and you’re like, I love this guy. So that was also the joy of getting to write this really healthy sense of self song and know that it’s going to win people over.”
Question 8: What was your favorite Disney movie or character, growing up?
He told us it was the Little Mermaid. He loves the movie and told us about the day he saw it. Also remember his son is named SebastianJ
What a privilege to meet LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA! He is in every sense of the word, a genius!
BE SURE TO SEE MOANA AND INNER WORKINGS IN THEATERS NOVEMBER 23rd!