Opetaia Foa'i Interview for Disney Moana Polynesian Music

By 12/19/2016 01:32:00 PM ,

One of the things I LOVED about Disney's Moana was the music. The songs told many stories of their own and tied many character scene together so well. 

If you read my interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda then you know he worked closely with Opetaia Foa'i, a polynesian musical artist who's founder and lead singer of Te Vaka.

Opetaia Foa'i Interview for Disney Moana Music

Note: Disney and ABC TV invited me on this all expense paid trip to Los Angeles for the Moana Event and ABC TV Event. While I will share different events and activities during the trip, any personal views expressed are always 100% my own.

While attending the Moana Red Carpet and Premiere Party, I was able to see Opetaia Foa'i and Te Vaka performed live. It was such a great experience that I'll never forget.

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Especially after I had the chance to interview him while I was in L.A. for the #MoanaEvent press day. Besides being such a talent person, Opetaia is passionate about his culture and keeping authentic Polynesian music alive for future generations. He was very proud to have an influence for the music and songs for Disney Moana.

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What was your favorite part in the process while making music for Moana?

I couldn't believe, what I call an aesthetic Heaven, that people can be around a table talking about anything they like and there's no one running anybody down. It's incredible.  So all that's new to me. 

In my culture, music is like breathing air. Some could never understand why I was always, trying to write songs or do something musically. So it was a hard journey for me to "go get a real job".

So I think I can understand what Moana was going through.

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How much time did you spend working and collaborating with Lin Manuel to create some songs together?

Before I became 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.  It was quite an amazing combination. You've got Mark Mancina, who is very experienced along that line. And you've got Lin-Manuel Miranda, who's very good with lyrics and directing.  Then there's me, I don't read music but I do write from emotion. I can grab a scene and get emotion out of it very quickly.

We found that that combination worked really well.  I'm very childish in the Studio and luckily so was Lin and Mark, so we had a lot of fun together.

What's song in Disney Moana had the most meaning to you?

Well, the first track that I wrote was "We Know the Way". I wrote that 2013 on the flight back home when John, Ron and Osnat explaining what they wanted. And of course voyaging is my thing, you know. I'm so excited that I wrote that.

And then we got together in Carmel with Mark and Lin. I remember that we were pacing up and down outside and getting all the lyrics together. Smoke coming out of us. And they come up with those beautiful lyrics and just slaughtered it. We knew something was special about this.

And they were so right!

Written and performed by Opetaia Foa‘i and Lin-Manuel Miranda, “We Know the Way” showcases the rich and vibrant voyaging life of Moana’s ancestors.

If you enjoyed “We Know the Way” and other songs and music in Disney's Moana, then make sure to get the Moana soundtrack.

The Disney's MOANA soundtrack includes seven original songs and a full original score, plus two reprises as well as two end-credit versions of songs from the film.

Disney's MOANA poster


From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people.

During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) meets the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder.

Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

Voice Cast: Auli‘i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Jemaine Clement, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk.

Directed by: Ron Clements and John Musker
Produced by: Osnat Shurer
Featuring music by: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i

Visit the official MOANA website - www.movies.disney.com/moana

Facebook: www.facebook.com/disneymoana
Twitter: www.twitter.com/disneymoana
Instagram: www.instagram.com/disneyanimation

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