NEW YORK – Lin-Manuel Miranda went song-by-song through some of “Encanto’s” hits in a recent interview, from the hit “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” to his self-described “’90s Rock en Español throwback” “What can- I do something else?”
“We are not talking about Bruno”
What I was trying to do – it’s much more common in musical theater than in musical films. You have these big moments where everyone gets a little centerpiece and then you completely smash them. I’m thinking of “One Day More” from “Les Miserables” or “Non-Stop” from “Hamilton”. It’s always such a nice moment when you manage to smash all the themes into each other.
I wanted it to sound like an old folksong that’s been around forever, with a metaphor for nature that hopefully tells us a bit about ourselves. It’s one of the only songs where a character doesn’t sing it. You don’t see a character singing it, and I think it’s all the more powerful because of that.
I took my sister (who inspired the song) and her children, my nephews, to the premiere in New York. I sat next to her and kind of watched her for the whole movie. She’s an easy mourner. It’s really fun to make your older sister cry for a reason. It’s my favorite part of the movie. I turned to my nephews and said, ‘You know, I was thinking of your mother as Luisa, the older sister who has a lot of responsibilities.’ Without missing a beat, they said, ‘No way. This is Abuela. She directs our lives. It really is one of the best results of a family film. It gives you a vocabulary to talk about things in a different way. I remember seeing “Inside Out” with my kids and suddenly we could talk about joy and when anger was in control or when sadness was in control. It has become an easy way to talk about these complex things. It’s exciting to see that the “surface pressure” has allowed people to really talk about the burdens of siblings.
“What else can I do?”
“What Else Can I Do?” was one of my favorite songs to write. All the while, you’re trying to show the diversity of Latin American music and Colombian music, in particular. The 90s were Spanish rock songs. I was thinking of Shakira and Robby Rosa. It’s oddly a 90s throwback to me, much like “Lost in the Woods” is like a great Peter Sitara throwback to “Frozen 2″ composer Jonathan) Groff. It was my Rock en Español comeback from the 90s, it happens to be in English.”
“All of You” was me talking about a great game through the production process and then having to back it up. We were all so excited about the idea of telling a story with lots of characters within one family and retaining all the complexity of it. Then I said, “At the end, if we’ve established enough themes with the different characters, I can kind of mix them up at the end in interesting and surprising ways.” They were like, ‘Okay, Lin. And There you go.’ Then I had to do it, which is much more difficult. You hear Luisa’s song a bit, Isabela’s song a bit, you hear “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” a bit. It contains all the songs while pushing the story forward. The original draft of it was about seven minutes long. They were like, “We’re out of time. You have to cut this.”