Earlier this year, I bought a record player for the distinct purpose of buying an old record that my mom used to play every weekend. “Canciones de mi Padre” by Linda Ronstadt was what I would awaken to on Saturday morning, with the scent of chicharon and camote frito in the air, as my mom would dance her way into Saturday morning chores. Cooking, cleaning, laundry… it all had a soundtrack, and more often than not, it included Linda or mariachis. To this day, I can be taken back to those weekends watching my mom dance around the house.
Music can set the mood, make a memory, enhance an emotion and it can be 20, 30, 40 years later, and with one note, you’re right back where you were when you first heard it. It’s exactly that sentiment, the passion and the memories, that the music in Pixar’s “Coco” evokes.
In “Coco”, music is Miguel’s passion. It’s the fuel for Miguel’s passion and the driving force for him to find his lost ancestor, because their love of music connects them. So, the music not only had to culturally significant, but also emotionally gripping on a universal level. While at an early press day at Pixar, we got to chat with some of the musical consultants about creating the music for “Coco”. Here’s a few fun facts we learned:
- Miguel lives in this small town in Mexico, Santa Cecilia, and for the filmmakers, it was important to fill this world that Miguel lives in with beautiful music and the diversity of Mexican sounds so that this can inspire him.
- The score is used to hold up the emotions of the film as well as create the themes for the characters and explore the environment motivations and quirkiness of the setting of the film.
- “So much of the music in this film is performative and we wanted to give the characters in the film an iconic voice and original songs became a fantastic way to do that”, said Adrian Molina (co-director/writer).
- ‘Remember Me’ is the first original song. They wanted a song that expressed the star power and larger than life character Ernesto de la Cruz, who is similar to Latino icons Pedro Infante, Vicente Fernandez and other.
- In order to make de la Cruz a larger than life type of character, the Pixar team felt they had to give him an instantly recognizable instrument, a beautiful, hand-crafted guitar. Thus, Pixar teamed up with an expert guitar maker German Vasquez Rubio.
- “We focused on being as accurate as possible with the sounds and rhythms and the musicians that we involved in that”, said Camilo Lara, musical consultant.
- “We wanted to do something that is homegrown because Mexico has such a rich variety of genres of music so we wanted to include different types of sound of instead of the traditional Mariachi which is what people think about when they think of Mexican music”, said Germaine Franco.
- Oscar winning composer Michael Giacchino wanted to have a theme for Miguel and one for Hector. He found inspiration in his own boyhood of wanting to do film and music. His inspiration for Hector, however, was more along the salesman type, so he gave him a little waltz.
There’s so much beautiful music, and one tune that doesn’t fail to make me shed tears (I’ll let you watch and guess which one it is). The music of “Coco”…. is just as beautiful as the film. Both the film and the soundtrack are out now.