Now that Coco has been released in several countries around the world (the film has already become the highest-grossing film ever in Mexico), audiences are seeing and hearing the gorgeous world of Coco. When I spoke with the filmmakers, including director Lee Unkrich and co-director Adrian Molina, it appeared authenticity to Mexican culture influenced seemingly every decision in making the film. If you speak with those who have seen the film, it seems like the Coco team has succeeded in remaining true to the sights, sounds, and traditions of Mexico. Music is key to the story and it was crucial to get it right.
As part of a preview of the film, I was invited to Pixar to learn how Coco came to life. One of the most fascinating discussions held concerned the music of the film. Molina outlined three different types of music that were considered when dreaming up the sounds of the film – source music, the score, and original songs. All were inspired by the eclectic styles of music in Mexico. And yes, Coco is the first feature film from the animation studio where the main character is seen and heard singing original songs. Before many details were known about the film, there were rumors that Coco would be Pixar’s first musical. That rumor did not turn out to be true. However, even though the film is not a musical, music joins the characters and the story to form the heart of the film.
I have chosen to share the entire discussion’s audio, a first for me – usually, I will spend countless hours mining interviews and talks for fascinating discussion points. However, this panel was different. Throughout the in-depth talk, the musicians played some music for us live, and research videos were shared that had directly inspired the different types of music heard in the film. I believe it is a talk that should be heard in its entirety (there are no major spoilers). I have uploaded the 50-minute discussion to YouTube, so it can be consumed on practically any device or platform. It will not be perfect audio, as we were in a large auditorium, but I believe the audio is clear.
Listen to it here:
A featurette was released by Disney earlier this week that is essentially a summary of the discussion I heard. It provides some great visuals of how Coco‘s music came about: