Interview with Vai Mahina, singer of An Innocent Warrior from Disney’s Moana

From our very first listen in the Moana international trailer, we’ve been in love with the song An Innocent Warrior, which accompanies the adorable baby Moana as she finds out she has a special connection with the ocean.

We recently had the opportunity to ask a few questions to singer Vai Mahina and chat about the recording of the soundtrack and the true meaning of the song. Check out our interview and don’t forget to buy the the Moana soundtrack, available now!

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First of all, how did you get involved in the production of Moana and what was your first reaction when you learned that you were going to sing in a Disney movie?
Vai Mahina: I was called almost two years ago from Julie Foa’i who is the manager of the group Te Vaka asking if I would like to sing An Innocent Warrior for Disney’s new feature film Moana. I was so shocked and super happy to be part of a film that would represent my family and culture in a beautiful way.

Can you talk about the process of recording the songs and the music?
I recorded An Innocent Warrior in my hometown of Auckland, New Zealand with Opetaia Foa’i. And with the rest of the music (soundtrack) was with the Te Vaka crew members at the Warner Brother Studios (Eastwood scoring stage). It is a huge studio to record in and can be a little intimidating with all eyes looking at you, but I tell you recording it all is so much fun! It’s an experience like no other.

Your voice is featured in the song An Innocent Warrior which plays during a very emotional scene. What was the biggest challenge for you during the recording?
This is a very emotional scene and I cried when I saw the clip. My only challenge was not sounding sick! Yes, I had the worst head cold ever before I hit the studio to record the song. So that was definitely a challenge and I actually managed to pull it off!

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What does the song mean to you and is there something personal that you managed to put into the song?
This song really means a lot to me personally. There is a song called Loimata E Maligi that Opetaia had written in honour of the the 19 girls who lost their lives in a fire on the island of a Vaitupu, Tuvalu in 2000. I had felt such immense sadness because during this time I was carrying my own child, my daughter. Emotion in this song is true to how I feel every time I sing this song and when I look at my daughter and my children I am always reminded how lucky I am, to have them here with me. An Innocent Warrior was rewritten from Loimata E Maligi for the film. I always carry that memory of the girls with me.

Finally, this movie is going to show the whole world your beautiful culture. What do you hope people around the world will learn watching Moana?
It is going to be so awesome to see other ethnicities immerse themselves in our culture and to see this is how and who we are as a people. I hope that the world learns that there is so much to see here, in the Pacific Islands. So head on over! There’s so much to do and see!

Listen to An Innocent Warrior from Moana:

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