« WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Episode 759 - Lin-Manuel Miranda

2016-11-13 | 🔗
Lin-Manuel Miranda is not only the creator of Hamilton and In The Heights, he's also a long-time WTFer. So he's well prepared to get into everything with Marc during a visit to the garage, including his multicultural upbringing, his early exposure to both hip hop and musical theater, his reasons for making Hamilton, and what "Weird Al" Yankovic has to do with all of it.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
A guy. I goods do this. How are you what the fuckers, what the fuck buddies, what the fuck and hears, what the fuck mix, what the buccaneers does what's happening? a marked mare- and this is my show, w e f- welcome to a happier here. Hope you're holding up. I should tell you My guess today is the creator of the musical hamilton eve wrote in performed in it an amazing piece of work. Lynn, manuel and is here today talk to him in a little bit what happening I will be in nashville at the james k, poke theatre this saturday than nineteen. You got a deputy ipod dot com for tickets. I am also going to be in You can go Chicago.
on december- sir third- to show- the vic seven thirty in a ten. I believe again, dvd dot com. Swash tour: you get, the information for tickets links to tickets come on out now talk, let's hang talk. I did a very wages and somewhat scary thing. Today, I did. I did something I didn't think I would do. I didn't think I had it in me to do it. but maybe, as some of you can do it too, I don't know I've. Maybe it's not right for you. Maybe it's too much. But I'm pretty proud of myself proud to be american. I am also proud that that I twitter off my phone fucking gone hit the little at watch to go away and felt a relief. I felt a freedom from the bondage of self in whose post traumatic stress disorder,
feeling the need to connect and react. and never ending stream of garbage from the inner. It cesspool, I'm not saying about my friends, you can all fight the good fight. Gonna fight it but death. I needed, collect my thoughts I need to look around me: I need it to be my car and not risking my life to a too, act, angrily to a tweet I've really tweeted much in a couple days, because I had the adult Energy is being misused. no way to work. Let love in and figure out the next right thing to do is if you can see we consume and then jacking your goddamn endorphins jacking, ura, cortisol levels, this to sky rocketing. Sir viable heights, just by engaging with eggs and a hostile avatars of different sorts visa. The front
of cowards and just people that want to annoy you fuck it. I got it off my phone and now I can walk in it's weird. You get this. It's almost like. phantom win thing we reach for my thoughts, am, I got to. Ah it's not there, who will be the panic, hey, wait, a minute say hi to that guy how's it going man, I'm alright. What, it's a sample of dog food of dogs and cats curve. clearly not reference, but it just happened down to pet food stores. So look I'm try to get on with my life and process. My feelings does hanging over you like some sort of chronic, No sooner. well, yeah those eyes as pre good omelette. God it's what's happened, I mean I can go, see a movie that was, but that was a good movie. That was great. It was a sigh fi movie kind of fantasy. That was so, uplifting, alien, save the world kind of thing you I just one side, arrival.
I enjoy dagger think about a little bit. Oh my god, that's still happening. It still happened so that that that's gonna be the way it is for those You feel that way, and yet there is theirs Besides the everything but look, you know I went out and did some comedy start to really kind of parts You know what it means to be a comic to stand up. And and be heard and be funny and not to be too strident better figured out from a human point of view. That's the problem with the right now The vulnerability element is that we know we have to maintain vulnerability. We have to move through the world with origin and is. In the shamelessness of who we are and and ios. We do in and what we contribute to the world now. Things that were once comfortable are on to one that could just mean go into the fuckin store for some people, but we are all americans and yet we some gotta put-
back on this gotta fight, somebody's gotta resist do whatever you need to do to make your life means. Thing and to help other people they help other people and the cats gotta help the cats right It was good to get out. Do some comedy cedar cedar, the other comedians at the store, how they're doing it what's happening. Communing with the folks who come out with the audiences speak in your truth can stop. That was good It was good when things get Harry in things get scary, adding plan that rhyming, the the ten of of life in front of you, you ve vibrates, with with that immediacy. You know, say it's it's a time now, if you're feeling vulnerable to lean on people that you love get closer to people.
go out in the world say I'd people makes your people were yeah I'll be a nice. Maybe so, hello to the clearly sad person help people that need help Leonard Cohen, passed away. Eighty two great run: some amazing work, which is the best. You can really hope too. You in this life- and I spent the other night the night that he passed away than I thought I heard he passed away so some of those albums. Songs from a room, I think, is the one. I listen to and I was I was late comer to Leonard Cohen. I tried I tried and. I always knew he was grey nine and I knew it was good, but it was not connecting with Me- and I guess- maybe maybe just for me. It was, as I got older,
I can deal with it now, you know I'm a poetry guy, there's no doubt about that, and not necessarily lyric skype, indefinitely, poetry, guy and just some, so much deeper for me as. as I got older- and I guess he got older, but I went back way back and listen to twelve songs and I am so grateful to have the work that that guy, did a real, then master. A real buddha of the song he will be missed. but we have is stuff. We have this stuff as the beautiful about music, you have this stuff and that this other very therefore thing happened. I dont really used the word. Wonderful that I guess I don't love it. Don't I don't love the word but tat someone reached out to me A fan of the show she'd. She just said that She had all these records, that you wanted to give to Me-
I don't know who she is. She has no of twitter account throwing, he sighed a unique messenger. I goes is for real. The of course had loved to take some wrecked it's off your hands and she goes yes, and yet we met at my office and she brought over like six hundred records vinyl records that I find out where her Late, fathers, collection and in a way it almost felt like this You know you. I could tell that there was a heavy thing. Is a loaded, a loaded shipment that I'm getting but she needed to let go of it I offered her money. She can want money. She, wanted them to be appreciated and I had no idea- was in those boxes. She said he took very good care of them and that Yeah she couldn't move around yo every time she moves. She had swept these boxes.
It felt heavy to me, but then I felt like. I Not only do I love records and of course I want records, but I will appreciate them. I can be the custodian Obviously not entirely emotionally, but of these records and end you know in and except their response, ability. I knows everything, and I somerset stability and a bunch of pre records, but I was a lovely gesture and I didn't take it lightly. There are some gray records in their things I never heard before. Did I avoided some progress that I It's never never really pay attention do there. I'm records and there they. I think that maybe maybe this gift is thing. I don't even understand yet that somewhere in her fathers collection might be a record that changes my fuckin life so I hope she knows that there that that could happen that could have a letter. No names, kristen
and down as whoever you to meet her and an eye I feel the weight of the records and I'm gonna listen to him. in a new things and on that, honor, your weight, old man. So thank you for those alright right. So what's the point right? What's the point? Well, I think, it is you gotta, find the courage, to be who you are worth. There's a lot of people out. There left right people dealing with a dick and exclude in the broken hearts, grief angry. angry hope, reluctant hope, complete defeat, but fuck it man. You know we gotta be who we are and you gotta believe who you are as a good person and- and you got here down that now any be aware and vigilant of of people that that need some support.
We gotta get each other's backs, all people seriously I am a reluctant optimist, but I'm not gonna surrendered ptsd of the onslaught of social media platforms or anything else, you know sometimes in his wife, he requires courage just to go out in the morning yeah, sometimes for people that took courage as that, the every day they gotta deal with that. For years. This is the way it is, but I'm where but I feel good. My guest today is When manuel miranda who were created The musical hamilton. Which I saw in new york, and it was phenomenal and it was a bit
before this- nothing better than people collaborating to do something amazing and proactive that that, I can tell you, anna in in the arts that certainly something that enriches life, don't forget that if you're in the arts, guys Hamilton was a real transcendent, Sperience, for a lot of reasons that I was able to talk to you about and I maybe, if you always in the short time, I told you about how, when there. He knew I was sitting and as they were doing a curtain call he looked. For me and there he met The boomer lives does pretty nice pretty nice moment I was right. It was amazing to sit here and talk to him he's doing. He corrode dead the music and perform some of the songs for the new disney movie marijuana the linen I do singing. I will tell you that are you there right now, yeah yeah, it's true. This is me.
Walking to a lin manuel miranda here in the garage. your mail warning, you want tanks. Have you heard me? sat before when manual. Please pronounce it manually, manuel manuel yeah, that's much better, men. Well, I can do I can do it also just do lend that's. Why is it yeah? I was told by people that absolutely will walk out. If I say Lynn there very sweet to protect me on amendment and well yeah. I can do with me I grew up in new mexico I can. I can. I can make the right sounds right. So our view, however, you come out here. This is all this a new world for you. I've only ever been out here for four work at a really surreal. My first show in height played the contagious right, and I lived my first
Experience living living and allay was living in the w and hollywood invite the worst. I mean it. the boulevard, broke adroit, yet for real. If she had a walk across at sad street with guys and costumes, guys and costumes, and also like, but also like homeless teens coming out of hearing or no one takes, and x to like this hotel, where drake is upstairs right. So it's the dream in the dream deferred on the same corner right and how are you here? I was here for five weeks to acting in that show. That's right! That was the first musical you wrote and dry I did an indirect, no, no tommy kail, who directed hamilton's same guy you've been with forever yeah yeah he's my dude like, I feel bad. I have not seen in the heights, that's all right, no, it's it's not I feel terrible because I know is the first one it was it was I mean, and nothing will ever be, that, like I went from broke substitute teacher to broadway composer when he had opened and you you were broke substitute your butt
We're in acting you were, I mean you were doing thing. I was trying to act. The only role I've gotten was. I was a bell hop on the last season, the sopranos us I'm try just watched it, which episode it was they're going to get rid of something or check on it. de the goat trying to find the haven their hotel a right, ran right. So so I'm just like this trenck doubt bell hop who they ask where the haven and my lines were, I don't know. no and ride off. I remember and I just watched it. You are out in front of the hotel and they're asking where the old hotel was and you were just sort of like dead eyed and they were like what the fuck and I'm so fucking green as an act You can actually see me look down for my mark, oh yeah. I look down to see where I'm supposed to stop. That's a tricky thing. The marks yeah yeah, especially when they make them small because they're getting them on camera. So then you only have a dot and you're like how the fuck is that going to help.
You know. It was an amazing first experience. One could get off any really was as kind and sweet as everyone like state and did his seen. Even my side with. Second, like didn't have time, therefore, a bit player with ease- aid and and did the other side of the scene we did, and it was too late at night in the middle and new jersey and then the other actor. Oh, my god, It was a paul yeah. Well, I'm getting to make out. He turned to me and goes hey kid. When you do the line who would like a real like fuckin, really accent you know so it's funny pits and redoing like a latino accent and the makeup artist just waiting to walk away. He goes. He tries to direct everyone who comes here. Paulie gualtieri was the character tony rick, tony surrogate, whose very soon guy but kid when you do adored like a real fucking acts he's really that guy he thought it was a merry those out. That's like I, so I you I, Obviously I I saw Hamilton and
I was very amnesty. crying not just goes to show but you're walking off. You are right. It means a boomer day lives a big fan of the service. We ass though, and it was you know, You really look like yourself so, and that is the logo of your party is so it's weird to see the logo of this pod cast in the ten throw actually where I was yet it was you. Really you are you. You knew that seats, but no luck, It was like spotting waldo. I was just like oh shit, the cover of that part comes. I will also depend on the glasses, but let's get some of the things I and I dont want to have the same conversation. You probably had a million times by hamilton outside the success, but the one thing that me out about it, and I kept thinking about. There were two things. I talk you quickly backstage with the the other actor. I don't know everyone's nato with chris by extremely ikea, and I thought that was the original cast.
saw yeah right the last it was the last few weeks of the right, but the thing that was great about it outside of many things was. I knew the streets It was new york, so like, set in new york and you're talking about these streets and they have been against wall street and in not only the fact that they ve all been there. That long with that that history, that we forget, is new york history, totally an never think of the founders in new york right, but a bit but new york was the place yeah. It was one of the colonies yeah and he's the new yorker of the founders. I mean that's the guy who never left manhattan was at one of the reasons why found a portal in this story. Wholly yeah yeah, it was it was. I knew
Most people know when I picked up that book really at random as being not not much might cheese on the ten dollar bill is a ten I knew his has was like a not a president, but on our money I knew that he got shot and I also knew that his son died in a duel, because I wrote a paper on that in eleventh grade like you did yeah, you know, I think- and I think I I wrote about that because you know I was an emo goth teenager was like oh man son died and then he died at the same way as before you. his eyes on dinah dual three years before he did and it was like pretty much the same spot and we hockin like in the same area, and I just thought that if it's fucking best new jersey is that new jersey has across the river. It's like that and we're just talking about the sopranos. It's so weird, the time travel necessary yeah that you and I think that place
It is storing specially for people living in europe who have spent time in europe, because arts are ideas of what these places are are so detached from history right, so the story sort of roots itself its it it's time travelling, but it's also the geographies the same, and it makes it a human eyes. it just from the geography totally yeah yeah, so to walk around and say. I can't believe when we're in new york, which is what the schuyler sisters do is, is how everyone feels when they get here, it's a telescope time and suddenly you relate to these characters right. It's not. This other century. In this other period of dress, it's like all, I'm in new york on downtown. Oh I'm like watching the energy and the meat backing district is nice. Now, that's where a lot of it was, I think, go out. Those streets were down. I am acting like one is, is, is there is uptown? I mean they were there all down the battery to the innocent? The thing about that is that somehow or another in in. This is part of the brilliance of the conception of it is that you know you can have a multi ethnic.
Cast playing founding fathers and and people of that time, which are not historically accurate, but it doesn't matter because its new york right its troop in your that's exactly true its new york, another one of your right, and that's that's one of the things I went outside of the money you if you're not, talking about you, Malcolm x, or martin luther king, where people are looking at a going that doesn't look like him. No gives a shit and that this is a human story, that's right it actually it is tennis and immigrants too. It takes them off the money right. It takes them off the money to to cast it. That way, and and and honestly it that came out of the sound of what I was writing it was like well, this is a hip hop, r and b show we need people who can well that shit off right and that's that was really sort of and then tommy in his direction of it, elevated to a principle, or this is going to look like our country right so, but but so what so you get obsessed? this story and eleven gray, but whatever triggered the hamilton thing,
that book by what's his name ron when RON chernow richer. Now I didn't read it's a big book and I I don't I I don't. Even have the attention span to read a lot of books, but when you pick that up I mean what was the what was the motivating forces? So we said you know you know he's on the money. You had a vague idea of who he was. He knew he's from new york, but then you see this book at the book was everywhere. Was it one of those things are targeting young and read that book? I was just in the biography section at borders like. I was just looking for a big book to read on vacation a big bookstore yemen. There were big books, there's the one at the time warner, so you're walks around forever twenty one now yeah yeah, and yet I was walking around and I knew I was gonna on vacation and it. How do you go- and I was I went to mexico- is like a we off a week off from the heights. Is my first that from natural howling that run ran Josiah three years and now also a story about about immigrants in this in any lonely, but you weren't, you ve, been in new york
the whole time gap now grown in euros. Veldt hospital grew up, rose off ass. Well, that's that's! Actually, not far from that borders, its on, like fifty ninth and tenth, my son was born there two years ago, same hospital yeah, it's on yeah, it's it's just a western columbus circle. And you your parents grew up words. What part of the city were you in? We moved my parents met. and n you grad school or both born importer ego. My mom grew up here. My dad came here for and why you sort of a rapporteur rico from ego got a full ride. He's like the prodigy like grab. Waited college in port rico at eighteen, he's the dubious, what are you a hand? Then he came here to get it creation, he was always gonna go back and he met my mom and stayed, and so when we, when I was born my parents, cistern. I lived in the and why you grad housing, we lived in silver towers.
however, that what what streets that's like on third street, that's like right, near Macdougall and all now far from hamilton, yeah yeah, that's totally yet that and then we moved up town to inward, just north of washington heights in like nineteen eighty one, it's pretty up there, it's like by grin tomb around their da grant or in their way downtown know. It's like the way I like north of the clusters. I likewise right and yet I mean an end and because I think those neighborhoods were in such if the shape I had, the rare sort of new york existence grew up across from a park and you know, grew up in a house with a I waited manhattan. Rikers allows are yeah in not milestones like house right, and it was not my dad tells the story we bought the place and there was an uptown irish
and my mom's, the one who interviewed and and got the house my mom's last name is towns, which is a pretty ethnically indifferent last howie that she's well, I mean a whole other story, but my mom's half mexican half border weaken towns is the mexican side. If you go back far enough, it's actually someone actually wrote an article I found out about this on the internet to yak. If someone did my genealogy real live for free and you had no idea, I had some idea. I'd heard some stories, but someone really went and laid it out. You know towns as a result of this guy and his family. Slaves he married his he married his mother slave and ran away. Where was this, this is in a way the fuck out west, and they basically this couple. This interracial couple basically cap moving the towns, family, david towns and his wife. They kept moving and
if they would change the law and it'd be illegal for them to live together and they move further south until they got to mexico and then sorta grew up in mexico and that's why towns, as a mexican last name for our branch of the family, no kidding so he started in the south. Yeah he started the salad cat kept moving because of his love. It's a passion story, yeah it's a passion for the kids and they just kind of kept moving and they knew the inherent want to hide his love any more. I guess so. He'd rather honour the love and keep moving yet to sign into finally find a place where he could live yeah and have his them right, for eyes the neck musical or without an I? Don't I don't. We got a hell of a story to read about yourself, though online. It's a hell of a story in general, because it seems to speak directly towards themes that you enjoy absolutely and its also. You know you think our my parents are both from put rico, but no there's, no one in this country that doesn't have isn't tied to our fucking, complicated rachel history and the legacy of slavery.
No one, it doesn't touch right. You know I never thought about it in those terms as a kid as well, both my parents were puerto rico. They on an island and generations and generations, but no it's it touches every one. I think I think an extra at your event, but not it's weird, because I've been thinking about my own family and that might that you know I go back and made two three generations back to. You know first generation immigrants from europe, so My american history is a little shorter but that american history is much longer. You know, so I you find this out when, after you wrote hamilton yet this is like retailing doesn't like nine months into the run. So what is apropos you to think about it think about like who are the other? Do you have family that that is you're curious about that? You might know that. Yeah I mean towns is a is a pretty you know if you meet most towns as if they're, not members of the mexican side of the family. They're african, and so that split happened at some point in at some point some of those people in our food We said. Well, we can pass right.
We can pass and were mexican and were light skinned enough to pay on this side of the line, and so there's this amnesia whenever that split happened, but it did it had to what that will that reminds me, those of the of the jews that were expelled from sir aim during the inquisition ended up in mexico and sort of moved up in mexico to new met. They found like sabbath candles in some catholic churches that have been going on hundreds of years and native, know why. But it was a leftover tradition from the original jews that networks of that were now. You know. Mexican incredible gets its. It is kind of a group that their these fat, these family history. So when tell me more about like when you wrote the inspiration for the heights clearly comes from me of the neighborhood. You grew up in swami sisters and brothers, yet I got one or two sister: that's it yeah yeah she six years older and you know grew up sort of I grew up in
I grew up in a little latin american country. I mean if you go north of a hundred eighty first rate, especially in the eighties. I mean it was all you know: it's ethically washed and heightened in would have always been in an immigrant community. First, irish and then tons of jews after world war, two and during world war. Two and then huge wave of of latinos cubans and puerto ricans and dominicans in the seventies. It was really a dominican neighborhood. When I was growing up in the eighties. Was there still like? It like I refer brigade pub virus eyes right leafy to their still. They ain't goin, ernie jewish, like butcher, the child apps yeshiva university, is still there. I, u shiva, sort of the cornerstone of that community. I gotta honorary talk, trip from without and but that also an important part of our community and- and so it's always been an end. I saw that starting to change and key
where my co writer and I sort of we both live in that neighborhood now, and I remember when I was in college, the first starbucks showing up- and you know it's that thing you deal with of you know: immigrants live where they can, and they make the place special and then what now and then there's a point where it so unaffordable that the people who played make the play special can afford to live there anti the artisanal colonization begin. For and for tat reason now, like hipsters, you refuse to call themselves yuppies because they dont dress, like not write. A coffee shops are different gather. Coffees, has a different and and also but yeah It was I was. I was seeing that shift happen and that's hard to dramatize. You know it's hard to there's a lot of musicals where there's an outside force change. Gentrification is hard to draw yeah in a way that feels compelling and fuel hot high state
you know you look at fiddler on the roof. Like oh shit, like you know what the outside thread is in that world its intolerance and it's a wave of hatred, that's coming and its even going to break the bubble of an attack on Gaza and this place where things have been done, the same for hundreds of years. When did you first start engaging with with musical theatre that were worried? It took on this life for you, where you could you draw parallels fred too, life. I mean where, where did you start thinking like? When did you first? He did we're on the roof tat I saw feel other if first grade, I thought you might. My parents were obsessed with musicals real ear of the generation that has had cast albums. Next to you know my dad had men of la mancha next to the on warwick next to grant combo in santa cruz, and god that's just the cocktail of
physically grew up with, and also that the benefit of living in new york is that not only when you're dealing with be the sort of the character of the neighborhood. That matters is all all is yet is that in ino, everybody's up in your face, there's no way to avoid contact in an engagement and indoors and acceptance? that because you are and how the disorder say, hello, everybody in appreciative. Yeah and I'm also grown up uptown as hip hop is being born, live in down the street. You can see any fucking musical, you want and you can go see any symphony. You want it's sort of a fascinating place that that all that stuff is available to you, but your dad was. What did he do my dad, while he he he came to the new york to study psychology. Vienna didn't have the patience for it literally or or temperamental temperamentally, I'm temperamental like humans do the practice sessions. I shudder at the thought of being my dad's patient when he because my dad said he'd he'd here, the person can
I ain't, got you said that last week process it. Let's move on to the next thing. I only have ten free sessions with you, whereas my mom's status psychologist is a great guy. Psychology is still a clinical psychologist at a manhattan in Manhattan yeah. She does a lot of custody cases and a lot of child psychology where she'll be sort of the one. You know she'll interview and have a family and sort of help make a recommendation where the kids should go and and really like heroic work. She does and my dad's in politics. My dad got really involved in school boards and community organizing uptown year, because my sister was going through school there and he was just sort of fighting for her and then he he kind of fell into politics. He it it's exactly his skill set. He got hired as the here. The mayor catches advisor for hispanic affairs and his last term. and he went from really against the enemy you're being like. Oh I'm, the his pen exposure
in four major cuts and and with the enemy. Well, you know, the enemy is underfunded. Schools right enemy is redistricting re enemy. Is you know getting getting the same resources. Everyone else get right and then he you know he actually really flourished under catch cod with a guy, if really complicated legacy But but my dad learned a lot about how politics really happens there right damn I'm so you know, I'm I'm the kid whose dragged along two meetings. You know I'm amber sitting and caught his office in the back like bearing the while, like he their fighting about the fighting about in the corner, and catch was nice to you yet catches I spoke at my dad swearing in ceremony. And I was now is my first time it forever microphone, seven years old and
It me and my sister, like sort of did little speeches about our dad and him and like a little grey suit, ha ha ha and so yeah koch was always wonderful to us and we'd go to christmas parties at like gracie mansion, and it was really easy and I was a little kid running around while like AL shocked and jesse- it's like I'm running between their legs and they're, just hanging out there around and so and then he went from there to a lot of different nonprofit jobs. And then, when I went to college yeah, he quit the nonprofit sector because he couldn't afford to be a non in profit any maria and dumb, and he started up a private political, consulting firm and that's how he paid for my school, my education, but he and he still has it yeah. He still has it He and it's it's interesting like we're out of his clients. How does it work? He didn't it does a lot of new york political clients. He ran freddy for rare as me, oral campaigns, he just got Adriano us by ought, as the first dominican elected to the house of representatives, he just got him elected those
bright spots on alleged gave way, and but he also will represent, you know, he's he's fighting against urban life, because urban life is that giant fucking, on the scheme that laminae thing, god that that really takes out. Let me know, communities really really sort of entrenched in porto ego and its in terms of bees an entrepreneurial pass, an option for people to get out. Yes, that doesn't really get anyone know you just get the kid you get their shake. You get your friends and family to buy three things. Yes, then energy sits in the closet, so he fights against stuff. Like that he fight, you know, he's been. He was here to help you know, get the yes network in the bronx because it was insane that, like this cable company wasn't providing the actual yankee games when the yankees play in the mocking box. It's shit like that. Like that's the kind of stuff you well, that's what interesting about new york politics, because it a density, the depopulation, there's, there's always a hands on sort of like fight to be had every morning. Every morning,
an end that it's all very practical, youngest, not it's not absent. No, no, it needs to happened right here right now. It's not sort of like over there, the here, so that's it! So you growing you're growing up with you know a clinical psychologists, too will drain gonna go psychology in your already engaged in the politics of race to a degree, yeah god and you gotta help me or politics is not removable from race, and also there is the idea of of your. How do you make it in america? That's hanging over everything, absolutely and that's what they're in and that was sort of this story of of in the heights yeah, yeah, yeah and its end, and it's also a but the other thing within the heights. The really surviving biggest reason that I started seeing that show cause. I start writing this. When I was nineteen years old was that I wanted to be and want to have a life in musical theatre. I just I was a kid who figured out who was in the school play that was was my corner of ice
provocation in the hierarchy of high school because you get friends from different grades, so Shit gets real in your grade and someone hate someone or you're the bad guy eddie. You can go, hang out with someone in a different way a rise in her eye like whose he's gonna graduating you're gonna, be sad but, like you have friends outside of the bubble of the life or death states that are happen. emotional, emotional, the here and now of a bull shit, sort of status, jockeying and bullies. And And- and you know, existed outside that low know theater, yet it's always shaping its total, safe haven, end and even kids, who were the bullies would would occasionally audition like robin, doesn't want to be right. There. the guy who's, one, no guy, maybe his one know what will be the I want to go home and the football player you be perfect, for the guidance got one line. Maybe those apprise you and sing. While there is a famous alarm of my high school named while his wrapper,
immortal technique he's one of the most sort of politically ideological. He really made sort of an incredible life for himself as a as a rapper. I he was a school bully and he tears arise, kitty throw them in the garbage I got thrown in the garbage by m. Isn't that interesting and and yeah? He was a really angry kid and, and it's it's been wonderful, to watch him grow up and like find a political outlet for that anger and and to know who the enemy, but he was as Felipe and he scared the shit out of us right and but he was in the school play like he got apart the senior year- and I was like, oh my god, I'm going to fucking play with the dude who scares the shit out of all friends and- and were you surprised at that moment by his cause? It's like We want someone. Is your striding, like or a bully like that that you know when they are in a different situation. You concern to see their vulnerability and yeah yeah he's gonna memorizes right right. That's for eta vulnerable place, yeah yeah! Absolutely so I,
she bit or when you first grade, but then do you keep going to musical theatre? Do you do when you are Odessa I mean, I think, I'm like a lot of kids in that I fell in love with cast albums like I've never seen men of la Mancha, I've never seen camelot, but my parents played them so much. I've got this I realized version of them in my head, like that. The arc of this arc of the songs and the way those told a story- and I I sort of found- and I always found the I am I'm gravitated toward. I gravitate towards music that tells stories it's it's from Leonard Cohen, yesterday, suzanne, I think you know I think, of those got puncher got puncher Leonard Cohen. Has my favorite quote about songwriting is being songwriters, like being a nun you're married to a mystery.
I don't know if that that I wonder if the world can handle a a musical not unlike and mamma mia or some of the other ones, so the heavy evening it would be a heavy evening, like. I here comes the ninth verse, but you know he's a he's a a tower, but it took me a long time for me to appreciate him. Yet you know I cause I didn't quite you know reggie Rick is I'm not you know a lyrics guy. I've talked about this for I am a melody guy number of fucking rock guy over meta. Listen like you! When I watch avatar like I'm. I was like the work of our work is on my work. As I dont room, I dont have the reflex of hip hop like I'd like people who isn't a hip hop. It did there's no, this, not an effort to understand what's happening or follow it, but for me just to pay attention to something other than beat
and and melody is sort of like a hug at work. You know and yoga like an old person at that show, I can be I'm sure, there's a lot of like people, my mother's age, going. I it was hard to follow because you gotta, listen, you gotta, listen, you gotta, follow the rhythms and they're not ingrained in me, not behind me. I I like hip hop, but it was not what has brought up with right now I feel that way when I go see shakespeare or even if it's a play of shakes, but even if it's a play, I've seen like I've seen macbeth, maybe fifty times and you go and it's Are you got oh shit? I forgot how to listen to shakespeare feel, like I m an appeal make the first ten minutes and then brain clicks into it like there is a rhythm to the speech and the the contaminated. Then you you go aachen like I'm with it. It took me a second to orient myself him with and I think the same thing happens with hamilton. I think you Oh definitely you you go like this and you clench up like oh there are they going to be talking as fast all night and you you get you know, but now, and then she gets you on your wavelength, that's right and then you we walk in the wavelength but also you're dealing with you. You know that
action there. There are the there. Are people interacting yeah, talking aid, in this rhythm, so yeah that engagement yeah worth not just coming at you. You are forces to feel the emotion of it and then that loves. You that also in a deeper level that everybody soared into songs are pretty. Yes, so I also I know I loved, so I love musicals, but if you're a porter rican dude here europe its bernardo unless I'd story Paul the the porter, dancer chorus line. Who gets one big monologue and that's it and I didn't depth until I was dislike. I dont see I can have a life in this, Also, what what was the reaction on the street oh in my neighborhood, oh, and that was it was you know it's funny. I I got into my school when I was five, so I I heard years ago I went to hunter, which is like this magnet school on the upper east side.
I'd, have to take three iq test to get in and right in kindergarten right. So I had the conversation. Are you literally manuel when I was five years old, and I mean I go from speaking spanish at home to speaking english at school and that in a way. I'm really grateful for it because I sort of learned how to talk to very different types of people at a super young age. You write a lot of kids when they grow up. In my neighborhood and then suddenly there in college and a holy shit, there's no, unlike me like what the fuck am I doing here I had that happen when I was six years old, so I it's you in college at that age I don't understand or got in the schools called hunter college, elementary school, okada, CUNY or got, and so it's sort of a it's a public school. But it's a it's. A gifted school right quote: unquote gifted school and there was some that your parents right we're getting high, get him in here yeah. I do rough time and nursery school at their like we gotta get him. You know you don't we can't afford private school, right, like he's, gotta, be smart enough to get into this motherfucker
so you are able to cross at that cultural boundary at a very young age and became adept. He became sort of. It was second nature to you to deal with the two worlds but like, as I had my friends in the neighborhood who went to school locally, and then I had my friends who lived on the upper east side and did you ever get for being a musical guy in the neighborhood? I got shit from being a musical guy up everywhere. That's part of it of you, I had the advantage of my great uncle in puerto rico was an actor. He was a really famous actor on the island. Actually, he started the actors name in this, the concepts young so my lucky no side of the family who dared normally the ones or give you shit like, went racked in what I acted right. They were, they got it because we had a family member who is actually we made a living at it, so it was, whites as stigmatized as it might be in other families. Yeah I made a living in puerto rico and his his son is still is a really talented actor on the island. To how much time do you spend in puerto rico,
every summer so and I was the other thing I got so I'm switching to the upper east side and two hundred street and every summer I get sent to this tiny town vigour it up with the regal population. I think it's like. Seventy thousand how and where my spanish is so shitty? that, like kids, my age just I'd start to engage in a guy like you talk, weird we're going over here. So all my friends and quadriga, where my grandparents friends like I'm like I'm still close up all the little old ladys who survive who are over there? Yet I was hanging out with them and watching he, man in spanish and watching the fucking flip. The flintstones in spanish was called last pick up yet that I have in this area and others, and so I feel very connected to it yeah,
very connected to it, because I I I and I'm grateful for that too, because it was a it was most. I think a lot of kids whose parents come from somewhere else really feel a disconnect from their ancestral place of origin, and I I don't like I had summers there. I ate the food I you know. I worked. I had a part time job like puerto rico we go, and so that was that that also a part of your home bilingual, now yeah yeah, My my wife grew up in washington heights to and she's in, even crazier make she's dominican austrian. her dad grew up in the city like her. Her dad was like, I think, of it like a character in the bronx, like he grew up when it was like black block. Porter block like, and it was turf yet do up group like it's like a level of mandatory origin, the what you know in washington heights and then
Her remains Austria, like came here as a teenager, and so she grew up speaking spanish. She got scented the are every summer. She isn't it. american republic. So she also had the weird like I have this connection to my island, but I go to hunter and I live on one hundred and eighty fourth street right, and so so, when we met, we went to the same highschool didn't know each other in high school and were two years apart. I always she's she's very uh. Much more logical to me I would say: yes, she was two years younger than inches, I'm still two years younger than you could stop saying at the path it's gonna be that way, but at least you stick that were. But then we re met in our mid twenties and it was one of those like. Oh, we had the same experience and didn't know each other. While we were living through it and you have one cater to. We have one katy turn to you in here,
big, you speak spanish at home yeah. He speak spanish and english smattering of austrian german thanks to his his alma at his grandma. That's while dude I saw so you go to the hunter caught the hunter school yeah and, as you said earlier, at this time, hip hop was infusing that the neighbourhood, and also the you know the culture of of people, your age, and that was really how you thought and and and enjoy popular music outside. You had this musical this weird ingrained in you. This miracle passion yet- and I always I always just love music, the told stories and so regime rob becomes fluid. Yet you know we right. You know at the sounds crazy, but up huge help and that was fuckin weirdo yank of it Oh yeah, yeah like I was a little kid and when listen to weirdo Yankovo. You realize that John was just the clothes the artist puts on right. Orchestration like you,
a poker version of fuckin hot rocks land you like oh, it's same cord progressions the same melody. It's just play accordion and suddenly it's polka interesting so through his parity is you are able to to sort of deconstruct the structure of any. Sort of saw yeah, and you realize that, like oh, my hip, hop friends or alienating my musical friends, but like we just like music that tell stories one of the first rap As I memorized at a great bus driver, the now we had to take a separate bus that took us into school because I live so far from school and our bus driver. I think wanted to be a wrapper. Never it never happened it was It- was billy baker junior and he would do. He would rap to us all the way to school. He would do a charisse one wraps and he would do he made us memorize rapper's delight and one of the ones he did that I memorized that he made us memorizes in my forty minute. Rocket to and from school was called beef by boogie down productions, a careless one, and it is all about being a vegetarian.
and to the idea I never heard the will song until hose in adult. I only heard my bus drivers rendition, but it was beef, what a relief. When this point this product sees. This is another public service announcement. You can believe it or you can't dowdy. Let us begin now with cow to wait. It gets to your plate and how the cow does growth ass enough a man, so he has drugs to make a quick up plan. He as drugs to make a cow grow quicker through the stress, the cow get sick, one want different. Drugs are pumped into the cow one big lump just before it dies, cries and slaughter like and then he starts going on about Elijah muhammad at like it's like. We learn like radical, like don't eat, pork, don't eat. Meat saw her robust on our way to third good. You have that guy love that guy so grateful for that what happened in that guy he still around because yet inspiration I stood still dry
my neighborhood asked aunt em cast a school level there. Is that amazing that guy, like you, know one guy like that, not even a teacher now teacher been guy drive in the bus, was it there Does the coolest people you gotta, see him every day. He's got a limited time with you, but he can put on his own shop. He put on his own shell and we learned mine playing tricks. I mean I really got to hear pop old. All bussing, yeah he'd get us all Can you imagine a god for that? Guy god for that guy, so so hip, hop and storytelling is, is coming in on the bus and listen to musicals at home. I'm getting cast in the school play and then did you do any stuff at school, yeah yeah. Would you do id it might. You know that this is the musical theatre version of who are your guys, who are you guys? Are you guys, eighth grade a play? The pirate king in pirates depends in
I know it's all those ninth grade and that's a big deal to get a big role when you're a freshman. That's like everything you know, that's so that was I'd awry. lived and then tenth grade. I was jude. Isn't god spell eleventh grade? I was the assistant director, for course, line. My girlfriend was the direct. Yeah and then senior year I directed was side story really yeah did you now were at that time, so this is high school This is a gifted school, so yeah, I'm one of five puerto ricans in the school right and also are you learning like? I imagine, you're learning. You know the necessity of of of of lights of choreography I know how you yet other blessing was. It was a student run, show wasn't like a faculty directed show, so you had deserved, get into that debt, that collaborative nature Peter yeah and you learn. I mean I think, the life skills you learn on that you take with you the rest of your life because you can't higher or five
If anyone you have no sway over your fellow students other than get them excited about making something. You know there's no grade for this. It's extra curricular there is no tangible benefit, so you just have to learn how to inspire other people and work with other people, and- and you know that was immeasurably like on your kid- and your kid and you're a kid and you're like we're. Gonna have a secret rehearsal on spring break even that, because we need to have two because we have to even though it you know one of our mandated rehearsals knew you learn how to adjust and then there's the kid was acknowledged going on vacation. You go well. And get firearm, you can't say fuck you, you will make do without you, biogas figure it out right, and so you, you really learn a lot of how to get people inspired and get people going without anything other than the eye
itself? But let me ask you: I mean, like you know, they're a collaboration is a collaboration you you may acknowledge. You know. Differences and uniqueness is indifferent in backgrounds and stuff, but did you ever feel the weight of it being one of five kids in that school yeah. You feel the weight of it. I mean that's the and it's and I didn't even realize I felt because I got there at such a young age. I didn't realize it until I went to college and made friends with other lucky, no kids who had that experience, when I lived in a house or a latino program house, my sophomore year at wesleyan was called like us. yet to write an essay to get in and suddenly suddenly. My friends like also are first generation and- and I didn't realize how much of myself I was leaving at home When I went to high school, you know I loved being in theater, and I have died. My my friends from high school and still in touch with them so close with, but then I got to school was oh like I can share jokes with these guys that I never would have brought us.
Well, rhino! It's like an entirely different level and that's when I started writing in the heights. It was when I realized. Oh my experience in puerto rico. My experience in my neighborhood, that's fair game for me to write about right and, and- and when you bring all of yourself into a room, not just the part that is useful for the person you're talking to, which is something I learned to do very well mere in school. Unconsciously, you now unkind so you go. No just call me land because I can't write deal You ain't man, you know it for call back the beginning of the show marion, said lynn manual, but you learn well manuel manuel we're. Not we. You know you learned at a very young age how to just make people comfortable, and I learned to adapt in such a young age that I didn't realize the power of bringing all of myself into a room or not at all but much later. But that's interesting, though, because Damn is the beginning of collaborating on some level solution in terms of of of your creative growth
that you know you knew who you were. You are ashamed of it, but you and neatly adapted to the cultural I talked about the things that we can talk about right. What was on tv lesson and then at some point you raised like I can celebrate the things that are different and I can bring you something you may be don't know about very good. You know, that's that's! What in the heights was getting up, there was a oh I'm going, take the latin music. I grew up with, and I'm gonna play with that in these song cause. I was right, musicals already in haste and there's no fuck. You did that their celebration that correct guided correct yet and there is no way to interpret it as fuck you. Yet unless you're so yeah unless you're sick? Unless unless you literally see something different as a threat right, but so now they what other stuff? When did you start? You start your conceiving the in the heights. He he in high school, but college can college. In high school did you do any original work yeah I started my wrote. One act musicals in high school. I wrote one my junior year actually did I tell you this. I think I told you this when we
I met after the soundstage was all very lorenzo and the guy who directed my first musicals at fifteen minute musical called nightmare in d major via Chris Hayes yeah Chris says with these political commentator roland rely. We took the bus home together here and we were really good friends use a year older than me. I only I had him in here. You want easier, eight theirs of eight if he has a fantasy of return the theatre yeah. Well, he played z, and of course line he was putting great. And here is a really great dramatic actors, weaker, sweet guy and directed my first musical. My grandmother used to call chris elm, he gunnar because he was the only one of my friends who, when he would come over, would speak spanish to my grandmother because he you know he would always work in summer jobs and he spoke spanish, pretty fluently for
dude and dumb, and so she would always aid on the third day he gonna where's, the mexican and the next day was that so it's it's creates cute and its it's it's moving year, because there is, there was some that working class civic minded, yes, family, that both came from yeah. That's right at that you! You know that you weren't there wasn't! This sort of you know gunning for the prize which I we all do innately but we'd like it to be true to ourselves. I think that some of the somewhat of what that first musicals about right, yeah well in height, sure yeah. De major on the other, with light about a feudal pig for maybe bio, coming back for revenge, that's when he directed that's what he's a historical those of you who will shop a hers was like all this weird dream: right: ok, it was obvious it was. There was a love and then there's a feudal pig and was so fuckin bad. It was like I am just a few
pig, I'm not very big. So why did you cut me up and bio class and she comes back with a knife and threatens him, and then she dredges up all the monsters from his subconscious to hide him like yours, you're alcoholic uncle steve, like here's, your figurehead nurse, you know it's, it was like a really sounds it either. Yeah. I won't I mean for me first, sixteen it was pretty deep and then my senior year, I wrote a musical called seven minutes in Heaven cause right what you know. So I wrote a musical about the first on chaperone party. I went to and seventh grade where The kids are like ready to make out and like do all the shit and half the kids like, I thought we were watching disney afternoon or, unlike still kids, lady you're, on that weird nexus. Right, that's like one of the first songs. I wrote that I'm really proud of there was this little girl who sings you know.
in sixth grade everything was very clear. You guys go play we're fine right over here, but suddenly we're interested in what they have to say: they're, just as stupid, as they were last year, like she's the girl who's like. Why are we fucking with boys right now like we were all fine on our side of the line, and now all my friends are obsessed with making out with those idiots that we were just playing with, which is kind of how I felt like lurching into middle school like what are we doing this or we like racing to second second base and third base and who's gotten to second base already right. Is that a thing am? Are you behind the curve on? What exactly do you do at third base yeah? I I never understood the vast I didn't understand until I was past it to quote karzai. Is that it So I mind it was: I didn't know what a puberty wasn't: love noble task that yeah that's a course that, owing to more specific version, but it's easier to police in their than is a bigger out of work, it yeah yeah. I get friendship. I get
Under the sure, I don't know what happened that that's right, that's right! Yet it we in between thirty hours, involved in between second in home, plate That's amidst all you got what you gotta ask questions at that age. You're not gonna, be ask a question in spain and though nodded and they're not gonna volunteer Judy. I drank white, yet they eventually, man did you ever consider doing straight hip hop, I mean you're, not in terms of musical but like pursuing a career as a as a rapper or hip hop artist, mean ended up being a bob artist might yeah, but I think if, if I, if I had been around that more in my day to day school life, I think that's probably the direction I would have gone We had one really great hip hop group in our school and on and I sort of worship those guys at a ban called do just that.
Out and our group in guiding yazzi Ruby will go you're there like a roots navy at aunt like we were a band and they had em seas and and they were gone and all I ever wanted to do was I was in pirates. Penzance with the main m c from his name's lorn happens is a great guy remand. I would sheepishly be like I wrote this wrap. Do you think it's a good like ass? He was, he was already a senior and he was such a gift. Is such a gift? It I'm say so, but Then I never got any encouragement in that direction. So I just sort of you know it's a sort of blood into the musicals running So when you go to college, you went to what was your wedding wesleyan yanking connecticut. So that's a big shift. That's a big shift, but for a new york Two I passed my drivers test the day before I went to school because you know when you grow up in new york like who the fuck needs to drive into a lot of,
It's very interesting to me, yeah. Anyone who grew up in a city with good public transportation. You don't fucking need to do that. Yeah, yeah twenties, but I had the I had. The luxury of my sister had a hand me down car that she wasn't using cause. She lived in the city yeah and they were like well, you can have a beat up, saturn like if you passed the test, so I pass the test the day before basically learn to drive at school, and when you packed up your car, that was your first big gary. My first time on the fucking highway was on ninety five fucking ends at ten into thinking. It's actually easier. Yeah I mean thirteen. You can relax a little bit I used to love driving in the city. When I had my car there, when I was running up and down the fda are as yet one in the morning to do. Comedy spots was exciting and you have to drive this indicates that run a light ray. I go go all the way downtown this run a green light. My version of that is catching the two three ninety six tree and getting like seventy. Second forty, the closest thing we have the time to write a guy
it can take a half an hour fuck this. The two train. Yes, foam, yup, beautiful yeah! I I still I took the subway to carnegie hall yo. There is great I how many times you take the subway too, to the theatre to do hamilton. Oh I'm all the I'm all the time it was a bit at the public because that's you know where I live in the air and then there's no, oh good way to go east. You know org math its harder to go east than it is to go north south right. Sorry, you, ok, you get the college and you start you are now in the arts programme, I was I was. I wanted to be a double major in theater and film and then just like in high school feeder ended I've taken up time. So did my core requirements for film in the never pursued it and just started I was. I was writing and acting in, shows in equal measure and there's no musical feeder major at wesleyan its view. avant garde, it's very viewpoints,
it's a very wet like what was being taught a while you get taught the cannon right, you get your tennessee Williams, get your genome, threepenny, opera and, and and- and you get all that good foundational stuff, but the stop people are putting up is is very esoteric our aid esoteric. It's I I was in a play by. we irene foreignness called molly's dream. As a first play. I got it wesleyan and it's like a super out their play where it's I'm a guy. I who is dressed as a cowboy in five women are, are all I hang onto me. I have no idea why maya I did, I understand the symbolism of the play I was in and and so I'm also trying, but I'm also trying to make like musical theater happen, which is very odd at wesleyan and there were no one was putting up musicals. They were, but all extracurricular wasn't a thing that the actual department focused on, and I don't like sort of like in high school that they, you know he had her like or where I went to college at a stage troop that would. I do play
they do a musical buddy. You didn't see many musicals from the theatre, school, yeah, yeah, exactly that's right, and so I kind of supplemented that because I knew what I wanted it I would go. You know, I'd, take voice lessons and I took piano. Less outside the school. No within the music department. Ok and then found a great professor who saw in the when I put it up a wrestling and did a tutorial with me, so I got like a sms. credit just doing a private musical theatre tutorial took a liking to you and men towards you. He said this kid's got something, and you know this is not something we see here, but its valid, absolutely and was acca a bill francisco, who is a legend at west lynne, was one of the legendary super eccentric, super brilliant feeder directors, and we My class got him in it. He retired our year resort of got the last of his brilliance and strong this end in dealing with him. I love to navigate every mood because he had a lot of them and some days
It was your brilliant and this is wonderful. and one day I remember being in a rehearsal- and there is a seen in the show. I was writing and he said a wheel. Sitting here, because lynn can't get laid hook, it is that the fuck we're sitting here to watch. I can deal with this and walk out and It was I never knew which bill. I was going to get much better today, on many levels would again be the adapting kid is put to the test put to the test by a brilliant, but also very moody genius, so and you score. You know cause I like the eye of musical in me I I I I stuff it down- you put it put it down, but I go at times I find myself right there and its very in sort of, nicotine lozenges you make up the song its. It isn't right here with my thermos gear, you get beautiful,
that instinct is is is just the instinct that you nurture when you're when you write musicals, it's the. When do we break into song with theirs? but you can like. I dont go too many musicals by no like that. Like you know, if I go there's my thermos poisoning it like that. Like like that's the thing, no because I'm not I didn't. I didn't take it at an EU level. That's your job! What I'm saying is I know just after that that I can go here's my burma's with coffee and how will I drink it? When am I going to drink a data bank up up up up up up up up there? third, I you know I could feel. Oh, you went to financially for look alike as far as it and thought I thought I'd for early when it works gap. works, but it's so funny when you think music, suddenly it got us like there s an
there's a little odd that in there I don't care if its hip or not, and that there is of course through you gotta do that yeah. But for me the my favorite musicals are where you have that, and you have that layer of artifice that were breaking into song, but then it also feels real. It also I have those moments that feel conversational and those are also my favorite moments in hip. I think that's the tricky thing yeah I mean that ye know to to have a story that isn't rendered ridiculous correct by by the the nature of the of the mode yeah, and the best songwriters can do that they can. They can make heightened speech feel like something we'd say in our real life, whether at some time with no with a little priest from Sweeney todd with them singing. You know about priest, try little priest in I had it just feels like they're talking, but it's this
credibly, elaborate rice in also like you just buy what you just did there. I you know, I realise that you know with the benefit of song you can you can really talk about heavy. She had and deliver it in a way that it is it's like lubricated, the end in the amazon? You don't realize until it hits your heart, you see. What's happened totally you sneak in you absolutely sneak in whatever you like. You know. The one of the biggest show stoppers and hamilton is a song called the room where it happens where it's free, perspective of a guy who is not at a meeting, but then the shit. He saying I mean you're, seeing dancing in your seeing this incredible stagecraft, an incredible or durations by alex lack of more, but you know the lot lyrics. Are the art of the compromise hold your nose in close your eyes in a We want our leaders to save the day, but we don't get a say in what they trade away. We dream of a brand new start. We dream in the dark, for the most part, wow so irrelevant
it's like you know, you're writing them. Historical context, but politics is not changed, not a bit, not fuckin big fuckin, fascinating, Ok, so you do this personal story about your neighborhood yeah that that that is. You know it's your first musical and it gets a lot of attention. Yeah and now, when you do, when you or do orchestration, do right, music, yeah, what we saw the way I work is I play piano, I'm a pretty shitty pianist, but I can play just well enough to write my song and you can read music and I can read music and that becomes part, process too like if a if a melody can survive my chops year, then it's catchy enough to to survive. You know what I mean like a jingle: it's yeah, it's gotta! It's gotta survive like my fruit. We getting it wrong until I've got what's in my head down on paper and what would I my way of working? I think the fastest way to work is I'll, make a big enough was written in garage band and hamilton was written in logic,
writing. It were wearing garage ban now YAP menu. Yet we exist in europe. should be out all of in the heights got ruined garage band and then I send these files with rudimentary arrangements. I've played the bass part. I played the guitar part. I've played the piano, and I you know alex lack a more who then orchestrated he assigns all these colours in the way he assigns the music to different parts and ones. His job title he's the music directorate, coworker straight you, the orchestrator, and arrange. Ok, my work and and you're the guy. You work with forever thomas tonic haliae. He worked. Mine in college, No, we met the week after I graduated college, but he directed in the heights. We went to the same school Bundy and who co wrote in the heights with ciara parachute. She came along in two thousand and four When I realized I, I can't do all three of these jobs, and you know I was. I was writing the whole thing then, and I
want to let go of music or lyrics, but I was happy to let go of sort of libretto duty and she was odds. It was like how exactly as though of red. Oh that's the story, that's the story that he had died. hug. That's the structure, and you know it's sort of the unsung art form in musicals. I have that the the running joke is, you know if a if a musical succeeds you don't? does the book writer at all. If a musical fails the book right, it's the book, writers, fault and- Kyoto wrote an amazing libretto for us and she grew up north Philly. So she understood sort of that immigrant neighbourhood at changing in a very same visceral way that I did and first in her family to go to college, and so she really like got those characters and no
She was working from an existing show that I wrote in college and then we sort of ripped it up and wrote it from scratch when, when she came on board, wow yeah sand, ridable and that did well for you did well like to me that was the pinnacle of how well a musical could do like we won best musical. We ran three years. We had it. We're in company and you're, acting that for the first time I was, and I was acting, I was I got out of the bell, hop outfit and got to play a leading role in a musical, and I wrote my own for the opportunity and that way yeah. I know that a guide- and I know that feel yes, but you had not been hitting the boards too long with auditions and stuff. I mean you are always working on the musical right and I was always working on the musical. I was substitute teaching to to pay my rent weren't, like going out on auditions every other day where you know not really, but I did I mean I went on voice over auditions. I went and you know I didn't. I didn't have an agent for really long time,
yeah. Well. Now, though, right I got one down yeah, but hydras heights was my calling card in a in a pretty big way, and that's in that in that yeah that solidified, you yeah your talent and also your world that, like you're, not unlike your father's entrance into politics, they were like art, we ve gotta. Let latino no guys that. That's that that speaks the language of art and love in and music and everything else and end? He can do it for me, a mainstream audience yeah and I think I think what people recognising that show both trade nor musical theatre, fans and and people who want something new out of their musicals. Was these guys love because you know there's a lot of people who served try to reach us were broad way. We go, we hate musicals, that's why we wrote one, and so you know they get met with indifference by the community and in the heights of such a love letter to the music. Fiddler fuckin I mean everything I grew up loving in the same way hamilton is:
I didn't want to burn it down and start from scratch. I wanted to write my version of a musical right, but there is also some precedent I mean there was like I remember when I was a kid you're going to that that the black cast of guys and dolls yeah, you know, and you bring in the fund, bringing the noise in diameter and started out came out the seniors rent and I was a watershed year and I was nineteen questioners musical. I saw airliner changed, which I thought was tremendous, credible, musical and and what else you like, as I just talked to georgia, will then, when I was there to see hamilton georgie amazing, these great and I went to see shuffle along and there they are such an incredible a great show, and there are similar themes absolutely and tell your story. Yeah and anne and may be one of the greatest companies will ever see the lines of what it was astounded. It's it's some, it's crazy, it's not worth it. It is a little crazy as an area now. What's he like that, but that's interesting question because you know
what is now going to run until you know your kid can play the so most luck is never go away. They are going to rename the theater like a lion do you know what I mean like this is going to be the hamilton theater? That's fine, congratulations, but the! But the interesting thing, much of along its specifically black experience. Yes, an end is about a story that is it hold. It isn't told and is an his black history and its it's it's a black three that was sort of passed over by the black community and also by the showbiz. Ask me by obviously by the white community and he he ain't resurrected, something that was a missing chunk of the history of show business in history. The black experience in america. Why isn't that show running down non genuinely asking myself. The question I think would happen stuff along is a lot in a lot of ways. What happened within in the heights? There are
the things that we just have cultural baggage about mia. We can't help, but have it some people will hear hip hop and that is a barrier to entry for them. That's not for me, I'm not going to end and Broadway's fuckin expensive. So they think. That's not for me, I'm not going. You know. in the heights, one all the things that could win and yet by the standards of the stuff, the success it had. They run very long because hip hop latin amused, that's a lot of cultural barriers for the people who can afford broadway tickets right, and I think a similar thing happened wit with shuffle long here. I was this african in history and, and you know, there's no barrier to entry. There do you know some of the greatest musicals you think of the wiz. You think of porgy and bess. You think of is such an incredible history of african america musicals written by african americans, starring african americans, but for whatever reason they it didn't get out of it Something was a barrier to ensure for four people and I don't know what that was
and that was that was true of in the heights to people being like yeah. Not for me. They heard the general they heard the elevator pitch and they're like not for me yeah, but, but I think so that you know working people do get priced out. Inevitably it so fucking expensive to mount the show and how do you sort of way? Because I know you, you guys did your, but you did take action to sort of make the production more valuable than you, I mean that the biggest priority we had was was kids have to be able to see the show iran, it's it's useless to put on hamilton and hot F of the kids were studying the shit not have access to it. So we developed a programme where twenty thousand school kids are seeing Hamilton every every year and that's going to continue with the turing productions like in every every city. The show will go too. We will partner with the chapter title one schools and get the kids were studying that into the theatre. You know
We can't solve the problem of supply and demand, and you know that the the magic of theaters that you're in the room with the thing- and I don't know had a psalm thirteen hundred people. You know that how much we have room right at all. You know your ear. The soundtrack is available at a reasonable price and track is the whole shall yet and it's a sum through shot, you get the entire ploy. And then you're, giving kids that experience that you had yet it's hitting cycle yeah, I mean that's how you experience musical theatre yeah, you know and yeah, because we didn't see many shows we just I I just fell in love with. When does this like we're going to get back to you buying that book in a second? But what when does this like? When does it is it available for can high schools? Do it not yet right they're sorted that the life of a of a show is if you're lucky enough to get to broadway and it does a little well. You do a tour and more people can see that production. That's the same footprint in the same everyone's invite
like tommy and I are putting up those tours recasting those tours. Some shows get the luxury of a uk production. We're getting that would hamilton. We didn't get that on the heights. Did there was no one interest to do? mounted on the night. There's a production there that doing well now, but it's not our production gazettes. Been We cannot even area and they re out of the royal family of those after those run their there, their lifespan. I to stock an amateur and that is a three by the book sat who puts out those that's right, desire empty I or are in h our tent. wit mark or French's french's yeah. So those are the big for in stock and amateur lander and that's when school productions happen in regional productions happen and you have some level of of of, but just part of the arc of a life of a ship that an arc of a life of rights like them its tv shows go from first run to reruns indication sure we go broadway to tour to on away. Are there plans to two to make a movie of hamilton? Not
for while I'm in no rush. You know I really feel like we worked so hard to make a thing that works in the Peter. I want people to see it in that form. First, I don't want the movie, which will be in of translation if it's brilliant or if it's terrible, where you got you did study it a little to study the little that's my experts that makes your next day evolution. I'd like I'd, like you know, there's there's the musicals that go straight to movie. You know you have your. Spray or you have no alternative, the show, and then you have the vehicles that, like take thirty years like chicago, open, the movie chicago, which I think is actually better than the show. I thought rob marshalled in such an amazing job with a thing came at like twenty five years after that showed debut. It's always interesting to me, too, is that like in that
five minute conversation when we met backstage with the who's, the guy with the shaved head or chris Jackson, who plays George Washington right it who's great yeah. Everyone's grace I was, I was a honor to see the original cast. You know like very quickly. You know, I'm I'm scrambling to connect with you to adapt to the world of the back. age at the musical of the big musical star. But you know we walked in on this, that the model which you know I saw and you know I was a nervous to say it, but I said it was like Jesus Christ, superstar yeah, but at the end you hit the nail on the head by the way cause when I was reading that book, I thought oh, this will be my Jesus Christ. Superstore, that's really what thought. When I started reading hamilton story was I can songs, skill set a writing hip hop on be tunes fits this. life perfectly cause. Is the guy needs words and needs and sort of never shut up. the kind of music. I write wills service, his life,
well and I'm gonna make a concept album, which was what Jesus group started. It was a concept album first and then they figured out how to state it later. But yeah it was not. It was not conceived as a show. That was a record my parents had, and that was a record that I listened to as a kid and because there and when I saw the movie I was like what well yeah, I mean that It says they are getting a bus now to the desert right norman Jewison, all these hippies they go out on a bus and then at nia. It unfolds right. I always think of the mister, show spoof of it too, which was so I don't remember that, but but the I dunno, if I saw it, but but that that in that, like you know, really kind of locked it in for me, was you know, two components was that you know Jesus Christ. Superstar was narrated by Judas who was dead, and yo, and aaron burr, who is definitely the under yeah the that the villain in a way of of your show, he's the one that comes out and starts the story, the one that killed the guy yeah. That's we right now directly inspired by cheese and then, like you
king george, where it is like they're, like herod, songs, totally our heritage, which is my favorite song it. So if you want the price, your great jays S, cry is proved to me that you're, no fool walk across my swimming pool. Do that for me, like? I remember that and now was well sung mark thing. So then If so, then, when george goes out and does his bit on my dad's yeah, this is yeah, he's herod, yeah, right, yeah, totally totally and- and that was- and that was the the fun of that and then, as your writing it you realize. So that's your inspiration and then you go ok, but this is actually Jesus Judas because it's not it's not follower her to turns into enemy, and you oh, but I look to the muse, oh theatre sort of predecessors. So is this ahmed s eyes this mode lord salutary kind of those times when burs envious. But this is not a case of someone having genius and someone having not they're, both brilliant yeah, so its action.
Lee. So as your right as I was writing, I realized this a difference of temperament. This is a guy who is cautious versus the guy who is reckless, and cautious in in a sea. Binding. Within this new structure like he was cautious as a career, he was, he was a career career, cos and and this guy, who, in a lot of ways, is very similar to him hamilton they're, both orphanage but hamiltons right, but a sort of a bipolar genius in a way yeah, maybe my power I dont want for that word around by by either maybe I don't know about the other side of the river there by but definitely had moments of joining. When you start thinking about these elements, have you finished a book, or is this happening? You? U buy this book and borders, you looking for a book to read in mexico and I'm I'm assuming projecting. I can just ass do that. You know you picked this book up and you can put it down, couldn't put it down couldn't put down became my vacation was like know. This is ne two thousand and eight. So you know- I wife then girlfriend and I were we're getting
we can. All inclusive resort were were drinking margarita on reading the book were watching season, one of mad men on dvd idea that you- and that was the vacation- was just reading that book and being like. Oh my god, the song, the british sang was the world turned upside down. How fucking great tonnes doesn't circling shit that I, you know makes sense as your radio more as a meeting is three years time you you're what was it like right when you re in the book where you're like this is my guy, and I see my protest when he wrote his way out of the caribbean, when he'd literally wrote, there's a there's, a hurricane that destroy saint croys living and think Roy he's a teenager, but he's running this trading company he's doing the books for the trading company and this her destroy the island. He writes an essay about it and the usa is so flowery and beautifully written that it gets published in the danish american gazette in in an effort to get relief. Efforts for the island and people take up a collection to send him to the colonies. To get an education is a go, go become a doctor. Come
AK cause you're too smart to be here and to me I was like that's the most hiphop. Should I've heard he'd literally rights his way out of his circumstance right and- I had that notion and then the book sort of cap proving me right. The fact that here under a pseudonym when he was writing against the british crown, Oh, I'm sees like writing under pseudonyms, like that. Dr every piece of hip hop culture that I respond who had some reflection within his life in some way or another, and at that time, when did the conceptualisation to make it. You know new york in a way and at an end, and also to two to not too to honour the idea that these characters, although historical characters, are fluid ethnically yeah. Well I mean that came that initial inspiration, so the first summit reading the book and not picturing the literal founders anymore, I'm picturing, ok, him!
the mix of big pon biggie park and Eminem. That's who he is here in the conception of how he's gonna rapid. he's gonna sing, you get to georgia, and then you go okay, this guy's all moral authority. All cases these common. john legend he's guys who just project to this innate goodness and majesty so I'm dreaming, you know, I read the name: hercules mulligan, I go well, that's buster! Rhymes! That's the most fucking awesome series of syllables hercules, mulligan, like I'd heard it in busta rhymes his voice when I read it on the page, so I was already casting hip hop stars right as the founders the first time, I'm reading ba and guy who were what's his name. Davide digs there He was an. It was interesting that the I I dunno how long the casting process happen. You buddy was like it's a very profound thing: yeah, especially
in in in a time now. Where, were you know, aggressive politics is gonna, be part of our right cultural reaction in language, is that you know you're taking a story, one of the founders and yet not integrating it but elevating it through new at ethnic validity, which is a word I had on. If I made it up it, you understand and polite. I do that that you know that represents a story that is about all of us and even when you are casting that What what are you? What are you looking for exactly? I know your honouring these, these, these voices in your head, but here you gotta- have real song and dance guys. Yeah yeah, I ve got to have the ability to sing and dance and rapid. They dont teacher had a wrap in musical strict observatories, or was it a thing for you when you, when you were casting saying like none of these guys are gonna, be y know?
We never put down that dictum arouse it was we gotta find the best people to do this and we gotta represent. We have to represent the most sort of beautiful diversity of of of peace, we can find the arm and and that's new york, new york city that is going to the sort of the calling card. Was this got to look like the a train? It's got to look like one car on the a train with all that represents maria do bans deserters whatever the fuck right and then you get it's amazing story about a guy who's, a flawed guy there, all flawed other, also flawed, but yet but our our our main guy is is deeply flawed and cause I'm the one that shut the fuck up and he doesn't keep his dick in his pants. He doesn't keep his dick in his pants and he and the thing that is his strength is his undoing. You know he he right way off the island. He writes his way into washington's good graces and no one is presented with the fact that he fucked up
and some people know about it. He decides to tell the world oh yeah I fuck this married lady, but I always honest in my business affairs, and he thinks that's gonna like save him is totally used against and you can also see that as an act of patriotism. You know if the stench around him as being a corrupt, pub figure as a guy who misuse is treasury funds or misuses govern funds in any way the country's five fucking years well that that could be the end of it, so he instead blows up his personal spot. You know I got it. I got front. I was friends with MIKE nicholls before the past year and yeah. I got cast in a reading that he did shortly after the heights, reading played that nothing ever we happened with it, but we went to dinner and this was before
if I'd written any of hamilton said, I think I'm writing says hamilton and he said that's the greatest. That's the last honest american. He was a big hamilton buff and he always pointed to that moment of that guy ruined his life to save the republic and and and his wife like can the ultimate affront of blowing up his personal life in his infidelity and stuck by him like he thinks those attitude of them? courageous americans, who ever lived and he was at our last workshop before we open at the public has the last time I saw him, how Often did you council with him through the process of creating I'm not so much on this just sort of checking in, and I would tell him you know, I'm I'm done and we invited him to let that less workshop and was so thrilled to have him their tommy caille. If you know there's a great quote If, if Tommy caille had to make his mouth rushmore of directors, he would say MIKE nickels and help prince twice those are the guys
and so so you know, I think the fact that he he always respected Handled the historical hamilton he was very, she was very happy that the show was gonna have a kind of a life. And he was, he was a wonderful guy that the last email I have from him was just after my son was born to saying like up it's all different. Now, yeah you you're, you're gonna find all new stuff here and now like you, you know, with hamilton unit you were able to deal with class. You are able to deal with, and not only just an immigrant story, but also a story about politics, about love about you, no desire to transcend your class and all the stuff that you know that that are conflicts and parts of the american experience. Now obvious. Absolutely now, they're coming for me. I said too much. I thought that was just your right. You're at that level, not known idea, they're, going to church for you. I gotta go The latter drops into the europe that, but now
you're dealing with your as we're talking when you came in that you said you your en route in route for- from london on election night and you you ended in this and we talked a little bit about your political consciousness, yeah you're young man, unless you for saying so, but the on thirty six. Yes, yes, your young man attack, especially as you know you you know your creative life evolved in. You know a fairly. You have a restrictive political environment being given day the boy cheers and everything else that and your political life I get started than as well. yeah you and I mean that's it's funny. I got not to my hotel after flying on election day, and I jumped immediately into a big skype session with the. a group of friends that I have spent the last for elections with its my Lastly, in so to bush, in one obama to bush, when obama who Obama's gotten
Harry stoned and two thousand waiting for aid. as it is to emerge, and you know wesleyan pretty left leaning place. I fell asleep. my friends all went to false hill and wailed and howled at the moon and just sort of way how is this happening- two thousand for we're at my friends house in the village and no matter how many times we played emanations anti bore song. It didn't break our way and just remember adding varied sort of sourly drunk and then to the now we are in the same apartment and danced in the streets and died in union square. You remember like where were you in new york city and when nine eleven haven't you? I was on my way there was primary day that was there the voting day here and my dad was running Freddy's mayoral campaign. So I was going to drive down vote and come back and it was so the day bob Dylan's time out of mind album. Can I ask the first thing I did in the morning was new. I was driving to the city and went to the record
store in middle town, connecticut colony records to buy the new bob Dylan and the various Oh and sleepy guy who runs run shop was like hey man, someone. I tried to blow up the world trade centre and I said him yet the happen like a I go cause. I was thinking about the first time right right. I was the guy in the van and I was like this guy's really out of it and, and he said no man it's a and then got like very like clear, eyed and set the really good data by bundle on record and I popped it in my car and then when I drove back home, I turned on the t v and the second plane was flying into the tower, and I remember just sort of people coming over to our house and serving serving drinks and calling family members, and, as I was, the drive, and then we heard that manhattan with seal than I was able to go down because there was no one get in Yours I get home, I got a few days later, wow my dad was downtown. He saw he was running a campaign and
you know in his mind he says forty four would be mayor if that hasn't happened because they suspended the election and then the other guy. You know that there is no hiring latino mayor happened like we're, not we're not fucking with an we're, not fucking with the system. We need to write. You know them then that define political discourse for another eight years, yes and the you the the element of of immigrants and terrorism. He defines it again now and it has always you know, sort of like a you trying to find a way forward. You know that would honor all people at which is is also what hamilton does so. Like I mean in in you know, I've talked about this a little bit, but it a because it's just happened yeah, but you know obviously you're a lot of people in this country. You know made a decision for whatever reason you know some better than others, and but they are
people, but you know the progressive fight of of you know racial lines and immigration, which is so much of what hamilton speaks about. You know what what as an artist you know, how do you impulsively or or you know he he now two three days after what do you feel going forward? What what? What is it been invigorated in you? Ah? Well, you know, there's the initial despair that your candidate didn't win and rye values that you believe in and that's and and then I don't know I, woke up with an enormous sense of moral clarity on what you hope for progressive, there's, always pocket. Clarity is never something that is close to the conversation. Well, what about this? But what about this? But have you consider this perspective right? You know we consider so many perspective rhyme times were paralyzed right, but in the face of this it was like well, this is the campaign
the campaign that one was run on the alienation of others. It was in the first speech mexicans are sending over rapists and criminals. In the next speech it was we're gonna ban, all the muslims, and so my first thought was ok. Our job is to make the mare gins he's to alienating feel safe. Like that's my job to my art and that's my job through my work and- and you know it hamilton's anything, it's a reminder that as complicated as founders were we live in their country, and great shit has happened in this country too, and it's our country too, and so I sort of way stop being like. Ok, what we need to hold the line on the things we believe in and not not slide backwards yet and not be pushed out and not be pushed out and not be and not be silenced by the things we re. You know, that's, that's that's the important thing is, is you know,
You know people will protest, people protested, obama forever and I didn't agree with those protesters, but you know let let him do it. That's why we get to live here here and and and now to say it's. The pendulum is assuming the other way and we can't shut up and we gotta continue to fight for our values. Thank you. you and I and- and I I the this movie like- I watch a couple of clips of the animated movie yeah, I'm awana, oh, what a dream. Now. I ve always my lips. I saw I take it. You know I don't again a year I am a little at closeted musical, And yes, I read out the clause we heard using herod, We welcome you with open arms, you save your mark and what they like. I don't watch a lot of animated, but I watched two clips of marijuana called and I was like oh yeah. I don't want to put politics on disney, but I'm just so grateful that there's like a it's a movie with a kick ass female character, saving the world. And she doesn't love interests does have a boyfriend. She like sales,
the sea and saves the fucking world damn I'm really proud to be a part of it in and have contributed music to it. While I, I'm proud of you flags, you? You know, I it's an honor to have you here and I m really humbled by the the do you love the show so much in that night, yet that you did that on stage is very young moving from Thanks verve thanks for for all the interview and thanks for getting so much honesty out of so many people, we love. You know- I I think of so many of your interviews and be like. I never I never saw that person in that way before I m right now. If the beginning of art is empathy is walking, we like you, give us a master class in it. Every time you get someone in this crazy garage, yeah. So so thank you for that yeah and I had to learn that a pretty selfish guy for a long time, but I you know, like I needed to talk to you today, yeah yeah. I'm a little shook up. Yeah wheeler thanks man
that's it what a lovely man, what great show great artists. I was to have them over. I believe I will play guitar I believe I have not planned anything, but that hasn't stopped me before.
yeah. Boomer lives.
Transcript generated on 2022-09-05.