KUCHING, Feb 14 ― Sarawakian Alvin Wee, an award-winning producer, mixer and musician, has been nominated for an accolade at the Cinema Audio Society (CAS) Awards 2022 in Hollywood, making him the first Malaysian to achieve this feat.

Wee, who is from Kuching, was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for his work in Disney’s animated feature film, Encanto. He is credited as the Scoring Mixer of the Sound Mixing Team for the chart-topping soundtrack.

He told The Borneo Post of the immense pride he felt to be able to stand with contemporaries and the sound team for the CAS nomination.

“I’m also very proud to be the first Malaysian and Sarawakian to be able to do this at this level,” said the 34-year-old when contacted.

The CAS Awards recognises outstanding sound mixing in film and television and the results are a notable precursor to the Academy Awards especially in the sound editing and mixing category.

On top of this nomination, Wee is also over the moon that Encanto has earned three Academy Award nominations, including Best Original Score where its nominee Germaine Franco has become the first Latina composer to receive the Oscar nomination.

“This is definitely a first for a lot of people for sure including myself. I think the biggest thing is the historic nomination of Germaine for her score being the first Latina or woman of color to ever be nominated in Hollywood and not only that being the only woman to be nominated (in the category) this year,” he said.

He shared that he was approached by Franco, a long time collaborator and friend, to work on Encanto’s soundtrack.

“She took a chance on me earlier in my career and even after doing countless films and projects with her, I’m always grateful to get that call.

“Naturally, when she brought me into the studio and told me she was going on a musical adventure featuring Colombian music I immediately said, ‘Yes!’,” he said.

On working with Franco and Encanto’s songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda, Wee said he had thoroughly enjoyed every part of the music and being part of the process.

“Lin-Manuel is an incredible storyteller and songwriter. His collaboration with Germaine to bring the music and story of Encanto to life has been an honour to listen, watch and experience firsthand in the studios and also in theatres.

“The score that Germaine wrote was so meticulously crafted and every detail of each note was treated with the utmost care to complement those songs that are incredibly catchy! It was very rewarding to have contributed to the process,” he said, adding that it was equally exciting to see the score and songs work together as a very important part of the story.

Asked on what were his inspirations while working on the soundtrack, Wee said he was very much inspired by the culture, musical styles, tradition and musical instruments of Colombia.

“It was exciting to learn about, record and mix in all these traditional Colombian instruments such as the Arpa Llanera, a Colombian Harp; the Tiple which is a very bright guitar considered as the Colombian national instrument; the Marimba de Chonta as well as a wide and rich array of other instruments that made the movie so vibrant.

“There were all these traditional musical styles like the Cumbia, Champeta, Bambuca and Joropo that obviously were a huge part of their musical and dance language that had been used all over the score. It was so exciting to explore all these musical styles and see how they work within the context of a musical underscore,” he said.

He also drew on influences as a musician and growing up with all my own set traditional music in Sarawak and Malaysia.

“I personally did a lot of research and study not only the musical styles of Colombia but also the history of the country and how it influenced the culture. There was the use of many different styles and how each instrument is stylistically featured for each genre.

“It was important to me that we got that right so I spent a lot of time listening, reading and watching documentaries about the topic. I wanted to make sure I was cognizant of all the cultural influences and idiosyncrasies in the music that made it unique,” he said.

Since its release, Encanto has been taking the world by storm, particularly its soundtrack which has become a viral phenomenon and has been sitting in the No.1 spot on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart for the fifth non-consecutive week.

Wee said it’s been great to see the soundtrack grow and resonate with audiences around the world.

“I was sure that people would have connected with the music watching the movie but to see the album and songs to do as well as they have is definitely a first for me.

“My jaw drops everytime it shatters another record. It’s been a surreal experience for sure,” he expressed.

He views the success of Encanto’s music to be up against the likes of renowned composers Hans Zimmer and Johnny Greenwood and be voted on by the best in the industry at this year’s awards season to be a huge honour.

“I’m just along for the ride and have been very proud to have helped be part of that journey and realized that vision.

“I know for a fact that everyone worked very hard to deliver Encanto to the world. All these nominations and awards like the Oscars are very well deserved.”

He hoped that his achievement will be able to inspire the next generation to pursue their dreams.

“I want the next generation of composers, producers and engineers who look like me to say ‘I can do that as well’ when they hear my story,” he said. ― Borneo Post Online