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Torres-Kahele, Greig star in Pixar short “Lava”

Between concert dates home and abroad, a thriving Hawaiian music halau in Japan, albums that routinely top the world music charts and winning Na Hoku Hanohano awards, Kuana Torres Kahele is on a roll.

The Hilo musician lends his voice to a new Disney Pixar Animation short film, “Lava,” which premieres Aug. 22 at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in Japan.

“It’s really cute, the storyline. It’s a little love story between two volcanoes,” Torres Kahele told the Tribune-Herald on Wednesday.

Torres Kahele narrates the seven-minute film by director James Ford Murphy. He also plays the male lead, a volcano named Uku, who’s in love with a female volcano named Lele, played by fellow Hoku award-winner Napua Greig.

It’s a musical love story, and Torres Kahele and Greig also sing the love song the film is based on, also titled “Lava,” which was written by the director.

“It’s cute. Kids’ll love it. I’m sure it’ll turn into something really popular,” Torres Kahele said.

Torres Kahele will appear at the Hiroshima debut, accompanied by Murphy and the film’s producer, Andrea Warren, and will perform there, as well.

“The timing was good; I was going to be there anyway,” he said.

Torres Kahele was approached by Murphy about 18 months ago in Kona.

“They actually just showed up to one of my concerts and pulled me to the side,” he said.

Until the recent surge of publicity for the film, the singer’s involvement has been hush-hush.

“They swore me to secrecy for a year and a half because they didn’t want anybody to know about the short,” he said.

He and Greig recorded the song at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, a three-studio complex founded by Tutti Camarata, a one-time Disney director of recording.

“I recorded at the same place that Prince did his albums,” he said.

Sunset’s Studio 3 was the Minneapolis icon’s recording headquarters from 1981-87, when his $10 million Paisley Park Studios was completed. Others who have recorded there include Earth, Wind &Fire, Stevie Nicks, and Fleetwood Mac.

Torres Kahele’s whirlwind schedule shows no signs of abating. The second album in his Music for the Hawaiian Islands Series, “Kahelelani” (Niihau), is scheduled to hit stores Sept. 9. The first album in the series of six, “Hawaii Keawe,” debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes world music chart.

“Lava” is scheduled to open in U.S. theaters June 19, 2015, opening for the Pixar feature film “Inside Out” starring Amy Poehler, which seems destined to become a summer blockbuster.

As for Torres Kahele, he’ll just go with the flow.

“It’s an awe-inspiring experience,” he said. “When I see the cover of the short — because they’ve already started advertising the picture — it’s so hard for me to believe I did a film for Pixar.”

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