If you watched the Grammys on TV earlier this month, you might have been a bit confused when Donald Glover, otherwise known as Childish Gambino when he makes music, didn’t walk up on stage to accept either Record or Song of the Year when his smash single “This is America” was named as the winner of both prestigious prizes. The musician wasn’t at the ceremony, but the man who produced the song and co-wrote it, Ludwig Göransson, was, and he trekked up to the mic to make a speech for Record.
Now, just a few days later, the man is up for an Academy Award for scoring Black Panther (a piece of work which also won him a Grammy the same night), we had the pleasure of speaking with the Swedish talent about all the honors coming his way and whether he actually thought he was going to win or not.
You had some really tough competition in both Record and Song of the Year. There were a lot of really great tracks in there. Were there any that you particularly love or that you thought would win?
Ludwig Göransson: I was like, I've been at the Critics’ Choice Awards, the Golden Globes and I've just seen “Shallow” sweep all those. I was like, there's no chance that we're going to win. I definitely thought “Shallow” was going to sweep the whole thing.
Yeah, thought “This Is America” deserved Record of the Year, but knowing Grammy voters, I thought they might have given it to “Shallow.”
Göransson: That's what I thought too!
Can imagine. Now you face an entirely different group of people at the Oscars. Are there any scores that you really love this time around that are in your group?
Göransson: Absolutely, just being nominated is just like an incredible honor because I think everyone that's nominated is either a legend like Terence Blanchard, I've been listening to not just his film scores but his solo albums since I was studying jazz in Stockholm. He's like a living legend. What's cool about all these award shows is that I actually get to hang out with him and meet him and talk to him, ask him questions and get his advice. I think that's one of the things I enjoy the most about these award shows, getting to meet my heroes. Yeah, it's incredible.
A lot of the work you've done over the years is with Ryan [Coogler] and Donald [Glover]. Is there anybody you would still love to write or produce for or work with that you haven't yet?
Göransson: You know that's a good question. Like I said earlier, what I love about my job is to write, be able to move along, move around in all the kinds of genres and spectrums of music. I'd love to someday be able to just meet or just pick the minds of some of my most favorite like improvisers of the world like Keith Jarrett or George Benson. I find that so extremely inspiring. That's what I was studying in Stockholm, improvising. I think the people who are really good at doing that and who can come up and create in the moment, they keep me going and I'd love to work with them, obviously, but just being able to meet and pick their brains and getting to understand how other people think about music, that's what I love to do. That's why I love producing with other artists, producing with Childish Gambino and spending time to understand how his mind works and how he thinks about music. That's how I evolved as a musician myself.
Sure, is understandable. You've had a great year and a half, what's next for you?
Göransson: My next project is a new Star Wars show called The Mandalorian. It's Jon Favreau is helming this new live-action episodic TV show. I can't reveal too much about it but it's really incredible and I've never seen anything like it before. The way Jon Favreau is using new technology and cameras, it looks so incredible. It's also like what I said, it's a new format for the Star Wars universe. They have never done an episodic TV show before. I think for any film composer, being in that universe, it's kind of like a holy grail of film scoring. John Williams’ Star Wars is the best film music ever written, I think. I'm extremely honored to be a part of the universe.
Well you've got three Grammys, an Oscar coming your way and now maybe an Emmy so you're just grabbing them all, aren't you?
Göransson: We will see about that, we'll see about that.
Photo Credit: Ludwig Goransson